This April I photographed the wedding of my friends Jennifer and Daniel Luke. Photos on the beach, a lowcountry boil and cervesas at the tiki bar, and an elegant ceremony on Hilton Head Island.
For many of the group portraits I used the new Westcott 7 foot Parabolic Umbrella. Why parabolic? A parabolic reflector gives you parallel rays of light from a spherical light source at its focal point (like, close to the center of the umbrella). What’s more, its very efficient compared to a softbox or regular umbrella. The quality of light is different of course, a little less diffuse, a little more direct. It approximates the sun on a clear day. Unlike a lot of other true parabolic reflectors on the market, the Westcott sets up quickly and packs down small. It’s even light enough for an assistant to hand-hold with a strobe head, which is nice because I don’t like to stay still.
Above: Shooting a group portrait with the Westcott Parabolic reflector and a Profoto 7b light, handheld by Brett May. Photo by Sharif Hassan.
Why, you may ask, is this a $100 parabolic as opposed to a $5,000 – $10,000 parabolic which you might find from Profoto or Broncolor? It’s not focusable. It’s somewhat shallower, so there is a tiny difference in light spill, less focusing range and a slight decrease in efficiency. I hardly believe that merits paying several magnitudes more. For the price of a Broncolor rental you can buy several Westcotts.
The Westcott is extremely well-built, elegant even. It comes with different reflective surfaces, I like the silver surface as it provides the most “parabolic” experience. Harder shadows, overall higher contrast light. Like the sun on the beach in Hilton Head.