Photography Tip

Today is fancy day at Thistlewood Farms because….

…..we got photography umbrellas in the mail.

Have you ever used a photography umbrella before?

Oh good.

Me, either.

I’ve seen them before on other websites and I’ve noticed other bloggers using them but I was always skeptical.  Could a simple umbrella that aims light into a space and allows you to photograph a space without natural light really be that helpful?

And the answer?

A resounding all capital, fifty exclamation point YES!!!!

Photo Tips Before

Case in point.

Here’s the butler’s pantry before.

Dark, right?  The space doesn’t get any natural light.  When I’ve photographed it before, I’ve always had to try to turn on all the lights and use a flash and leave the shutter open for 20 seconds to try to bring as much natural light from the kitchen into the space.

It always turned out a little grainy.

And a kind of a random, odd color.

And now?

Simple Photography Tips

Here’s the butler’s pantry photographed with my new photography umbrellas.

This is the actual color of the gray in the space.

And see how clear and white the room looks?

The photography umbrella allowed me to aim the light where I needed it.  Now I’m still working with it.  I just got it in the mail yesterday, so there are still some odd shadows, but I’ll work those out with practice.

Photo Tips

Here’s another view of one of the close-ups of the shelving.

You can actually tell that the platter in the center isn’t white.

It’s cream.

Before the photography umbrella, it looked like everything was the same color and you couldn’t differentiate between all the shades of white.

Photography DIY Tip

And here’s another view of the plate rack you can see walking into the butler’s pantry from the hallway that I’ve never really photographed before because it was full of shadows.

The photography umbrella allowed me to aim the light and capture the photograph perfectly.

You can see the color in the hallway perfectly.

Milk glas

It came with a stand that you can adjust up and down so you can get close-ups like these.

See the detail on this milk glass?


Photography Tips

I actually decided I was going to go fancy and buy the umbrellas because I have some magazine photo shoots I’m freelancing for, but I think I’m going to use them more than I ever imagined.  Total photography life changer.

Thank you so much photography umbrellas.

You are rock stars.

And I have a feeling we are going to be BFF’s.

Obvi. 🙂

Painted in Waterlogue

PS  A giant thank you to my friend Alice who sent me this beautiful watercolor of the house she created in the waterlogue app.

I almost didn’t recognize it.  I keep wondering whose house that is. 🙂

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  1. Image for Alice Hanson Alice Hanson

    Wow! KariAnne, The umbrella really does light up the world! I wonder how it would work with an IPhone 6 ? I do not have a fancy camera. My upgrade on my phone is amazing to me! Thanks for the shout out! I am so pleased you loved your picture. It is a fun app for sure. Beautiful photos! Smiles, alice

  2. Image for Tish Foster Tish Foster

    I will be on my way to find the light umbrella:) Would you let me know where you purchased your plate stand holders? I think I need some of those:) Thanks you are The Best as always:) Tish:)

  3. Image for Kelly Kelly

    It made me happy to read where you were so excited. I've only been into photography for a little over a year but that's how I feel when I get a new piece of equipment. Opens up a new world of creativity. I've been thinking about umbrellas also but see where they come in all price ranges. Would love it if you would share your source for them. Happy clicking!

  4. Image for Dale D. Dale D.

    What a huge difference your umbrella gizmo makes and love that the colors are true as well. You have so many lovely rooms but that butler's pantry is one of my fave...oh to have my blue and white collection not only on display but the ease of using them in my every day life would be so freeing. As for the watercolor of your sweet home..just lovely. An endearing gift that you will enjoy, yes? Happy Friday Karianne ♡

  5. Image for Nancy @ Slightly Coastal Nancy @ Slightly Coastal

    Wow. That made a huge difference in the photographs. I'll have to look into that. I am so excited to finally have a tripod so I can use the timer...that has made a huge difference for me. I too am a lover of milk glass and have a pretty nice collection going. I love yours! Nancy

  6. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    Where is the picture of the light umbrella? I mean we have an umbrella and it is polka dot and another one is striped like a circus tent. I assume that it has to be a neutral color? With the umbrella did you have some kind of light? I am a visual person -- and a little slow on the learning curve when it comes to photography. I do a one of those filter things -- haven't used it but I probably should *sigh* There is so much to learn and I appreciate you sharing the advice. Big Hugs!!

  7. Image for Dagmar ~ Dagmar's Home Dagmar ~ Dagmar's Home

    I bought set of umbrellas and they have been sitting in my closet for 2 years - time to break them out! Thanks for the reminder. I would have loved to see what the setup actually looks like - can you write a post with pictures of that, you in action, styling, moving things, as you go? I bet a lot of us would love to see that.

  8. Image for Michelle Rudis Michelle Rudis

    Wow. HUGE difference in the pics! I love, love, love your enthusiasm, KariAnne. It is so contagious and almost always sparks a new interest in me. I think I'll add photography to my life-in-my-60s bucket list. Oooo...and maybe even write about it!

  9. Image for Michelle Mortensen Michelle Mortensen

    Fantastic photos!!! I haven't used an umbrella before - but I think that will have to change now that I've seen your amazing pics. I have several spaces in my home that do not receive natural light and an umbrella may really help. Hugs, Michelle from

  10. Image for Lauren Lauren

    Okay, you've really really motivated me to bust out the umbrella that I never figured out how to use. Yay! Your photography is always beautiful, Karianne! But I have trouble with those dark places in our house too. I'm working on our windowless bathroom that is a pain in the behind to photograph. Can you tell me what kind of bulb you used? Or where you've found some good resources for how to shoot with an umbrella?

  11. Image for Colleen Colleen

    Believe it or not, this still-in-auto-mode-artist has photo umbrellas. I love 'em. You'll also love the workout you get when you drag them all over the house too, KariAnne. ;) xo

  12. Image for Michele Michele

    I have upgraded lights which kinda have umbrellas built in and half the time I am too lazy to use them, haha. With this broken foot I haven't used them once b/c I just can't go up the stairs to get them (keep them in the loft area if I don't have company which I do often.) When I have them here in the office I use them often. Don't you wish you had an assistant? I sure do, haha. The difference in your pictures is stunning - so glad you have them, you are movin' and shakin' my dear. ♥♥♥

  13. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    No, never even heard of a photography umbrella. Wow, huge difference. Ok be sure to report back on them as you practice with them more. I may have to get one! Love the watercolor of the house. I keep playing around with getting the app. I'm thinking I just should do it! Happy weekend, my friend!

  14. Image for Jonell Harrison Jonell Harrison

    This is a BRAND NEW subject for me..I need DETAILS...what, where, how much ? Size, Color?Material? Sorry, to be such an 'old lady' but if one does not know...she does NOT KNOW. Thanks for whetting my appetite

  15. Image for Kim Banta Kim Banta

    I would love for a shot or two of your actual set up for the umbrellas! I have them, but I think maybe I am using them backwards? I know some have the reflector built into the umbrella, but mine are white, so the light is diffused through them. SO, show us your umbrellas, and how you set them up!? Pretty please? 45 degrees to the subject? Up high? Down low? Right at the same level as the subject? Source? I know I'm asking a bunch, but I would love to learn! Your backwards umbrella quirky friend, Kim Banta

  16. Image for Tina Ferguson Tina Ferguson, am I the only one noticing all the shadows??? I have always LOVED all of your photos and been inspired by your milk glass pieces! I see shadows everywhere in these new photos and it is making it so I can't see the pieces as well. Were the shadows there before? I see the shadows on the same level as the pieces, so the shadows and pieces are blending together and I can't see the pieces as well anymore - it looks like a white plate with a big grey shape on it. Maybe it is just my eyes? Or how I see things? I went and looked and in your other photos, the shadow is BELOW ... the shadow is near the bottom of the piece, not on the piece behind it. Of course, I am THRILLED for you and your new tool!!! Watercolor is gorg! Hugs...Tina

  17. Image for Pamela Pamela

    Karianne, I have loved reading your blog for so long. Yours is always a refreshing shot to my day. After seeing today's post I was to give you back a little bit for all of the giggles you've given me. What I'm about to write is not meant as a negative comment on anything you posted but as a suggestion how how to take your photos to the next level. So welcome to the world of being able to photograph when you want to not when the natural light allows! First just to give me a bit more street cred I have taught photography at the college level and confess I've been a professional photographer for many years. I personally don't care as much for the quality of light you get from the umbrellas compared to using a softbox but that is just my personal preference. Just so you know what I'm talking about here is an example of what a softbox is: ( Umbrellas tend to give you a harsher light and creates more of a shadow where a soft box gives you a very soft edged shadow so most still life photographers don't tend to use an umbrella. They are harder to control but hey you have them so just a little clue about using those umbrellas. First really look at the shadows that it is creating in your photos that is more important than how much light you are getting. Why? Well first off you can always add more light into your photo by using a longer exposure time on your camera. This works great with subjects like you photograph - still lifes. Since they don't move you can keep that shutter open for as long as you like as long as the subject doesn't move. For instance in your dark example of the pantry all you had to do was increase the length of time the shutter was open to increase the amount of light. Shadows are what we use to"describe" things in a photograph and we kind of use the to help "paint" the objects. I can tell in your photo of the shelf you had the umbrella rather low and to the right of the frame - see the shadows it's creating behind the plates? It is coming from below and casting a shadow behind and above the plates. You are also getting a shadow from the post that falls behind and to the left. In most photos you want to create what I'd call a natural light and the biggest one of all is the sun. So the light source is usually coming from above. That looks "natural" to us in a photo unless we see the light source - like from a lamp or light streaming in from a window. The other thing to be careful of is not having enough of a shadow. You want to use it to define your object and if there is too much light the object flattens out and you lose details. For example look at your pic of the plates on the wall rack. It has kind of flattened out some of the plates and there is no separation between the molding edge and the plate. The best thing to do is get you a helper. You stand at the camera and really look at the shadows and see what the camera is going to see. The helper will be moving that light all around at your direction. Watch how the shadows change as the light moves and it will start to describe your objects. Then take the shot and if possible really look at it on a big screen - that way you can see what you have created and if need be change the light again. Also if the light is causing too many shadows an old photography trick - try bouncing the light off the ceiling or a white wall. That way it will bath your scene with light. Now if the ceiling or wall is a color be careful as that will then add colored light to the scene, something you might not want. Also if you use more than one light source be careful of "conflicting" shadows. Those also don't look right to us in a photo. That is where one shadow might go to the right and another light makes a second shadow to the left. Karianne I hope that helps and if you have any questions or if I can help you in any way I'd be more than happy to do so. Good luck!

  18. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    Wow, Miz karianne.....I can see where that makes a difference. But from a totally handicapped photographer.....only because I choose to be LOL, even "I" learned something from Pamela's interesting.

  19. Image for Linda Miller Linda Miller

    Loved your post this morning! So good with my coffee. lol PLEASE tell me more about the waterlogue app. I love the picture of your house! Have a wonderful weekend!

  20. Image for Carol@TheRedPaintedCottage Carol@TheRedPaintedCottage

    Hi Karianne, I'm hopping over from The Scoop because I didn't have time previously to read this. I sure could have used an umbrella for my whimsy chair that's in our cottage bathroom. It's dark and even darker with the shade down, but with the shade up and the glare coming in, it's almost as bad as having that shade down. I think you know what I mean. I guess it's something to look into to add to my photo equipment. Heck, it's just $$$.

  21. Image for Nellie Nellie

    Wow, Karyanne your pictures looks amazingly beautiful. So crisp and clear.......... Course, your lovely decorating help to make that pic so wonderful Can you use a photography umbrella with a point and shoot camera?? I am thinking, probably not..........but you can alway hope!! lol Have fun practicing and are doing pretty great already, can see why you love it so much.......... Blessings, Nellie

  22. Image for Janae Janae

    Hi, I was wondering what umbrellas you got and from where? If you could post the link that would be super! Thanks!

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