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D.I.Y Reflective Photo Umbrella

Updated on July 18, 2016
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.


(CC BY-SA 3.0
(CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

DIY photo

I like to take photos of almost everything, but I also like D.I.Y photo equipment projects whenever possible.

An easy project which should take no more than an hour is making your own reflective photographic umbrella; a DIY reflective photo umbrella which will work just as well as the professionally made ones.

Learning how to make your own photography equipment, can be fulfilling, and save you some hard earned cash in the process.

  • You need: an umbrella, spray paint, cutting pliers, light source, electrical type clamps(looks like a "?" and it's used to attach electrical tubing to walls). They are also known as Adel-style or "P" clamps, anyway see photo, and a tripod or stand.

Cloth spray paint works well but with care any spray paint will do. Chrome for a stronger reflection, white for a softer reflection and gold for a warming effect. The outside color is up to you but black is the most common color.

  • Prepare the working surface using newspapers or tarp, open your umbrella and spray paint the inside first (several thin coats). Hold the spray can several inches away from the umbrella's surface to avoid drips and puddling of the paint. Although this does not really matter in the end, it just makes the finished product look that more professional. Let it dry. Now paint the outside and again, let it dry.
  • Next cut the handle of the umbrella with cutting pliers at the point where the handle meets the metal/rod.This will make it easier to attach to your tripod.
  • Attaching the umbrella to your tripod:Use the "?" clamp by inserting a screw through the pre-made hole and through the upper base of the tripod. Ensure that the screw is long enough. Make sure that the "?" clamp bend is about the same diameter as that of the metal tube/rod of the umbrella to eliminate movement.

If you need to, you can insert the metal umbrella's handle into rubber tubing which is a bit larger that the handle. This will make the "?" clamp hold better. Insert the metal portion of your umbrella through the bend of the clamp. You're done.

The umbrella works well by itself by reflecting available light back to your subject or you can attach a light source to it. There are several grill clamp lights at many hardware stores and they range from about $8 to $12 each.

  • Use daylight bulbs with a rating of about 5000k lumen output or adjust your camera's color balance to accept other tungsten type bulbs. You can use work lights but they get really hot and carry a large energy consumption.

You should also consider attaching any weighted material to the base of your tripod for windy conditions. Sandbags are good for this.


(CC BY-SA 2.0
(CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source
(CC BY-SA 2.0
(CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

DIY Photo Reflectors

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Stacie: Thanks, I took a look and left you a comment. Very nice idea.

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      Stacie 6 years ago

      I made a camera strap from a scarf that you might find interesting! :)

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      mr grafxguy: No it does not, but it should be concave and an umbrella has the right shape already so it is easier.

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      mr grafxguy 6 years ago

      does it have to be umbrella shaped?

    • s.wilson profile image

      s.wilson 7 years ago

      I had never thought of making my own umbrellas. Thanks for the guide!