The video at the end of this post is from The Slanted Lens on YouTube. The video is 11 minutes and 56 seconds long and is a great starting point for various sizes and types of umbrellas. This is even a great refresher umbrella tutorial for experienced shooters as well.
Umbrellas are simple to transport, affordable and a great way to start. It's important to properly place the umbrella on the light source. As a general rule you want to place the umbrella to evenly distribute the light. However, you can change the light by changing the way the umbrella is positioned. This video shows multiple sizes and uses of umbrellas. You can see both white and silver in use. Silver, for example, will increase the light by about one stop.
Shoot through umbrellas can be used two ways (bounce or shoot through) and they often throw light everywhere. Parabolic umbrellas are deeper.
At the 6 minute and 22 second mark, the video transitions into looking at how different umbrellas look on a persons face. If you do headshots, this section of the video should help you determine what umbrella will work for your headshot needs.
None of the links below are affiliate links. They are meant to be helpful not to make me money.
Photoflex are some great, affordable umbrellas and you can find them on Adorama. I also like the Wescott 7 ft. Parabolic Umbrella or you may want to consider the shoot through version. If for any reason the links do not work, you can just visit the main page of Adorama and do a search or visit your local camera store. If you are looking for a strobe light source for under $200 (currently), you may want to check out Flashpoint 620M 300 Watt AC/DC Monolight Strobe from Adorama.
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