Umbrellas are handy for more than just keeping the rain off – in studio and location photography, they’re an incredibly useful lighting modifier. Simple and effective, an umbrella allows the photographer to soften and control the quality of their light, producing a more aesthetically pleasing effect with fewer harsh shadows. In that sense, they perform a similar function to softboxes. However, softboxes produce a flatter, more even light, while the curved shape of an umbrella creates a more directional light with sharper edges to the shadows.