Reflec­tor is the sim­plest light mod­i­fi­er. This is a fab­ric stretched over an elas­tic frame. It is use­ful for sub­ject and por­trait shoot­ing. About how to use a reflec­tor when tak­ing pic­tures and how to choose it, they told in this mate­r­i­al. Bonus at the end of the arti­cle — 9 shoot­ing schemes with a reflec­tor.

Reflec­tor is a sim­ple but very use­ful light mod­i­fi­er. It is used both in the stu­dio and on the street. Pho­to: photographytalk.com

Why do you need a reflec­tor (screen) for shoot­ing
How to choose a reflec­tor for pho­tog­ra­phy
The size
The form
Pho­to hacks for shoot­ing
Light schemes for shoot­ing with a reflec­tor

Why do you need a reflector (screen) for shooting

With it, you can:

— remove some of the shad­ows that appear from the main light­ing. You can adjust the light with a flash, a soft­box on the oth­er side. But if they are not there, a reflec­tor is enough;

— make shad­ows less hard when shoot­ing out­doors. Dur­ing the day the light­ing is very bright. Because of this, the shad­ows on the mod­el are hard. Using the screen, you can high­light the object, make the shad­ows soft­er;

— shoot against the sun. Often mod­els can­not face the sun. Their eyes water from the bright light. The solu­tion is to shoot against the sun. But in this case, the face will be dark. The way out is to high­light it with a reflec­tor;

— cre­ate a mod­el­ing light, an inter­est­ing shad­ow pat­tern. Work­ing with sev­er­al light sources (for exam­ple, with three) is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to shoot a three-dimen­sion­al, not flat por­trait. With the help of a reflec­tor, you can cre­ate a cut-off con­trast that will com­ple­ment the pic­ture;

— cut off excess light. For this, a black reflec­tor is used. With it, the pho­tog­ra­ph­er will remove the extra light that spoils the scheme;

— scat­ter direct light. Shad­ows will become soft­er, high­lights less bright.

Reflec­tors dif­fer in size, shape, col­or. Each is used for a spe­cif­ic effect. Pho­to: profoto.com

When is it use­less to take a reflec­tor for a pho­to? When shoot­ing action scenes. For exam­ple: sport­ing event, the­atri­cal per­for­mance, dance event.

How to choose a reflector for photography

Mod­els dif­fer in size, shape, col­or, pur­pose. If you decide to buy a reflec­tor, this cheat sheet will help you choose the best one.

The size

A diam­e­ter of 30–40 cm is most often need­ed for prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy. With it, you can high­light small but impor­tant details. For exam­ple: stones in jew­el­ry, an acces­so­ry on clothes, a bot­tle of cos­met­ics or a bot­tle of per­fume.

Use­ful for por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy. For exam­ple, when you need to empha­size part of the hair­style, make­up, focus on a small detail.

Diam­e­ter 40–80 cm need­ed for por­traits. This size is enough to remove hard shad­ows, high­light the face of the mod­el. And we talked about how to make a cool por­trait in the blog.

Impor­tant: for a gen­er­al shot of a group of peo­ple, this diam­e­ter is not suit­able. He’s too small.

Diam­e­ter 80–100 cm — uni­ver­sal option. It can be used for por­trait, prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy, even for group pho­tos.

Diam­e­ter 100–200 cm — such a screen is used for group pho­tos, for adver­tis­ing pho­tog­ra­phy.

Reflec­tors are from 30 to 200 cm in diam­e­ter. Some are need­ed for sub­ject shoot­ing of small objects, oth­ers for por­traits, and oth­ers for group shots. Pho­to: nazya.com, fotoshans.ru

The form

A cir­cle is a pop­u­lar design. The pho­tog­ra­ph­er can hold a small cir­cle in his hand. The large diam­e­ter reflec­tor can be held by an assis­tant. Used for shoot­ing sin­gle por­traits (usu­al­ly waist-high, but it all depends on the diam­e­ter).

oval and rec­tan­gle — more sta­ble than a cir­cle (due to two long sides). It is eas­i­er to work with them with­out out­side help. For greater con­ve­nience, you can install on a spe­cial stand. An elon­gat­ed reflec­tor can be bent, twist­ed, its sur­face can be curved in dif­fer­ent ways. As a result, you can get beau­ti­ful high­lights and shad­ows on the object. The larg­er the design, the larg­er the group of peo­ple you can cov­er or take a full-length por­trait.

Tri­an­gle — mobile option. There is usu­al­ly a built-in han­dle that makes the reflec­tor easy to hold. Suit­able for sub­ject and por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy.

Screens come in dif­fer­ent shapes. For exam­ple, in this case, a tri­an­gu­lar gold reflec­tor with a com­fort­able han­dle is used. Pho­to: stedis.cz


White. Neu­tral light that hides uneven skin, does not affect its tone, soft­ens the shad­ows. The low­er the reflec­tor is in rela­tion to the mod­el, the more nat­ur­al light it gives.

Gold. The light is warm. You can enhance the gold­en glow of a sun­set, make pale skin more nat­ur­al, high­light tanned skin. You should not use it to work with pink skin, oth­er­wise its col­or will turn out dirty. There is also a risk that the frame will turn out too yel­low. The solu­tion is to put the reflec­tor a lit­tle fur­ther away from the mod­el’s face.

Sil­ver. Hides skin imper­fec­tions well (like white). Increas­es the con­trast of the frame — for this it is bet­ter to set the screen at the lev­el of the mod­el’s waist. With it, you can achieve a nat­ur­al col­or palette of the pic­ture. The dis­ad­van­tage is that it catch­es bright light and strong­ly reflects it. As a result, it is easy to daz­zle the mod­el.

The black. Does not reflect, but absorbs light. It is used to block too bright light. For exam­ple, on the street. A black reflec­tor will help cre­ate a beau­ti­ful shad­ow and vol­ume. The frame will be more dra­mat­ic and deep.

Translu­cent. Anoth­er name is “reflec­tor to the light”. Need­ed to pro­tect from very hard light. The reflec­tor is placed between the mod­el and the main light. As a result, the rays are scat­tered, and the shad­ows and high­lights become soft.

Blue and green. They do not reflect light, but can be includ­ed in a set of reflec­tors (7in1). A blue or green can­vas is placed behind the sub­ject. So dur­ing pro­cess­ing, this back­ground can be replaced with any oth­er.

You can buy sev­er­al screens at once in one set. They can be from two to sev­en.

Each col­or is used to solve cer­tain prob­lems. Pho­to: fstfoto.ru

Is it pos­si­ble to make a reflec­tor with your own hands? It is bet­ter to use pro­fes­sion­al equip­ment. But if there is no dif­fuser, but you need it, you can make it from impro­vised means. To do this, just take a thick card­board and wrap it with foil. But such a reflec­tor will not replace a pro­fes­sion­al one:

  • col­or is only sil­ver;
  • card­board is not as elas­tic as the frame. Out­door wind will eas­i­ly dam­age it.

Photo hacks for shooting

1. The mod­el must not look at the screen if it is sil­ver or gold. Espe­cial­ly if the pho­to ses­sion takes place in bright light. He will blind the mod­el, in the pho­to she will have closed her eyes or a tense face.

2. If the weath­er is over­cast, cloudy, the white reflec­tor can be brought clos­er to the face. This will bright­en the face, make the shad­ows around the eyes less notice­able.

3. One of the secrets of shoot­ing with a reflec­tor is that the dis­tance to the object depends on the diam­e­ter of the screen. The larg­er it is, the fur­ther it needs to be placed.

4. The screen is includ­ed in the cir­cuit last. Step one — the mod­el must be posi­tioned rel­a­tive to the main light (in accor­dance with the dia­gram). It can be a win­dow, the sun, a beau­ty dish (how to work with it, we already wrote in the blog). After that, you can choose a screen that match­es the col­or and install it.

5. You can adjust the light inten­si­ty by plac­ing it clos­er or far­ther from the object. The clos­er it is, the brighter the light.

6. The fur­ther away the screen, the soft­er and less con­cen­trat­ed the light. If deep­er shad­ows are need­ed, place it clos­er to the mod­el.

7. If there is no stand or assis­tant, the pho­tog­ra­ph­er or mod­el can hold the screen. Of course, this applies to small reflec­tors. Some have han­dles on one or more sides to make it com­fort­able to hold.

8. You can avoid dark cir­cles under the eyes, an empha­sis on the dou­ble chin by plac­ing the screen just above the mod­el. The light will go from top to bot­tom.

9. On a clear day, you can put the mod­el against the sun. The screen is used as a back­light. It effec­tive­ly out­lines the sil­hou­ette.

10. Not only green and blue reflec­tors can be used as back­grounds. Sil­ver, gold, black back­ground will trans­form the pho­to.

With the help of a reflec­tor, you can take a beau­ti­ful pho­to both in the stu­dio and on the street. Pho­to: 74foto.ru

Light schemes for shooting with a reflector

Option 1. Dis­trib­uted scheme. The main light should be set to the left of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er, at an angle of 45 degrees. If you do not use a reflec­tor, then there will be a shad­ow on the right. It will empha­size the uneven­ness of the skin, flaws and half of the face will be too dark. The solu­tion is to put a white or sil­ver reflec­tor to the right of the mod­el.

An exam­ple of a stan­dard scheme with one light source and a reflec­tor. Illus­tra­tion: Eliza­ve­ta Chupiko­va, Photostore.Expert

Option 2. This light­ing scheme for shoot­ing is also pop­u­lar and sim­ple. A sil­ver or white screen is placed in front of the mod­el. Rotate it so that the object is high­light­ed from below.

Impor­tant: if you are pho­tograph­ing an over­weight per­son with a mas­sive low­er body and face, it is bet­ter to aban­don this scheme. Since the reflect­ed light will only empha­size the flaws.

Using this scheme, you can high­light the face of the mod­el from below. Illus­tra­tion: Eliza­ve­ta Chupiko­va, Photostore.Expert

Option 3. An unusu­al scheme for which you can take an oval or rec­tan­gu­lar reflec­tor. Why them? Because they are easy to bend.

An exam­ple of a bent reflec­tor. Pho­to: imoment24.ru

You need to posi­tion the main light behind the pho­tog­ra­ph­er. It should stand high enough to ful­ly illu­mi­nate the mod­el. The reflec­tor is placed in front of the object. The screen can now be bent, cre­at­ing a curved sur­face. So you can get unusu­al shad­ows. They are not avail­able when shoot­ing with a sin­gle light source or a flat reflec­tor.

A curved reflec­tor is placed in front of the mod­el, illu­mi­nat­ing it from below. The light source is front fac­ing the mod­el and above the pho­tog­ra­ph­er. Illus­tra­tion: Eliza­ve­ta Chupiko­va, Photostore.Expert

Option 4. In this scheme, the main light and the screen are set diag­o­nal­ly. The main light source is placed a lit­tle fur­ther than the object. And the reflec­tor is to the right of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er. The sub­ject will be sur­round­ed by deep, dra­mat­ic shad­ows. Such light is wide­ly used in sub­ject, food pho­tog­ra­phy (we told about how beau­ti­ful and tasty it is to shoot food in our blog).

A sim­ple scheme with one light source. Illus­tra­tion: Eliza­ve­ta Chupiko­va, Photostore.Expert

Option 5. Suit­able if the main source is small and the light is very hard. You need to take a large reflec­tor (80–100 cm in diam­e­ter), put it to the right of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er. To the left of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er you need to put the main light source. But you need to direct it not to the mod­el, but to the reflec­tor. As a result, the mod­el will be well lit, and a soft, dense shad­ow will appear behind it.

Cir­cuit with a small light source and a reflec­tor. Illus­tra­tion: Eliza­ve­ta Chupiko­va, Photostore.Expert

Option 6. This is a light­ing scheme for shoot­ing with a dif­fuser pan­el. It is enough to place the screen between the light source and the mod­el. As a result, the light will be soft­er, the por­trait will be more volu­mi­nous.

Scheme with hard light. Illus­tra­tion: Eliza­ve­ta Chupiko­va, Photostore.Expert

Option 7. The scheme is iden­ti­cal to the first. But in this ver­sion, instead of a white / sil­ver reflec­tor, you need to put a black one. What will change? The shad­ows will become soft­er, deep­er. The scheme is not very pop­u­lar. But it can be used for cre­ative dra­mat­ic por­traits.

A sim­ple cir­cuit with a black reflec­tor. Illus­tra­tion: Eliza­ve­ta Chupiko­va, Photostore.Expert

Option 8. Anoth­er exam­ple of using a black screen. It can be used not to reflect light, but to block. The task is to place the screen as close as pos­si­ble to the main light source. So you can con­trol the light beam. As a result, we get a styl­ish dark frame, where only part of the object will be illu­mi­nat­ed.

A reflec­tor can be used to cov­er the main light source. Illus­tra­tion: Eliza­ve­ta Chupiko­va, Photostore.Expert

Option 9. The gold­en reflec­tor gives a very rich, warm light. For most ideas in the stu­dio, it is too intense. There­fore, it is used less fre­quent­ly than white or sil­ver.

Such a scheme will high­light the mod­el from behind with warm light. The main source should be placed to the left of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er. The gold­en screen should be placed behind the sub­ject. The pho­tog­ra­ph­er him­self can adjust the degree of illu­mi­na­tion (turn­ing the reflec­tor).

Schemat­ic with a gold reflec­tor. Illus­tra­tion: Eliza­ve­ta Chupiko­va, Photostore.Expert

You can use reflec­tors in clas­sic and cre­ative schemes. For exam­ple, togeth­er with col­or fil­ters. A detailed guide with dia­grams is on our blog.