The reflec­tor is a con­ve­nient addi­tion­al light source that does not shine at the same time! It is more bud­getary than a stu­dio monoblock, it does not need bat­ter­ies, sock­ets or a syn­chro­niz­er. This acces­so­ry will not break even if it falls into water or from a great height. Plus, it’s easy to take with you. You don’t even need a tri­pod! Although it is pos­si­ble with him.

We tell you why reflec­tors are need­ed, what they are and how to use them to get high-qual­i­ty pho­tos.

Author: Bri­an Faw­cus / flickr.com/photos/brianfawcusphotography

What is a reflector in photography

A reflec­tor (some­times called a reflec­tor or light disk) is a hol­low frame with a spe­cial fab­ric stretched over it. It can be reflec­tive, absorb­ing or scat­ter­ing. It depends on the col­or and mate­r­i­al of the can­vas. In shape, reflec­tors are most often round, elon­gat­ed rec­tan­gu­lar or tri­an­gu­lar with round­ed edges.

The fab­ric sur­face of the reflec­tor “repels” from itself the rays of the sun, flash puls­es or stu­dio light. Thus, the pho­tog­ra­ph­er has anoth­er light source, which is easy enough to direct in the right direc­tion.

Accord­ing to the prin­ci­ple of oper­a­tion of reflec­tors, reflec­tive umbrel­las are also arranged / piqsels.com

Why you need a reflector:

  • Remove extra shad­ows from the mod­el if half of the face is not lit. This hap­pens if you work with one light source. You don’t have to buy a sec­ond source and acces­sories in the form of tripods and light-shap­ing noz­zles, but sim­ply use a reflec­tor!

This will even out the light­ing on the hero in terms of bright­ness. Essen­tial­ly, a reflec­tor can serve as a fill light source.

  • When shoot­ing on a bright sun­ny day, when the direct sun casts harsh, rough shad­ows. At the same time, the reflec­tor will illu­mi­nate the face, give a soft­er cut-off pat­tern.

Many peo­ple can­not stand fac­ing the sun — they con­stant­ly squint and cry because of the great sen­si­tiv­i­ty of the eyes. In such a sit­u­a­tion, the work­ing option is shoot­ing against the sun, when the mod­el is stand­ing with her back to it. With­out an addi­tion­al light source, two options are pos­si­ble: either the mod­el’s face will be in deep shad­ows, or the back­ground from behind will turn into a tex­ture­less white spot. To avoid this, use a reflec­tor that will illu­mi­nate the face and form a black and white pat­tern.

  • Cre­ate a key (mod­el­ing) light on the mod­el. He is respon­si­ble for the black and white pat­tern, allows the view­er to read the vol­umes and con­trasts in the pho­to­graph.

To do this, the reflec­tor must be placed on the side of the mod­el. Then one half will be illu­mi­nat­ed more than the oth­er. Light and shade con­trasts will appear on the face.

  • Cut off excess light using a spe­cial black sur­face, if the reflec­tor has one. So we can remove the stray light source that spoils our light­ing scheme.
  • Scat­ter direct light. Then the light­ing becomes soft instead of hard. Shad­ows will bright­en and soft­en, and high­lights will become less bright.

Types of reflectors

Reflec­tors dif­fer from each oth­er in:

  • size;
  • form;
  • col­or.

The larg­er the reflec­tor, the larg­er the area it illu­mi­nates. For exam­ple, an 80x80 reflec­tor is suit­able for sin­gle shoot­ing of one per­son, a small 30 cm reflec­tor will help in sub­ject and macro pho­tog­ra­phy, and the largest 150x200 cm reflec­tor will illu­mi­nate even a small group of peo­ple.

Round and tri­an­gu­lar reflec­tors are most often used for bust and large por­traits. Rec­tan­gu­lar reflec­tors are able to illu­mi­nate a per­son or a small group of peo­ple in full growth — nat­u­ral­ly, if the reflec­tor is of the appro­pri­ate size.

Uni­ver­sal reflec­tor with sev­er­al types of sur­faces includ­ed / wikimedia.org

Why does a photo reflector need different colors

Reflec­tors are avail­able in sil­ver, gold, black, white and translu­cent white. The prop­er­ties and effect of reflec­tors depend on the col­or.

  • White reflec­tor. Neu­tral light out­put. Ide­al if you don’t want to change the col­or tem­per­a­ture of the light, keep the col­ors nat­ur­al.
  • Sil­ver reflec­tor. Gives a pow­er­ful lumi­nous flux of cold light. Col­ors the object in cold­er col­ors. Suit­able for work on a cloudy day, in win­ter.
  • Gold­en reflec­tor. Illu­mi­nates the object with warm light. If we talk about a por­trait, then this can cre­ate a slight tan effect, make the pic­ture sun­nier in mood.
  • White translu­cent reflec­tor. It is also called a reflec­tor to the light. It gives a neat stream of light of low pow­er, slight­ly bright­en­ing the object. In addi­tion, it can be used as a pro­tec­tion against too hard light, when the light from the source falls on the mod­el through such a reflec­tor (there­fore “through”). In this case, the rays are scat­tered, give a soft light with “feath­ered” shad­ows and high­lights.
  • Black reflec­tor or flag. Absorbs light. Can enhance the shad­ow, reduce the inten­si­ty of high­lights. Or such a reflec­tor can cov­er the mod­el from an unwant­ed light source.

A large num­ber of col­ors does not mean that you need to buy five reflec­tors. Spe­cial reflec­tors-design­ers are on sale. They can be dou­ble-sided, 3 in 1 or even 5 in 1, and con­tain all reflec­tive sur­faces at once. In addi­tion, there are 7 in 1 mod­els (for exam­ple, the FST RD071 reflec­tor), which also have blue and green col­ors. They are used as a back­ground to make it eas­i­er to cut out objects in fur­ther post-pro­cess­ing.

How to photograph with a reflector — principles and tips

— Add a reflec­tor to your light­ing scheme as a last resort! First place the mod­el rel­a­tive to the main light source — flash, sun, monoblock, win­dow. After that, select the desired col­or of the reflec­tor, “catch” the light and choose the angle at which it will illu­mi­nate the mod­el in an opti­mal way.
— Adjust the strength of the reflec­tor using the dis­tance from the mod­el. The clos­er the reflec­tor, the more the mod­el is illu­mi­nat­ed. On a bright sun­ny day, the reflec­tor can be at a dis­tance of 2–4 meters from the hero/heroine.
— At the same time, remem­ber — the clos­er the reflec­tor, the soft­er and more dif­fused light it gives! If you want dark­er shad­ows, pro­nounced high­lights, place the reflec­tor fur­ther. This rule is true for any light source.
— Small reflec­tors can be held by the pho­tog­ra­ph­er or mod­el them­selves. There are acces­sories in which han­dles are built in for greater con­ve­nience. For exam­ple, the white Green­Bean Flex reflec­tor has two, while the tri­an­gu­lar Ando­er 76cm has one. If the reflec­tor is large, or it needs to be placed at a great dis­tance from the object, an assis­tant or a spe­cial stand will be need­ed.
— Try to keep the reflec­tor locat­ed just above the mod­el and shine from top to bot­tom. Oth­er­wise, ugly shad­ows may crawl across the face, bruis­es under the eyes will inten­si­fy, and in over­weight peo­ple, the sec­ond chin will be more empha­sized. Nat­u­ral­ly, you can high­light the mod­el with a reflec­tor from below, but you need to care­ful­ly select the angle at which it will be locat­ed.
— Do not blind the mod­el by direct­ing the light of the reflec­tor direct­ly into the eyes. Reflect­ed rays blind no worse than the sun at its zenith! Let the light fall slight­ly from the side, or ask the mod­el to slight­ly turn away from the reflec­tor.

The mod­el is squint­ing because the reflec­tor hits the eye. The assis­tant should try to change the posi­tion of the light disk, move away, weak­en­ing the effect, or change the sur­face from gold to white / wikimedia.org
  • When pho­tograph­ing on a sun­ny day, put the mod­el against the sun and point the reflec­tor at it — this way you will not only illu­mi­nate the face, but also get a beau­ti­ful back­light that out­lines the sil­hou­ette of the hero / hero­ine.
  • The small­er the reflec­tor, the clos­er to the sub­ject it should be.
  • Gold and sil­ver will give a stronger and more intense light than a white reflec­tor, but will change the col­or tem­per­a­ture.
  • Use a reflec­tor as a back­ground! So in a minute you will get a black, white, gold or sil­ver back­ground.
  • Cre­ate a warm reflex with a gold reflec­tor placed behind the mod­el. So one reflec­tor can replace a monoblock with a reflec­tor and an orange light fil­ter.
  • For shoot­ing on a bright sun­ny day, a white reflec­tor is suit­able. Gold and sil­ver can shine too intense­ly, blind­ing the mod­el.
  • When shoot­ing out­doors, a white or sil­ver reflec­tor will give a pleas­ant glare in the eyes.