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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
- 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.