Photography & Light Reflectors

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Light reflectors can really come in handy when doing outdoor shoots. Simply put, light reflectors help you smooth out outdoor lighting. In photography, a reflector can be any item used to reflect light towards your subject. Reflectors can be used with a flash or in lieu of a flash. If you do not have the option of using an off camera flash, or a flash with swivel head, reflectors are an excellent way to achieve a professional lighting effect without professional equipment. Reflectors are either placed on a stand or other support, or held by an assistant to direct light onto a subject. Reflectors are generally held at an equal angle from the light source and the subject.

When shooting portraits in brightly lit situations outdoors, it can be very handy to have a reflector on hand to assist you in ensuring that your photo is well exposed.

The challenge with outdoor portraits is how to ensure that your subject’s face is well lit. Often you’ll get harsh shadows in areas which don’t have direct light on them. Such shadows create dead patches in your image and can actually cause certain facial features to be accentuated in non flattering ways.

Commonly it is the undersides of a face that is the problem area in outdoor portraits (under the chin, nose etc).

Using a reflector helps with this by reflecting available light into those areas of your subjects face that would be in shadow without it. Quite often the best place for one is below your subjects face reflecting light back up into those dark under-spots

What are the different kinds of light reflectors?

Reflectors typically come in two colors, silver and gold, but there are several different types of reflectors.

Gold: Gold reflectors are used to warm up your pictures.
Silver: Silver reflectors can be used to brighten your picture, without affecting the color of the light.
Silver and gold stripe: Similar to the gold reflector, the silver and gold striped reflector will warm up your pictures. However, the effect it produces is softer, while still warm. This produces a flattering warm light, ideal for portraits.
White: Use white reflectors to bounce light into shadows, without affecting the quanity, quality, or color of light being cast on your subject.
Translucent: Translucent reflectors can be used to soften light, and are often placed above your subject.
Black: Black reflectors act in a subtractive manner, removing excess light from your photos.
Blue: Blue reflectors are often included in reflector kits, but in reality, they are not reflectors. Instead, they are useful as Chroma Key digital backgrounds for background replacements.
Green: Like blue reflectors, green ones are also included in several kits online. They are also used in digital photography for making background replacements

Light reflectors also come in a variety of shapes and sizes with many of then having the ability to fold down into small and portable dimensions.

Improve Photography has a great explanation on how and when to use the different light reflectors.

How do you use light reflectors?

In order to use a light reflector you will typically want to get it pretty close to your subject – without actually getting it in the shot. Place your subject so they are not looking directly at the sun and then position the reflector so it’s glow bounces back to the subject’s face.

You will typically want a nice even light with no shadows so keep positioning the reflector until you actually achieve this. This video is a nifty guide that will really teach you how to use light reflectors properly. You can also find a more comprehensive explanation of light reflectors here.

Can light reflectors be used indoors?

Absolutely! Light reflectors are great with natural light but they can also be used to diffuse artificial light. They can even diffuse the flash of your camera if you have the ability to bounce it off the reflector.

Where can I find light reflectors?

Amazon has a very good range of some great light reflectors. Below you will find a pretty good one:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003Y2KC7W/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B003Y2KC7W&link_code=as3&tag=amansolephot-20

Guest Post by Amanda Abella- Free Lance writer/Life Coach

 

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