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  • Cindy Ellis

Repositioning Light: Reflectors: How and when to use them

Updated: Nov 7, 2020

Reflectors: How and When to use them?

What are reflectors?

Reflectors allow you to control, reposition and shape light. Reflectors may be shiny or matte. They may be square, rectangular, oval or circular. They vary in size and color.

Different Color Reflectors:

White reflectors are great for portraits. When light reflects off a white reflector is is soft, and neutral colored.

Silver or Aluminum Foil Reflectors reflect more light than white reflectors and can sometimes produce harsh light. Silver reflectors are used in product or still life photography.

Gold reflectors often come with two surface options, matte or shiny. Shiny reflectors produce harsher light than matte reflectors. Using a gold reflector can give warm light similar to that during the sunset. A matte gold reflector can give skin a warm and healthy glow.

Translucent "reflectors" actually do not reflect light but soften the existing light as it passing through this fabric. Curtains and clouds are great softeners of light.

Mirrors can work are reflectors of light and can spotlight your subject and make it stand out from your background. Try a mirror next time you shoot a flower on a dark background. Angle the light so it spotlights the center of the flower.

When using reflectors you may want to consider how the direction of light effects your image.

Direction of the light:

Where light falls on a subject depends on what effect it has on your image.

Front light illuminates the part of the image facing the photographer usually producing fewer shadows but may cause your subject to squint.

Side light shows more volume, texture and depth but can produce unwanted shadows. A fill flash or another statistically placed light or reflector will eliminate these shadows.

Back light comes from behind the subject and often gives a dramatic effect and creates a silhouette. To prevent lens flare use a lens hood when shooting outdoors.

Reflectors are fun and inexpensive ways to experiment with light no matter what type of camera you own. We carry reflectors as small as 22 inch circular diameter. This reflector is a 5 in 1 + meaning that a translucent, gold, silver, black, white and grey panel are included in the set. The grey panel allows for accurate white balance and meter readings.

Remember partly cloudy days are great time to take photos. The filtered light is great since it eliminates most shadows and produces accurate color.

Remember things found around the house like mirrors, white shiny poster board, and stainless steel baking trays work well as simple reflectors.

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