How many reflectors do you need?

posted in: Color, Lighting, Teaching | 0

I been in love with reflectors since long before they made fold ups. Remember working on a movie in Paris the first time a saw one pop open, so did my eyes! We used to buy silver cooking foil, step on it on the asphalt or cement to make mini bumps in it then tape it to foam boards. Still works great today. Then I remember I found actual sheets of reflection foil from Rosco, and I could tape them on. Reflection of light have always been used in photography, reflections from walls, windows, snow, water, a silver car in the parking lot etc etc .

My question today was HOW MANY do you need? It’s not one correct answer to that question of course, but I want to bring up some points why I find a need for many. If you look in the image you will see some of mine along the camera room back wall. I think I  have about 30 total? A brand new reflector reflects so much more light light then it will do after a few months use. About every 10 months I keep buying the same silver reflector in my most used size 32″ I write the date I bought it with a black marker on it for fun to keep track of their change.

By having many silver reflectors with different ware I get many choices of brightness, especially great when I can’t choose the distance to the subject. It’s kind of having a flash with one output or variable outputs. I also love using soft gold a lot, but I use them all even my blue one I bought from a german photographer. Color correction is a huge issue with them, getting to change color on a part of your image, create minorities. Like on a bride I might want to use a large white or silver one on the dress and a smaller soft gold just for the face. Keeping the dress white, while giving her a nice skin color. Often I will just use a different one on the face because the face need more brightness then a white dress.

This is such a huge subject I can write on it forever. In my seminars and workshops you will learn a lot about reflective light, but this blog post should get your mind running? NEVER trow away an old reflector it might be the only one weak enough on close distance on a bright day, you can also spray paint it in a cool color and you have a new portable pop up backdrop for portraits 🙂

In situations of low light or cloudy days a brand new silver reflector will almost be like a mirror to add some great catch lights in the eyes. What is so beautiful with reflectors is that what you see is what you get vs flash. This image is about 20 years old shot on the wonderful Polaroid Polapan B/W chrome film, loved it!!! I keep using old images for fun these days if I can. Show how great results we could get straight out of a film.Happy shooting, hope to see many of you around Europe in February.

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