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Archive 2012 · reflector ?
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · reflector ?

Hi everyone I am trying to learn new lighting techniques. This is probably a silly question but what is the process/technique to using a reflecor? Are there any brands that are better than others.


Mar 11, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · reflector ?

You can buy pre-made ones or you can make your own. For broad reflectors I still use and like Fomecore board. They're cheap, light and work great. I buy both the ones that are white on both sides and ones that are white and black on the other. In addition, I'll buy rolls of silver and gold reflective material from a place like Birns & Sawyer in Hollywood, and spray mount that on to one side, giving you a flat white on one side and a brighter, more specular surface on the other.

I also use ScrimJim brand of pre-made reflectors, which are great for travel because they're super light and break down to a small tube shaped bag for carrying. They have white, silver and gold surfaces, as well as a variety of translucent materials to act as diffusion panels. More expensive, but very good and very effective. I've shot entire catalogs with nothing more than a medium sized ScrimJim and someone to hold it.

Mar 12, 2012 at 12:52 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · reflector ?

sandman22 wrote:
Hi everyone I am trying to learn new lighting techniques. This is probably a silly question but what is the process/technique to using a reflecor?

It's not a silly question at all, it's a very good question, because while there is a wealth of imformation floating around (not all of it good) on how to use flash, there's not a lot on using reflectors, other than the reflector-makers' Web sites and brochures.

In addition to what Peter Figen said above, key points are the type of light you're reflecting (sun versus artificial), the size of the reflector and the distance from the subject (relative size affects the character of the light and shadow), and so on.

Other factors that will inform the discussion are whether you're wanting to use the reflector(s) indoors or outdoors, alone or in combination with flash/strobe(s), etc.

The best advice I can offer is to make a mid-sized reflector (say, 24" X 36") of cardboard or Fomecore, and cover it with aluminum foil on one side and white fabric on the other. Then set up a subject like a statue/mannequin or a still life like a bowl of fruit -- anything with complex curves and areas that will be shaded -- and practice using window light and your reflector to see how the different surfaces and different placements will affect the look of your subject.

Once you have a feel for how it all works you'll be in a better position to decide what you might want to buy, and you'll have more specific questions that we can discuss.

Mar 12, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · reflector ?

Ben - When I'm shooting on location and using reflectors, which is quite often, I'm always on the lookout for a location and angle where I can position the reflector in such a way that light actually hits the reflector in a way that's usable for the shot. This usually means trying to get some direct sun on the reflector whenever possible and then controlling the angle of the reflector to bounce light back into your subject. Often I'm looking for a situation where the sun is backlighting my subject and I'm positioning the reflector somewhere to the side of the subject to bounce light back in. With people it might be a 4'x6' gold foil on Fomecore or it might be a 42"x42" white ScrimJim held by an assistant. The trick is to position the reflector so it both adds light where it's needed but also adds the right kind of light to enhance your subject. I treat the reflector as just another light source to use, but one that is often used in conjunction with the sun. It's one of those things that will come to you really fast once you get out there and start playing around with it.

Mar 12, 2012 at 07:27 AM

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