Shoot Nat­u­ral Por­traits

It’s one of the sim­plest items in a pho­tog­ra­pher’s ar­se­nal, and also one of the most use­ful. Tom Welsh re­flects on six ways to use a re­flec­tor to get the very best out of your por­traits

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• Avoid shoot­ing in bright sun­light; the light will be too harsh Find some shade, or shoot in to the sun

• Don’t make your model look straight into the sun as they’ll squint

• Use a re flec­tor (see page 56 for more)

Re­flec­tors might seem like a very ba­sic piece of pho­to­graphic equip­ment. They can, how­ever, im­prove your im­ages im­mea­sur­ably, so long as you know how to get the most out of them.

Light trav­els in all di­rec­tions, bounc­ing off of ev­ery­thing in its path, and you can use this qual­ity to your ad­van­tage. You can, for ex­am­ple, use a re­flec­tor to bounce light from a stu­dio flash back onto your sub­ject, in­stead of adding an ex­tra ‘fill’ light to your light­ing set-up.

Pair­ing a re­flec­tor with a flash or stu­dio flash like this is a great way to cre­ate at­trac­tive, even light­ing. A re­flec­tor also comes in handy when shoot­ing on lo­ca­tion, be­cause you can bounce light into shad­ows, fill in dark eye sock­ets and even block out harsh light sources al­to­gether. And, as you’ll see from our six steps on the right, re­flec­tors aren’t just use­ful for re­flect­ing light – they can also be used to dif­fuse it.

Most mod­ern re­flec­tors fold away, mak­ing them very por­ta­ble. They also

A re­flec­tor comes in par­tic­u­larly handy when shoot­ing por­traits be­cause you can bounce softer light into shad­ows, fill in dark eye sock­ets and even block harsh light sources

usu­ally boast mul­ti­ple sur­faces; some are dou­ble-sided, and more elab­o­rate mod­els may have in­ter­change­able cov­ers for max­i­mum ver­sa­til­ity.

A plain white sur­face will give a neu­tral light, sil­ver of­fers in­creased bright­ness (and of­ten cooler tones), while gold pro­duces a warm colour cast. Black will pre­vent any re­flec­tion of light at all, which is use­ful if you’re af­ter a strong high-con­trast ef­fect.

If you’re shoot­ing at home and just want to see the ef­fect for your­self, you can cre­ate a sim­ple DIY re­flec­tor by cov­er­ing a sheet of card with kitchen foil; use white card and you’ll have made your­self a sil­ver/white dou­blesided re­flec­tor. Here’s how to get the most out of it...

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