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
• 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...