What if I told you that for under $20 you could get rid of those harsh shadows that seem to be appearing whenever you use your camera mounted flash? Or if I said that you could warm up the skin on your subject by just using a hand held reflector? Interested? Keep reading to find out more.
What are Light Modifiers?
Light modifiers are any devices that allow you to change the way light is applied to the subject your shooting. There are several kinds that range from the big bulky soft-boxes all the way down to a piece of paper wrapped around your flash to diffuse the light. If you looking for an inexpensive way to step up the way your photos look, then you should be looking at a combination reflector.
What are we talking about?
For the purpose of today’s article we will be discussing the Cowboy Studio Round Gold and Silver reflector. But any brand name will do. I have seen this same reflector with about 20 different names on the outer bag. This particular unit comes packaged in a small 8 to 10″ diameter zipper bag that fits in about any side pocket of a camera bag. It has a spring loaded outer ring that when you twist the sides in opposite directions folds down into a nice compact package for storage. Much like the windshield sun screens many people are using to protect the interior of their vehicles from the sun.
Why Do I Need One?
When your outside, and it’s a little too bright for a flash, but your subject is standing in the shade, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to capture some of that wonderful sunlight and redirect it onto their face without blowing out the entire background. If you run in the house and grab a mirror and have some one hold it up and point it at your subject your going to get some seriously harsh shadows and a a lot of squinting in your images. By utilizing a reflector you are capable of redirecting that light without completely blinding the subject and also introduce some great effects to your image. With 2 of these reflectors, you can simulate having strobes outside. You can also redirect harsh incandescent bulbs inside your home. If your not ready to invest in a good set of Studio strobes yet but want some of the effects you get with them, you can use this reflector to indirectly reflect light from a lamp, work light or just about any other source on to your subject. The Reflector diffuses the light and gives an affect very similar to the good old strobe + soft-box. By choosing the silver side you can brighten the subject up and create crisp tones and highlights. With the gold side to still apply a lot of light to your subject but more diffused and with softer highlights, giving you a warmer more soft feeling image.
By using the silver side you can actually brighten the subject you are shooting by quite a bit. This works if your shooting a very dark skinned person, or if you just want to redirect some light to a specific place that isn’t getting lit the way you want. Using the silver reflector to bounce your strobe or flash onto your subject will add light indirectly and spread the light to give you a softer image with less harsh shadows.
The Gold side of the reflector is commonly used as a warming device. Even though it redirects light in the same manner as the silver reflector, it takes on the characteristics of the gold color and can soften and warm an otherwise washed out image. Some one with a pale complexion would be a perfect subject to utilize this on. It will give their skin tone a much warmer, less harsh look and reduce the chance you will have to edit their tone in post processing. It also give a bit softer light that is similar to using a soft-box to diffuse the light.
The storage pouch that is included with most collapsible reflectors is just basically a round bag with a zipper running along one side. There is a small handle loop on one end that can be used to clip it to the side of your camera bag or your belt loop if you want to. basically it is utilitarian and does what it’s supposed to do with no frills.
My final consensus is that for the small amount of money your investing in a very useful tool, You would be almost crazy not to have one or two of these lying around. Once you start using one and really experience the dramatic effects you can achieve you will be more than glad you have it.
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