Assume you’re a young portrait photographer who almost always shoots outdoors, either because you prefer natural light or because you don’t have the means or space to invest in studio lighting.
Consider the following scenario: You have the ideal clientele (folks who are willing to be your lab rats for an hour or two). You’ve figured out the technical aspects and are making amazing creative leaps.
But you’re stuck in one of those situations where you’re well aware that there’s still one final obstacle to clear, but you’re not sure what that hurdle is… If this describes your circumstance, I propose that the answer to the question of what it will take to bring you over the hump is as straightforward as it is effective:
A reflector, to be precise.
Reflectors have a place in studio photography, but they’re especially useful for natural light photographers because the quality, quantity, and behaviour of natural light are completely outside their control. A reflector, on its own, isn’t particularly noteworthy; it accomplishes just what its name suggests: it reflects light.
Here are four ways a reflector may transform your portraits in an instant.
As a fill light, use a reflector.
This is most likely the most typical application for a reflector. Natural light photographers do not have the luxury of directing the position of their strobes/flashes like studio photographers do.
When the sun is high in the sky, for example, it might cast deep shadows around the eyes, nose, and chin, which neither you nor your subject will like. You may avoid this by simply positioning a reflector near your subject’s waist level; the light that reflects upward onto their face will elegantly fill in those shadows.
- Use a reflector as the primary light source.
A reflector, believe it or not, can also be used as the dominant light in a portrait. Even though it goes against what you’ve learned about portrait lighting, the setup is straightforward. You’ll place your subject with the sun behind them in this situation; if you stop here, you’ll be photographing a silhouette.
You can bounce some of that softened light onto your model’s face with a reflector positioned at a small angle in front of them (you’ll need a stand or assistance this time), with the sun acting as a rim light.
By experimenting with your subject’s position in respect to both the sun and the reflector, you may generate a range of lighting effects to give more depth and dynamics to your portraits, even recreating some of the looks that studio lighting can achieve…
- Block Light With A Reflector
A reflector can also be used to obstruct light, which may seem illogical. When do you think you’d like to do this?
When you’re working in the shadow of a tree, for instance. When the sun is particularly bright, trees give good shade; but, tree shade isn’t always a perfect solution, as sun rays can leak in between the leaves and splatter your model’s face with beams of light.
An Omron reflector Malaysia can be used to perform the reverse of what you’d ordinarily do to prevent hotspots from damaging a portrait (this is another scenario where you will need someone or something to hold the reflector).