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Photoflex Lighting School

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Color of Reflector = Color of Reflection

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One of the questions we get quite often is “what color reflector should I use” and “when do I use a gold or silver reflector”? The answer to this is not as simple as it may seem. The effect a reflector has on a shot can be subtle or profound depending on the effect you want in your results.

The example we show to the left is a slice of the same shot with five different reflectors applied, showing the effect of each on the subject. In the following lesson we will show how and why we applied each of the reflectors.

(Click on any thumbnail image below for an enlarged view.)

Topics Covered:

  •     Color effects of reflectors
  •     The effect of negative fill

Photoflex makes six different LiteDisc reflectors, five of which are used as “bounce” fills. The sixth, a translucent reflector, can be used as a bounce but is primarily used as a diffusion device. For this lesson we will concentrate on the bounce surfaces including Soft-gold, Silver, Gold, White, and Black.

For our set-up on this lesson we placed a Medium Starlite Kit to camera right at 90 degrees from the camera and 45 degrees above the subject. We placed the subject into the light pattern and set up our first reflector, a soft-gold 32-inch LiteDisc (figure 1).

Figure 1

For the balance of this lesson the only thing we changed is the color of the reflector. The position of the reflector, the subject, and the main light did not move.

In figure 2, we see a set-up showing the position of the LiteDisc reflector. In figure 3, we see the results of the soft-gold LiteDisc on our subject. The soft, bright surface of the reflector adds a soft, warm glow to the bounce fill.

This surface is our most popular among portrait photographers because of the flattering warm light it produces.

Figure 2

Figure 3

In figure 4, we placed a gold reflector on our LiteDisc Holder, and in figure 5 we see the results produced on our subject.

The highly reflective surface of the gold reflector produces a bright, clean and warm fill adding a spark to our results.

Figure 4

Figure 5

In figure 6, we placed a white reflector on our LiteDisc Holder, in figure 7 we see the results on the subject.

The white reflector has produced a neutral fill, bouncing the light from the Medium Starlite Kit back into our subject without any color or quality changes to the light.

Figure 6

Figure 7

In figure 8, we replaced the white reflector with a silver one. Figure 9 shows the results of the silver reflection on our subject.

The silver bounce has created a clean fill without changing the color, but the quality of the fill has more spark than the white, increasing the lighting contrast of this shot.

Figure 8

Figure 9

In our last example, we will introduce the concept of negative fill. Negative fill is the removal of light, rather than the adding of light, on the subject.

In figure 10, we placed a black LiteDisc on our LiteDisc Holder. Figure 11 shows the results of the negative fill on the subject. By removing light from the subject we have increased the overall contrast of the shot without effecting the lighting, adding interest to the details of the “DELL” logo.

Figure 10

Figure 11

In figures 12-16, we see a side-by-side comparison of each of our results shots in this lesson. Here we see the effect of each of the colors on our lap top and how you have control over the color and quality of light by simply changing your reflector.

Figure 12

Figure 13

Figure 14

Figure 15

Figure 16

Related Lessons

Following are Web Photo School lessons related to this topic.

Senior Portraits using LiteDiscs Outside
Strategic placement of reflectors can enliven outdoor portraits.

Taking Professional Portraits of your Child at Home
Just a couple of easy lighting tricks can transform your child's portraits taken right inside your own home.

Shooting on the Beach with LitePanels
Learn how to construct an outdoor "room" of diffusers and reflectors to get a soft, yet vibrant lighting solution for outdoor portraits.

Creating Cinematic Lighting the Easy Way
LitePanel reflectors and existing light can offer great results outdoors.

Medium Sized Product Photography
Learn to use simple lighting techniques to take your product images from ordinary to extraordinary.


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