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Using a small reflector to add fill light

From: The Practicing Photographer

Video: Using a small reflector to add fill light

In this week's exciting episode of the practising background's all lit up, her face is all in shadow. That's better, It hit the tree back there, which actually surprises me.

Using a small reflector to add fill light

In this week's exciting episode of the practising photographer, Heather and I have wandered into shade. It's a really harrowing photographic experience here. I wanted to take a picture of Heather, but just, we're standing in shade. So, let me show you why I'm seeing this as a harrowing situation, okay, it's not really a harrowing situation. But it isn't going to make for the best photo, especially because there's all this bright stuff behind her. So this is what I get when I just shoot normally. background's all lit up, her face is all in shadow. You might think, well, yeah, you're supposed to pop up your flash.

Oh, okay, right. So I'm going to pop up my flash, and hit her with some flash there. That's better, It hit the tree back there, which actually surprises me. I wouldn't think a flash this small would have that kind of range but I feel like there's a little illumination on the tree. It's also a really flat light because it's right in front of her, it just flattens all of her features out. I would like something that looks so, well, better, and I happen to have something with me. I have this very small reflector. This is a 12 inch reflector. You can get these off of Amazon for under 10 bucks.

It folds down really small, and it makes this great sound when you open it up. And it looks really cool. It's got a golden silver mix on one side. It's got white on the other. Now you don't have to have such a fancy reflector as this, to do what I'm about to do. You can use a piece of foam core. You can use a piece of white paper. The gold silver gives a lot more bounce than the white side does. You could find a gold or silver piece of poster board. You could stick some tin foil to a piece of foam core or paper. It's very easy to make one of your own. Even just eight and a half by 11 is going to allow you to do an awful lot.

And I'll show you what I mean. The Sun's up that way, to my right. And, I'm just going to do kind of a billiard shot here. I'm looking for a spot where I can reflect a bunch of light, directly into her eyes. So, there's before, there's after. Before, after. Sometimes you gotta move it around and search for it. You can also just wait till she flinches and squinches, and kind of tenses up, then you know you've found it. If you actually set her on fire, you've gone too close with the reflector. So, I'm going to hold that right there and just grab another shot.

It's actually changing kind of quickly just as the Sun moves. It's a really nice, natural looking light. If you know to look for it, you'll spot it. The gold is really great for flesh tones. It just warms her up, which is good, because she's in the shade. My auto white balance is not doing the greatest thing for her flesh tones. That's what every model wants to hear, isn't it Heather? Oh don't worry, the color on your flesh tones is going to really be bad. And the Sun is really changing quickly. So anyway, all I'm doing, notice I'm kind of having difficulty finding the spot. That's normal, don't worry about it.

If you can't find it, it doesn't mean you're not doing exactly what a real lighting person would do. Sometimes it just takes a while. You can get more light by getting closer. the white from this distance is not going to do much good. What's amazing about this thing, actually though, is how much distance I can get with it. Let's say the shade actually came up to here, and I was standing in the shade with her. If I had a friend with me, I could put them over here, where there is some sunlight. Now this is a good, I don't know, ten or 15 feet away. It's actually well beyond the range of my flash and yet still I can throw enough light on her to get a good shot.

There's before, there's after, before, after. Look what it's doing it's putting some nice color and a little bit of reflection in her cheeks. It's putting a catch light in her eyes. It's lighting up her whole face. And that's just with a little 12 inch disk. So this is a, and the range would go even farther, so this is a great solution for someone standing in shade. But it's also really helpful for someone who is standing in direct sunlight. Heather, could you please move up here into some direct sunlight? And let's turn this way so that we are getting, here the problem is too much.

Contrast between one side of her face and the other. So, when I shoot, I've got one side of her face all lit up, and the other in shadow. Let's try the flash again. This is a case where the flash might actually work out just fine. But no reason not to try it. My batteries are a little low, the flash is taking a while to charge. So we get that. That's not bad, but I can still use my reflector in this situation. I'm going to actually try the white side this time, and look at the difference there. Just the difference between no white and white. The whole shadow under her cheek is just going away and that gives me.

See if I can see it in the view finder. Now sometimes if you can't see it in the view finder, you can use your, your off eye. The one that's not looking through the view finder. See what happens if we go to gold. Hopefully I'm not going to set her on fire, or blind her too badly. She doesn't have to do anymore work for today. So there's a tree growing out of your head Heather I haven't been paying attention to that. And there's a good lesson there, don't get so fixated on worrying about your highlights that you forget to do the rest of your job as a photographer. And pay attention to the rest of your composition. This is one of the best under $10 you'll ever spend.

It can really, really, really make a difference when you're shooting in shade or uneven lighting. Again, you can make your own. And this is not just some dumb little hack that we're doing. This is actually the exact same thing that's happening on all of our shoots when someone like Greg, our lighting guy pulls out a really big version of this and throws light all over the place. reflectors are a really handy everyday lighting tool. One last tip, when it comes time to put it away, you put one hand like this, you put the other hand like this. So I've got this thumb on the back, this thumb on the front.

And then I just twist my hands. And it folds right up. A lot of people have trouble with that. The other problem is you got to be careful when you let it go because it just, it does that. So give it a try. It's inexpensive. Maybe before you buy one, just invest in a piece of paper. That's not so bad. Get some uneven light and just try bouncing it around.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for The Practicing Photographer
The Practicing Photographer

75 video lessons · 46419 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 6m 25s
    1. Getting your project out into the world
      6m 25s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 7h 16m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 55s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s
    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
      8m 8s
    69. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
      5m 59s
    70. Posing and shooting pairs of people
      5m 35s
    71. Shooting with a shape in mind
      3m 15s
    72. Shooting tethered to a laptop
      4m 40s
    73. Softboxes vs. umbrellas
      2m 55s

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