Learn about light reflector and how it can assist you to produce great photographs

The purpose of a light reflector is to allow the photographer to produce photos with softer light and uniform results. Using a light reflector can help you diffuse light and create a less “harsh” photo. The light reflector bounces natural light or artificial light, and prevents contrasts and hard shadings.

How does the light reflector effect the photograph

The reflector scatters the light and returns in towards the object and produces smoother pictures with fewer shadows. If, for example, you shoot an old man in midday, the strong sunny light may cause dark shadows under the eyes, emphasize wrinkles and stress the gaps between the illuminated areas and the shaded ones. With the use of a light reflector one can spread the light more evenly, “smooth” wrinkles and crakes and reduce contrast between different areas of light. (Note that despite the great contribution of light reflector to portraits - still it can’t straighten crooked teeth or turn brown hair into blond...).

Types of light reflectors

There are two basic types of light reflectors:

1. Lighting umbrella reflector
This reflector looks like a bright umbrella with a lamp in the middle. Light generated by the lamp is reflected back via the umbrella to the desired object. This reflector is mainly used in studio shots, while attempting to control the reflector and the light source simply.
2. A flat reflector
A flat reflector can basically be every flat and bright surface that can reflect light.  Such as the white wall of a building, a bright sheet and even a cardboard covered with aluminum foil.

How to use a light reflector

If you use artificial light while photographing, you may be able to adjust the focus of the lamp and reflector, and determine precisely the light’s path towards the object photographed. Try a number of shooting angles and examine the final results, in order to choose the angle you desire the most.
If you are photographing in sunlight, and especially if the light reflector is a wall of a building, or other non-mobile platform, it's important just to pay attention to your location, the object’s location and the effect of light a relation to the object. You might wish to change your location in relation to the object or the reflector. It might even be worthwhile to wait another hour whilst the light changes.

Which light reflector to choose

When you choose a reflector consider your main use of it - the studio, home or outdoors. Select a Flexible reflector (i.e. A silver overlay to a car’s front windshield) If you expect to use it mostly outdoors, but don’t want to drag a cardboard with you. If you're photographing in a studio or at home a white wall or a bright sheet might be enough, so you should just aim for the cameras external flash towards them. On the other hand, an umbrella light reflector might allow you more flexibility.
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