Skip to main content

Reflector Angles

Lesson 9 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

Reflector Angles

Lesson 9 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

9. Reflector Angles

Next Lesson: Reflector Materials


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


Principles of Light


Speedlights vs Strobes


Compressing the Scene


Location Lenses and Lenshoods


Metering Modes and Back Button Focus


Natural Light Reflectors


Lesson Info

Reflector Angles

so let's do reflector and angles of reflectors I definitely have found that a lot of people use reflectors incorrectly and I don't mean that as an insult I just in our brains it doesn't actually necessarily come naturally I mean I know that originally may I borrow this when I would think okay I need to bounce light into her face bounce it back in I need to add catch lights into her eyes my instinct was always just to go like this and bounce light from below because right you're bouncing it up into the shadows into our eyes but unfortunately that is not the way that you want to do it so what we're going to do is I'm going to show you all about how to control the angle of your reflector the angle of light and why you would want to do so all right so here's the general rule you want to keep in mind if this reflector is simply subtle fill light you can go ahead and use the reflector from below that means if there's overhead light like maybe you have a diffuser above and you're just filling...

in the shadows of tiny bit maybe it's an overcast day where there's already laid on the face you just want a little catch lights in the eyes if it is simply subtle fill light ah little bit of reflector from below can be ok a tiny bit of catch like what you don't want is a whole lot of fill that actually will give her cross light she'll have a highlight underneath your chin underneath her nose and it tends to make people's faces look wider and especially not with silver it will definitely be unflattering okay so just keep that in mind overcast days a little bit of fill in the eyes okay underneath the chin's all right or if it's going to be in the shade and over overhang you want just a little bit of catch like that's okay diffuse light a little bit of catch late a little bit of phil that's fine but when you're reflector is your main light it is the main light shaping the face it is a main source of illuminate ishan your need to have your reflector even or higher than the subject's face because otherwise you get what we commonly call monster lights okay here's our monster light and really what that doesn't just draws attention everything it's not flattering instead you either want your reflector even with your subject or above and above your subject what it'll do and we'll take a couple shots to see this it's from above think about in the studio if you've ever shot in the studio when you have your light source you don't have it on the floor next to your subject we're even right next to their face you usually have it raised up a little bit because the angles light carves out the cheekbones put shadows under the cheekbones and shadows under the jaw line and it's linda rises the face and it gives it flattering proportions it really does shapes out the face so light source from below is drawing attention to the wrong things ah light source from above is giving those highlights on the cheeks giving her high cheekbones shaping out her face so they watch us again and we will definitely take a few shots of this hears from above see that jaw line or her cheekbones how it's really shaped her face that watch what happens from below not drawing attention where you would want it to be so use that general rule of thumb a little bit of phil from below is okay just make sure it's not too much but if light had that reflector from above so steven I'd like to take a couple of samples of this couple shots all right so give me some of that ugly underneath fill light with the silver okay no good all right now give me a medium okay great so it's ok not bad not good me hi good much better a little bit more shaping on her cheeks great but something else you should notice as stephen is doing this right now we've been using silver I wanted to get him out of the frame a little bit we had a little bit more room silver um is more speculators you see a little bit of highlights and her cheeks he's able to back up a little okay silver is has the ability to capture a ton of light and so generally when he's reflecting on her face he's not reflecting at full force he's doing something called feathering and so what he's doing is he's changing the angle of the reflector so that it's not reflecting full force on her face which is going to be very speculum and very bright but instead he's tilting the reflector upper down side to side to catch the edge of that reflector the edge of the reflector is going to be much softer and it's also going to kick less light so it's not going to be as bright so stephen will you do full force and then ah a little bit feathered let's take a look at this all right so give me full first first okay really bright now feather good it's going to be a lot gentler on her face than the full force reflector oh big difference definitely um could I have around reflector a silver one please so a lot of about that a lot of people know about feathering right so changing the angle all of this makes a difference I I generally for something like this in the middle of the day instead of catching full force there I bounced up just a little bit instead of to the side changing the angle up still have those nice catch lights nice shape to her face a little bit of phil again not from below but what you might not have realized is actually how you bend your reflector makes a difference if you go ahead and have your reflector neutral it does its normal thing okay if you bend your reflector in let's say you're in a lighting situation where there's not much light to catch and you would really like to gather all the light you can to bounce on your subject when you bend your reflector in like this it catches more light and it's going to be brighter more contrast and much more focused on your subject however if you bend your reflector out like this before were bent in now we're bent out this actually gives you a little bit more of a diffused highlight on your subject it's not going to be as contrast it's going to be a little bit softer so when when you have an assistant or when you are going ahead and feathering your light keep in mind how you change the shape of that reflector is going to actually affect the light on the face here's the reflector normal and that I could get just a little bit of bend here it's gonna focus on the face a little bit more there you go there we go a little bit of bend focuses that light and if I bend it out it's much more diffuse you see ah much softer right there so we definitely will make a difference in general I just tend to feather instead of change for staple my reflector would be aware that it will make a difference and can do a full force just regular okay good you've been in slightly like just a tiny bit a little less a little less and a little less even more good and I'll bend it out we'll get more diffused good and get just a little bit of a highlight alright so that is the essentials of the angle of your reflector if it's phil from below just a little bit if it's a main light the main source of illumination have it up high and remember don't use your silver reflector or your gold or your silver gold on full force its way to contrast far too speculative highlights feather it off a little bit changes shape without reflector to make it a little bit gentler on the face as you might have noticed that we were using silver the silver gold on our model's face you definitely see her squint be mindful of the fact that it's not easy to look into a light especially if someone has a lighter colored eyes like blue in particular that their eyes are actually sensitive I used to think that like light blue eyed models were just wins because they're always squinting at the light and it's not actually true like I looked it up it's actually a thing their eyes were more sensitive so what you want to dio is if you are using a reflector on the subject's face if you're not shooting don't blind that just kind of feather it off until they're ready and then you can use it full power if you need to but just keep that in mind be sensitive to their eyes she's very agreeable after I was blinding here repeatedly by the way I was just going to note we were talking about this if anyone recognizes her she was one of the contestants on america's next top model because apparently there people in the chat room looks familiar very very nice girl she just texted me off screen doesn't know she's live right now so before going to questions I was going to round up what we just did because I have a couple of sides of that just so you could see so in this particular example this was from slightly below and that is from slightly above it of course makes much more of a difference if the reflectors right underneath urchin but he was just standing off to the side which is what I see most people dio that like uh can I borrow one of you lovely assistance I'll see s o this is the problem with recruiting mom or sister or friend to be a reflector holder is great here perfect so they do the lazy reflection like they're two standing here like this well that's more or less what stephen was doing there and even that is under like so you've got to get someone who's willing to like put the effort in hold the reflector above their head at most at minimum here but it's it's gotta be or even from their head otherwise you're lighting every place that you don't want to draw attention to us have you step off for a second all right so just tow go back on this topic there's that hideous green we talked about before because the only thing lighting her face in this instance she's standing in the middle of a field it's she's back lit and the lights reflecting off the grass even if I liked the quality of light if I did I don't like the color so I have to add a reflector to try to fix it so just I like that I can kind of flip through them this is underneath watch how much like look how much wider her faith looks because it makes all of this expand she going to look wider that is when I'm holding the reflector here underneath her chin then we set up to even this is even the way you can tell it's even is that shadow beside her nose go straight across so the light source is even with her face and this is the on ly example this one where this is the light from above and it's not high above is just a little bit of us were look before she did not have cheekbones or a jaw line or a shadow under her lip before it was either flat or even making her look wider so I'm going to kind of urge you to find a more willing assistant or perhaps get that stand I had or grab your try grip and hold it above their head so it's if it is just filling in shadows in the eyes an overcast day just a little bit of sparkle have your assistant hold the tri grip or have your resistant hold the thirty inch reflector take a picture but if it is the main light has to be above for it to actually be the ideal type of flattering okay so let's see if there's any questions on that yeah maybe wanted teo do the facial features of a subject affect the angle you reflect the light on them if yes what do you do or avoid for certain types of facial shapes or features ok eso really really round faces I avoid totally flat like because meaning we talked about in the beginning right not much shadow kind of straight on to camera because if there facing towards camera and flat let their face is going to look its largest so what I would try to do is take the reflector off camera off angle to the side to give a little bit of shape because that gives you the impression of a more slender rised face so that is definitely a big one um I would be super careful is well with anybody with any sort of double chin um of illuminating underneath even if they need catch lights in their eyes if I over illuminate they and this is going okay well I was going to describe it as it is sometimes I see like just like little streak of a highlight in the skin that's underneath and it just screams look at me so you can fill underneath but I would not do silver because that will make a speculum highlight and draw attention I would do white because it fills in the shadows underneath what doesn't draw extra attention whereas if I'm doing like a beauty shot with a girl you know maybe the silver's okay for the pop of the eyes were goingto the next section is about materials so it'll explain kind of which I would I would choose there burke roman do you ever use a reflector with the sole purpose of creating the catch light in the eye as you just mentioned no there's a common technique for movies yes yep same thing like if I wanted to fill I bring it close if I just want a catch late I just back it away and look for the point where I just see a little bit of a highlight in the eye and the same thing I'll do that in the studio as well

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This class was amazing. Lindsay Adler is a great presenter...I learned so much.....I love that she spoke about natural light..strobes and speedlites. Wonderful information. I purchased this and I am glad I did. Great job Lindsay. Jean


Lindsey Adler is one of the best and most engaging photography instructors in the USA. I highly recommend this lighting course. It felt more like a 101 and a 102 course than just a basic course. She teaches in a way that makes learning alot of fun and the amount of time & effort that she puts into her video and class presentations are second to none. Her classes are well worth their weight in gold and you will walk away with a wealth of knowledge!


Lindsay is amazing , I love the way she explains everything!! This course is filled with GREAT information and helps you better understand natural lighting,strobe and flash. Thank You Lindsay, please keep your classes coming!

Student Work