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Reflector Materials

Lesson 10 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

Reflector Materials

Lesson 10 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

10. 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 Materials

we're going to want a video about materials one of the things that most affect how you use reflector is material material makes a really big difference and there's a lot different reflective surfaces so I'd like to cover them now for example this is a five and one reflector I mean it has five different types of reflective surfaces we have silver we have white if you unzip it in the inside we have a diffuser which we'll talk about we have silver and gold and we also have black which is negative film each one of these different reflective surfaces have different qualities to them and we'll have a different effect on your portrait so let's break it down let's take a look at these different reflective surfaces the most commonly used reflective surface is silver so I want you to keep these few words in mind when you think about silver silver is highly reflective catches a lot of light and balance is a lot of light it's also very contrast e meaning of speculum highlights which basically mean...

s it's going to have a lot of contrast really bright highlights and really dark shadows it's a little bit harsher on the skin it also throws light a little bit further a couple of the qualities of silver it's also a little bit cooler then typical ambient light white is much softer it's much more gentle on the skin but it doesn't catch a lot of light and it doesn't balance light and it really doesn't reach that far silver you're going to be able to bounce like a lot further away where is white you're going to have to be bring your reflector much much closer okay what is also pretty cool it's relatively neutral but it will cool down your photograph next we have the silver and gold surface here one thing that I always mention at this point is I personally don't just use plain gold for anything and I get asked this question over and over again but when I don't use gold because it ends up giving me really really may next light because if I take this light source and I'm catching the sign and then I'm bouncing with gold now have gold light source from a different direction and it tends to be just way too warm for me however I will often use a silver and gold mix or even a white and gold mix so what it will do is it'll just warm up the shot just a tiny bit um if it's silver and gold it'll have that highly reflective quality that you would get from using a silver reflector if it is white and gold it's still reflective but not quite as much as the silver gold so this is what you would want to use if you want just a little bit more warmth to your shot and here's an example of what it might look like and then also can I see that one right there that's perfect here's another you assuming these materials come in all different sizes and shapes for reflectors black black is negative phil so let's say that you have a highlight that you don't want on the side of a face or how about with a gentleman when you have light coming from everywhere and he wants you to find their jaw line but there's so much fill light from the sidewalk from the floor from everything you can actually use negative phil to the side of the subject's face or near their jaw line to carve out a little bit of a shadow and then lastly we had user in here which we will talk about so I want to give you an idea of what this looks like when we use this for a portrait silver highly reflective contrast he throws light from really really far away white really really soft much more forgiving doesn't throw light that far silver and gold throws light far but with a little bit of a warmer tint to it and negative phil actually eats up the light gives you a little bit more definition in the shadows so let's do this in practice o and then here's just what it looks like a solid gold I told you I don't use thes I'll use silver gold mix but not solid gold it just looks too unnatural for my tastes all right let's see this in practice where you are I'm gonna take a shot with no reflectors first and good so you will notice that the light is not terrible because we do have a lot of phil from the floor but it is a little bit green we're going to go ahead change the direction and quality and intensity of light all of that with this reflector so let's take a look at silver so it's a lot of kick and you see those little highlights on her cheeks so if you look right here you see her pores no offense you have lovely pours you see airports in the highlights on her cheeks because it is a speculator bright light source and stephen can actually back up pretty far be do it carefully and still get a decent amount of light on her face so he could be ten fifteen feet away and still get light from that small reflector okay so let me take a quick shot while you're back there contrast the light source far away is going to create contrast the light uh I hear sick look beautiful all right now let's do white stay right where you are and just slipped a white okay you should notice nothing because from that far away the white is not going to be able to reach her it's not going to be strong enough so you'll have to do is you have to bring the white way way in hollow in and there's even a little closer okay look how close he had to get before you'd actually see that white reflector but look it when you check this shot beautiful catch lights and there are no speculum highlights on the side of her cheek there's a highlight but not those bright little white dots like we had from her pores in the previous shot white is much more forgiving but he's got to be extremely close to make a difference okay let's look at the next one let's take a look at silver gold please perfect and let's catch a little bit there you go good and snow dis still have the speculum highlights on her cheeks still have those bright highlights it's just a little bit warmer of light ah lot of photographers like to use this later in the day more towards sunset to give you even warmer light on your subject okay now I would like to do negative film all right so when I take a look at her here let's say that I wanted to carve out a little bit more jaw line a little bit more cheek bone on this side well the problem is we're getting a little bit of phil from the ground from the sky so we're actually bring you closer over on that side of her face and so what you should see is a little bit darker in her cheek and a little bit darker in her jaw line so really really close good good and now back away great so let me take a look at the two examples here oh yeah there's definitely a drastic difference between the two this side of her face would become much darker so negative phil black reflector basically think of is blocking light sucking it up making it darker on the side of the face uh I don't use this all the time but definitely for portrait when you're going for more drama or when you're trying to get bored or definition in the jaw line or cheap that's when using negative phil would be really used all right so we've taken a look at a few things we took our silver reflector we saw those speculum highlights we saw that we could back up really far with it we saw that white is more forgiving but we have to bring it close we saw that silver and gold is a little bit warmer we saw that negative phil eats up some of the light well I just want to show you one more twist on this would you please grab a large white reflector the way reflector I told you just doesn't kick light very far but you can back up a little bit further if you grab a larger reflector that's white because it's capturing more like so it's more water to throw and you don't have to be quite as close so bring it up here remember where he had to be before he had to be about here let's take a look and hold up a little higher there you go oh and look straight here chin down you could move up just a little bit closer to her like right so he's getting some light even at this distance whereas before he was right here so he's about he had more than doubled the size but he could also double his distance a little bit so take a look at that again good chin down a little bit perfect so these are the trade offs you have based on material based on size if you want to use white because it is much more forgiving you're going to have to bring it closer and ideally get a larger reflectors so that it can kick more lytton and this is why it's useful to have a larger five and one reflector you compete choose the right material for the shot that you're trying to achieve and then you have a little bit more flexibility with your distance from subject and even though I said never to use it I think just for educational purposes I should show you with the gold look like don't use it I never liked the look of it here you go take a look oh and she is so multicolored wow okay so you look at this and she is gold on fire even if you feather that reflector which we'll talk about so stay away from the gold so dress window I like to use a gold reflector as often as possible all the time now lyndsey and I were talking about that yesterday about the questions that we knew would come in and that's one of them that's when the big ones that everybody asked I've got a ton of them in here is from jeffrey block what's your preferred reflect the color between white silver or gold so you want to maybe just sum up from what was in the video when you use each color short alright so to give this just a little bit of summary uh silver is when I need to catch more light from further or I want a really speculate highlight in the eye like a pop of light in the eye if I need more light or further back white if when I want the late to be gentler little bit softer I could be closer with this if I need to back up I can't use like I'm gonna have to use silver or get a gigantic white surface that can throw more water more light towards the subject silver gold I will use it if the pictures like it's an overcast day and it's just looking a little bit too cool even after I've changed my white balance I've tried to warm it up a little bit also with photographing african american skin tones sometimes gives us like a little bit warmer tone I used silver probably the most unless someone has bad skin and then I will goto white because it's more forgiving um also the silver gold at sunset or later in the day when I'm really going for warm tones and gold I do not use I can think of very few situations like maybe the gold reflector super far away so it has almost no effect and only a tiny bit of warmth but almost nothing or if the sun's hitting the subject and you want to catch from behind to give a warmer highlight but I don't I never do that so I don't really know why most reflectors have gold honestly because I think I've there is no photos my portfolio that's ever used gold they can put it that way so that would be my summary do you guys have any questions here materials wise yeah man you're saying you used a dark reflector sometimes and I was curious what the angle and distance would be yeah okay can I have it right here okay perfect so this is that material that would go over it so for a guy in situations where they lose their jaw line that's what I'm trying to bring it back especially a guy will do maybe someone a little bit of a double chin like I'm trying to trying to give a little more shadow and trying to give them a little bit more shape if the light is filling from below like bouncing off ground or something I can bring in that black reflector underneath to the side and distance depends on how close I got to get it to help bring back a little bit of shade in my studio in new york when I use window light I'll bring those right here and it really is it eats the light away it's basically what it doesn't really defines their features so as close as you can get it in your shot will make the bigger difference so we've got a couple of kind of just some summing questions on reflectors because we're not doing reflectors when we come back right diffusers our next perfect so let's do some more for somebody who is just getting a first reflector what do you think it's kind of the most useful reflector tohave when you're first anyone I think that is a great question I would say you do want a five and one first of all something that makes sure at three and one at least something that gives you a diffuser something that gives you silver and something that gives you white like that's that's your minimum of what you need and then if you're going to add it on silver gold maybe so the size I would recommend is maybe like depends on what you photograph because of your photograph in groups or more than one person you need a little bit bigger forty two inch or maybe need to go for the scrim jim but this is your very very first I would just say something around the thirty to forty inches just a nice place to start if you know you were going to be working alone you might consider this this one that was a five and one so it cannot help you light on your own it was kind of a mixed question but depends what issue perfect steven thomas smith can reflect her this might be obvious based on who I'm asking it too but can reflectors be used in fashion too or is it just portrait yes khun b used in fashion it's so reflectors or used a ton in commercial shoots as well though actually take gigantic white reflectors and create their own natural reflectors on location so use it to catch the sun and bounce back when I do close ups and fashion photography I tried to get the sun behind their head and and use silver so has like I'll actually go harsher than I would for a portrait because their skin can handle it and models look good in any white and so I'll go for harsher side really see their cheek bones and jaw line yeah I use it all the time one from cherie and seven other people also wanted to know this one went on location can you lay a neutral large piece of cloth or plastic on the ground for the model to stand on to avoid the green cast from the grass or even when shooting on pavement yeah that is an awesome question so it depends on how big the surfaces that's bouncing the light because for example in my last creative lives gonna wanna one we went up onto the roof and I'm like it's a giant reflector crap I can't teach what I need because I need to have it actually looked bad at some point it was filling in from every angle so we took a big black tarp and laid it down and it did nothing because the whole roof was a reflector so it can help but if it's you know if you've got acres of green bouncing everywhere it won't get rid of the problem but I have done it before do you ever use nontraditional reflectors for unique lighting such as a glass glossy poster board etcetera and can you think of a what is the most unique item you've used as a reflector okay I'm goingto I got a good one the most unique item that I have used as a reflector was a giant wheel of one of those like eighteen wheeler trucks that was a big shiny one because the sun was hitting it was like really crisp and sharp so I used that as a natural reflector

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!

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