REFLECTORS, DIFFUSERS, AND BLACK NOT JUST FOR PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY-control the light and control the image
Besides ourselves and our camera kit, the most important ingredient for successful photography is light.
I am going to assume that most people who are reading this article have an understanding how important proper exposure is and how to go about getting it.
This article is about modifying light. It is about using accessories that will help modify the look of the light so that the image is enhanced.
The accessories I am writing about are reflectors, diffusers, and light removers. The product that I have found to be the most complete in its offerings is Westcott. Be careful and do not allow yourself to be talked into off brand products. Another well made product is *Lastolite but Westcott and Photoflex are the best bang for the QUALITY buck. Off brand knock offs will begin to flake and brake pretty early on in products short history.
If we have control of the natural and fill light falling on our subjects then we can change how a subject is rendered by modifying and redirecting that light.
I have a lot of reflectors and diffusers in all sizes which I have collected over my many years as a photographer. As noted above these are what I use to alter the light by changing its color and direction so it falls where I need it to fall, or not fall, for a more dramatic image effect. They come in oval, round and triangular shapes, and they all do the same thing. I’ll be a pain in the rump and mention once again that Westcott, Photoflex and Lastolite are top brands. All others to date will flake, bend out of shape and be poorly made to the point that they are difficult to hold and keep steady.
They come in all different sizes and size matters so be sure to have at least two different sizes in your camera gear kits.
The Westcott, Lastolite and Photoflex come in their own compact carry cases. Once you fold up these great accessories they take up very little room and are easy to carry.
Diffusers are great for softening harsh light. Held in such a way to block the sun and only let a certain amount of light pass, it usually softens the light by 2 stops, helping to get rid of image destructive highlights.
Reflectors come in different gold, silver and white configurations and help provide more pleasing light where you want it. At the same time they will also fill in the shadows or add highlights and contrast to a subject.
Using a gold reflector gives us a warm light tone acting like early morning or early evening warm light.
A silver reflector will add a more contrasty light and highlights to a subject. You are bouncing a silver light which is a cooler light and adding intensity that was not there before.
There are several 5 in 1 and 6 in 1 kits that have all of the above plus a black disk. This black disk is negative light. It blocks the light and creates a greater tone separation and shadow creation. It is very effective when your light is too neutral and flat.
I generally have them in my car and I can pull the ones I want based on what it is I want to accomplish. I carry a 5 in 1 made by Westcott which opens up to 24 inches unfolded and folds up to about 12 inches for transport and several Photoflex’s which open up to 12 inches and close down to 6 inches.
We normally have these accessories at all of our field trips and workshops and lighting classes.
Go to your local dealer or join one of our adventures to work with them. You can find them locally in my area at:
Photo Craft — Burke
6025-G Burke Centre Pkwy
Burke, VA 22015
Ph: (703) 250-5555
Mon-Thurs: 10am – 7pm
Fri-Sat: 10am – 6pm
Internet Dept: (877) 374-686
*Lastolite makes reflectors and diffusers in a trigrip(r).It is easier to hold under some conditions. More money as well.