In a controlled setting lighting your backdrop and subject are all a matter of how you apply the tools you have. In a noncontrolled setting outdoors, unfortunately, you cannot dial down the sun or add more in areas of shade. What is a shooter to do in these cases? Whip out the reflector, baby! We show you a few different scenarios and how to get the most out of redirecting the sunlight with your reflector. We used a typical 42″ 5-in-1 reflector kit.
Positioning The Subject
Subject’s back to the sun
Using the sun at high noon can cast harsh shadows around the subject’s facial features creating an undesirable look. Harsh sun can also cause the subject to squint and can be distracting to watch and/or really unattractive. Turn your subject’s back to the sun. The sun will create an edge light around your subject while the reflector will redirect light onto the subject acting as a fill light. The reflector allow’s proper exposure of sky and subject and provides a softer more even light to shadowy areas.
Subject in the shade
If you can locate a bit of shade, this will provide flat even lighting, but will be a bit underexposed compared to the background sky. The use of a reflector in this situation as a fill light is useful, as LED lights are not a powerful enough source of light in daylight conditions. Reflectors are lightweight, portable, electricity free and harness the power of solar light with the control of directional bounce.
The reflector can be held in any orientation to redirect the sun’s light from above, below or from either side of your subject. Multiple reflectors will create even more even lighting and of course, introduce more light into your shot.
Manipulations Of Light
A white reflector will introduce a softer more matte light. Play with the closeness as some argue to get close, others not too close. Test this out to see what your best options are.
This reflector is made to add warmth to your shot. Gold most commonly produces a warm, bright and overall glow to the subject.
Metallic reflectors in general will make the diffused or reflected light more specular as it is being used as a mirror. You will get more contrast with silver than with a white reflector. The silver will also create a more cool temperature.
Silver/White V. Silver/Gold
Silver/White does not add a color cast. This will simply reflect the light back onto the subject. Silver/Gold reflects more of a yellow color and will warm your subject. Outdoor light in the shade tends to be cool or blue so the addition of a golden cast to the subject will act as a warming effect.
You can find a number of small inexpensive 5-in-1 reflectors on Amazon (click here).
Small 5 in 1 Reflector Disc
Or larger stand up reflectors that can cast a large area of diffused light. These larger panels are great, but they require practice to fold back up. Also found on Amazon (click here).
Large Stand Up Reflector 5 in 1
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