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How a reflector can improve your photography

November 30, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

As a teenager I remember reading books on photography for beginners and one of the first rules of photography was never shoot into the sun. The great thing about photography is some rules are made to be broken! If you look closely at my images or you've seen me at work, you may have noticed I often shoot with the sun behind my subject. In this blog I show a simple but effective way of improving your photography by bouncing natural light back on to your model using just a reflector.

How a reflector can improve your photography. Grace Parry whimsical photoshoot - image by Phil Jones PhotographyGrace Parry whimsical photoshoot - images by Phil Jones PhotographyHow a reflector can improve your photography. Grace Parry whimsical photoshoot - image by Phil Jones Photography

Above: Image of model Grace Parry shot using natural light and a silver 110cm reflector

Reflectors come in all different shapes and sizes, and a photographic reflector can be purchased from as little as £10. You could actually use a piece of white paper which works well for macro photography. You can then cut and shape your reflector. It's also worth pointing out that like any light source the larger the light source is, the softer the light will be.

Below: My first test shot shows beautiful autumn light directly behind model Kelly Amber but she looks is too dark and requires a fill light.

Test shot without a reflectorTest shot without a reflectorTest shot without a reflector

Below: By holding a silver reflector to bounce the natural light back on to our subject, the image completely changes its appearance.

When using natural light a silver reflector can easily add a fill light on the model creating amazing resultsShot with a silver reflector When using natural light a silver reflector can easily add a fill light on the model creating amazing results

Below: This screen grab shows the Raw image in Adobe Lightroom. All the sun flare is natural and not added in Photoshop.

Image in LightroomImage in LightroomA screen grab of model Kelly Image shown in Adobe Lightroom

There are lots of different types and shapes of reflectors available, a small collapsable reflector is light to carry and will fit in the back of most camera bags. I have 3 types of reflectors in my kit which I use.

• A Lastolite LR3041 white and gold which is 75cm in diameter 

• A 110cm 5 in 1 reflector, which features a diffuser panel, a black blocking out panel and a silver, white and gold reflector.

• My 3rd reflector is a silver foldable windscreen cover which cost me £1. Actually, it cost Mrs Jones £1 but I borrowed it on a long term basis!

3 types of reflectors which I use.
• A Lastolite LR3041 white and Gold which is 75cm in diameter 
• A 110cm 5 in 1 reflector, which features a diffuser panel, a black blocking out panel and a silver, white and gold reflectors.
• My 3rd reflector is a silver foldable windscreen cover which cost me £1. 3 types of reflectors which I use3 types of reflectors which I use. • A Lastolite LR3041 white and Gold which is 75cm in diameter  • A 110cm 5 in 1 reflector, which features a diffuser panel, a black blocking out panel and a silver, white and gold reflectors. • My 3rd reflector is a silver foldable windscreen cover which cost me £1.

How I use my reflector.

I normally keep my reflector a little distance from the model to create a fill light, for me it makes the image look very natural and doesn't produce a harsh, overpowering light. In some cases you may want a strong light, in fashion for example, as always it's what works for you and your style of photography. Depending on where I'm working and who I'm with I would either ask an assistance to hold the reflector for me, lean it against a nearby object or a tripod or more often than not attach to my reflector holder boom arm or tie it to my camera backpack with a piece of rope - it works for me!

Below: An image from a Boho shoot in July 2013 with model Sasha Wright being a bad influence on my daughter! See how I've attached the reflector to a extendable boom arm and stand, I haven't yet positioned it correctly but you can see how the gold light bounces back onto the models dress and right arm.

A gold reflector fixed on an adjustable boom arm and standA gold reflector fixed on an adjustable boom arm and standA gold reflector fixed on an adjustable boom arm and stand

Below: A soft warm natural fill light created by a gold reflector on this unedited image.

Using just a gold reflector fixed on an adjustable boom arm and stand can create beautiful resultsA gold Lastolite reflectorUsing just a gold reflector fixed on an adjustable boom arm and stand can create beautiful results

Below: By holding the gold reflector closer to the model I created a harder light. Both images below have not been retouched.

Natural evening light and a gold Lastolite reflectorNatural evening light and a gold Lastolite reflectorNatural evening light and a gold Lastolite reflector. Hold it closer to your subject for a harder light Natural evening light and a gold Lastolite reflectorNatural evening light and a gold Lastolite reflectorNatural evening light and a gold Lastolite reflector

Below: I love this shot of model Grace Gray which I have retouched using frequency separation in Photoshop.

Lit with a silver reflector bouncing natural lightGrace Gray head shotLit with one silver reflector bouncing natural light

Look closely at the next image which is a video grab and you'll see in this behind the scenes shot how the reflector as it's laid down bouncing back the sunlight as it appears overhead.

Behind the scenes with Grace Gray. Look below Grace's knees to see the silver reflector bouncing natural lightBehind the scenes with Grace Gray. Behind the scenes with Grace Gray. Look below Grace's knees to see the silver reflector bouncing natural light

Below: An unedited image shows the soft even light as it reflects back onto Grace

An unedited image shows the soft even light as it reflects back onto GraceAn unedited image shows the soft even light as it reflects back onto GraceAn unedited image shows the soft even light as it reflects back onto Grace

Below: Earlier in the day Grace Gray and I created fitness and wellbeing images, using my reflector this time resting against and tied to my Manfrotto Bumblebee backpack. Look closely at the eyes and you'll see the reflector in her eyes. In some shots I actually remove different catch lights from the eyes in Photoshop. Showing just one catch light in the eyes makes a nicer image.

Pretty healthy woman in park preparing for yoga exercises. Health and Fitness Photoshoot with model Grace Gray lit with a silver reflector. Photo by Phil Jones Photography.Lit with a silver reflectorPretty healthy woman in park preparing for yoga exercises. Health and Fitness Photoshoot with model Grace Gray lit with a silver reflector. Photo by Phil Jones Photography. Happy young fit woman. Pretty redhead female wearing sports clothing.

Using a silver reflector, see the catch light in her eyes. Photo by Phil Jones Photography.PJPL1252-Edit lo resHappy young fit woman. Pretty redhead female wearing sports clothing. Using a silver reflector, see the catch light in her eyes. Photo by Phil Jones Photography. Bouncing natural light with a reflector Pulse. Sport woman checking her pulse looking at her watch. Concept sport and fitness.Bouncing natural light with a reflectorBouncing natural light with a reflector Pulse. Sport woman checking her pulse looking at her watch. Concept sport and fitness.

If you are shooting on a breezy day and the reflector isn't firmly fixed, expect your model to chase it a few times as this image of Alex demonstratesChasing the light!If you are shooting on a breezy day and the reflector isn't firmly fixed, expect your model to chase it a few times as this image of Alex demonstrates Above: If you are shooting on a breezy day and the reflector isn't firmly fixed, expect your model to chase it a few times as this image of Alex demonstrates.

Below.: Imported into Adobe Lightroom before adjusting the colours. Notice on this RAW image how I used the gold reflector to make the image feel as if it's sunset golden time. Spend some time in Photoshop and your image will really come alive.

This grab shows a Raw image in Adobe Lightroom before it has been retouched or the colours and contrast changedRaw image in Adobe LightroomThis grab shows a Raw image in Adobe Lightroom before it has been retouched or the colours and contrast changed

Below: You guessed it, a silver reflector with the sun directly behind my model Andrea. I think this creates a lovely even light over her skin.

Bouncing light with Model Andrea and a silver reflector (Photo by Phil Jones Photography)Bouncing lightBouncing light with Model Andrea and a silver reflector (Photo by Phil Jones Photography)  

Two silver reflectors bouncing natural light onto model Kelly for this beach shot. Image has not been retouched in Photoshop.Two silver reflectors bouncing natural light onto model Kelly for this beach shotTwo silver reflectors bouncing natural light onto model Kelly for this beach shot. Image has not been retouched in Photoshop. Above: This unedited image of Kelly was taken using 2 reflectors fixed to stands and clamped together.

Below: Take a look at my Ethereal video on YouTube to see the results my assistant for the day Emma White created using a silver reflector on location. This was also mixed with an off-camera speedlite flash. Click the here to see the video.

Watch my ethereal shoot to see how we mixed flash with a reflectorethereal shoot mixing flash and a reflectorWatch my ethereal shoot to see how we mixed flash with a reflector

 

New work with model and actor Grace Parry

This is also a great opportunity for me to share new images from a shoot on 31st October 2016 with the very lovely model/actor Grace Parry with the very talented Make-Up Artist Grace Gray. We were fortunate enough to have amazing warm low October sunlight which looked beautiful. For the majority of the images I rested my silver reflector against my tripod which I positioned approximately 10' from my model and that was it! Of course having a beautiful and talented model and a great makeup artist helps!

Thanks to a great model, a fantastic Hair and Make-Up artist and amazing sunlight I absolutely love the results we all created and hope you do too. Amazing sun light but we still needed to have a fill light to capture Grace Parry on this whimsical photoshoot - images by Phil Jones PhotographyGrace Parry whimsical photoshootAmazing sun light but we still needed to have a fill light to capture Grace Parry on this whimsical photoshoot - images by Phil Jones Photography

Above: ISO 400 f3.5 1/400 Sec Shot with a Canon 5D mkIII and a 70-200mm f2.8 L USM lens.

Amazing sun light but we still needed to have a fill light to capture Grace Parry on this whimsical photoshoot - images by Phil Jones PhotographyModel and Actor Grace ParryAmazing sun light but we still needed to have a fill light to capture Grace Parry on this whimsical photoshoot - images by Phil Jones Photography Amazing sun light for this headshot but we still needed to have a fill light to capture Grace Parry on this whimsical photoshoot, we used a silver reflector - images by Phil Jones PhotographyHeadshot with Grace ParryAmazing sun light for this headshot but we still needed to have a fill light to capture Grace Parry on this whimsical photoshoot, we used a silver reflector - images by Phil Jones Photography Using a reflector can improve your photography when shooting in natural lightUsing a reflector can improve your photography when shooting in natural lightUsing a reflector can improve your photography when shooting in natural light Using a reflector can improve your photography when shooting in natural lightUsing a reflector can improve your photographyUsing a reflector can improve your photography when shooting in natural light. Image of Grace Parry Using a foldable silver windscreen shield as a reflector Using a foldable silver windscreen shield as a reflector Using a foldable silver windscreen shield as a reflector and it only cost £1

Above: This image uses my silver windscreen reflector wrapped to try and create an unusual bounce effect. Notice how you can see in the top corners of the image the edge of the reflector which could be removed in Photoshop if required.

A subtle fill light helps make the image look natural. Image of model Grace Parry by Phil Jones Photography. Makeup by Grace Gray.A subtle fill lightA subtle fill light helps make the image look natural. Image of model Grace Parry by Phil Jones Photography. Makeup by Grace Gray. A subtle fill light helps make the image look natural. Image of model Grace Parry by Phil Jones Photography. Makeup by Grace Gray.Makeup by Grace Gray.A subtle fill light helps make the image look natural. Image of model Grace Parry by Phil Jones Photography. Makeup by Grace Gray. Grace Parry whimsical photoshoot - images by Phil Jones PhotographyGrace Parry whimsical photoshoot - images by Phil Jones PhotographyGrace Parry whimsical photoshoot - images by Phil Jones Photography

Grace Parry whimsical photoshoot - images by Phil Jones PhotographyGrace Parry whimsical photoshoot - images by Phil Jones PhotographyGrace Parry whimsical photoshoot - images by Phil Jones Photography

If you've never used a reflector before, I hope this blog inspires you to give it a go. With Christmas just around the corner you know what to add to your list or buy for a budding photographer! Make sure you share your results with me. You can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Philjonesphotography

Here's a link to Lastolite reflectors by Manfrotto, prices start from as little as £12.95 Click here

 

Thanks to all the models featured and a big thank you to the lovely Grace Parry. If you haven't seen her amazing acting skills please check out her Showreel below.

Last but by but not least, thanks again to the brilliant and amazing Grace Gray model and Make-Up Artist. Grace has just launched her new website Grace Gray Make-Up Artist, please take a look and follow her on Facebook and Instagram. It goes without saying if you're looking for a MUA, then Grace is your girl!

Grace Gray Make-Up Artist new websiteGrace Gray Make-Up ArtistGrace Gray Make-Up Artist new website

http://www.gracegraymakeupartist.com

 

You can also find me on Instagram @PhilJonesPhoto

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