Working with natural light can be a challenge at times, but having a reflector on hand can be a lifesaver, whether you need more light on a dreary day, or simply want to balance out light on a day with strong sunlight. Affordable, portable, and easy to use, consider adding a reflector if you’ve had difficulty of late getting good naturally-lit images.

What is it?

A portable reflector is a round or oblong, flexible panel that is covered with a cloth that can be various colors. Here is a rundown of what the various colors do:

–          White bounces back light

–          Gold bounces back light and warms it up

–          Silver bounces back light and cools it down

–          Black takes away light (to increase a shadow)

–          White translucent lets you soften light by holding it between the light source and the subject

Reflectors come in many different sizes and can have 3, 5, even 7 surfaces included, which can be flipped around and re-zipped on to get at the color/shade you need. Most of the larger ones fold up into a smaller size so you can zip them into a pouch and carry them around.

How much are they?

Reflectors can cost a little, or a lot. It depends on the quality, how many surfaces they offer, and how large they are. You can even make one with a piece of cardboard and some tinfoil or white cloth. Try to get a larger reflector if you can afford it, in case you need the additional light for a whole body or group shot (rather than just the face or upper body).

How do I use a reflector?

Using a reflector is pretty simple. If you want to bounce light onto the subject (or use the black side) you put it on the side you want as close to the subject as possible. Having someone to hold it can help, unless you want to buy a holder. Pay attention to where your light source is. For example, if the sun is behind the subject and you want to light up the face you would put it in front of them and angle it slightly up to “bounce” light back onto their face for more even tones.

Reflectors can come in handy indoors as well to add more light to a shot and large ones can be used as a background as well. They are pretty useful, feel free to try out the make your own reflector to see how great they work before you decide to add one to your kit!

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