Reflectors

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    Hywel
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    Thoughts on reflectors, following post by tfandrew:

    I find reflectors can give a superbly dramatic light, or a subtle fill, but the one thing they aren’t is predictable.

    Which is why I always hump the battery powered strobes around on trips- I *know* they’ll produce useable light whatever the conditions, whereas reflectors might prove almost useless. If you are aiming for one beautiful shot or portraits, reflectors are your best friend. If you have a production schedule, the controllability of flash is hard to beat.

    The other thing I find with reflectors is that no matter what the promises manufacturers make for reflector holders, in real-life shooting situations one needs a person to point them. The reflection is so sensitive to small variations in angle and shape of the reflector that one needs a human being actively pushing and squeezing the reflector around to keep it doing its job.

    I find they are more useful for portraiture than for bondage where I’ll be clambering around finding as many different angles to shoot the tied up girl as possible. That’s certainly true of small reflectors- the reason why we have honking big ones is to try to get head-to-toe light, and even then it often takes two. I remember in Sweden when we had a big team we’d commonly have two crew, one on head-light reflector duty and one on leg-light.

    I find the Lastolite tri-grip reflectors the most generally useful as they are the easiest to point:
    http://www.wexphotographic.com/buy-lastolite-standard-trigrip-reflector-sunfire-silver/p12312
    They do struggle to light from head to toe, so larger panels can be useful so long as you’ve got someone to point them. The best results we’ve had have been with two of these, one for head and one for body/feet.

    I use sunfire reflectors 90% of the time- white fill is nice but you have to get it very close to the model which can be prohibitive for bondage photography as you move around. Silver can be a bit cold and dazzling, gold is definitely overpowering, but soft silver and sunfire work pretty well.

    I’m pretty sure this was done with a Tri-grip sunfire:

    Whereas this was done with the honking big panel:

    And I think this one had multiple people on multiple panels, and as you can see we still had to make a choice to light faces rather than feet:

    The really big panels are a bit heavy to lug around but are much more controllable- and can be left largely unattended if put on two stout C-stands with sandbags. These are also useful for faking sunlight:

    The golden winter sun coming in through the window here is actually mostly a big sunfire reflector with a flash unit at high power bouncing off it. It’s replicating the look of the December sun that was coming in through the window but which wasn’t quite at the right angle to light Aria properly. So I cheated.

    This is the same principle but using the big reflector to fire sunlight in to an otherwise unlit room in Spain. (It was mid-afternoon, hottest part of the day, but the light looks very evening-y. You can tell by the blue sky reflected in the corner of the mirror):

    So… reflectors. Much better than nothing, capable of giving some of THE most dramatic and interesting lighting there is, but a bit hit and miss, a bugger to control, hard to get even lighting from head to toe, really needs a crew person 🙂

    Cheers, Hywel

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