How to Use a Reflector

In the world of photography, nothing happens without light. In most cases, there are two types of light that photographers work with: natural light and artificial light. Although I often find myself using artificial light sources, I prefer using natural light whenever possible and consider myself to be a natural light photographer. One of the tools that has made the biggest difference to my natural light photography (and, for that matter, studio photography) is a reflector. In this guide, I will show you how to use a reflector effectively to enhance your photographs by simply bouncing natural light.

1) Choosing a Reflector

If you have never purchased a reflector before, the options that you find once you start looking might be overwhelming. There are large and small reflectors. There are round, rectangular and triangular reflectors. There are white, gold and silver reflectors, as well as combinations of these three colors with names like Sunfire, SoftSilver, Zebra and Sparkling Sun.

One of the first things you’ll want to decide on is the size of reflector you’ll need. If you’re mainly shooting individual portraits, a smaller reflector might work better for you than a larger one. Of course, a larger reflector will generally produce a larger area of softer light, but larger reflectors are also more difficult to handle, so there is a compromise to be made. A 42″ reflector is a pretty common size that is a nice combination of ease of use and nice light.

Once you know the general size you’re looking for, you can start looking at different brands and shapes. You’ll find reflectors that have handles, brackets or frames. You’ll also find reflectors that don’t have any fancy features. You’ll usually pay a premium and have fewer options if you choose a reflector that has a handle or a frame, but the added ease of use might just make it worth the extra money.

Reflectors

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Impact Reflector Panel Review

A reflector is a light shaping tool. When shooting indoors, I often like to have a reflector handy to bounce light back onto my subject. For example, if my subject is standing next to a window there is more light on one side, than the other side. A reflector is helpful to soften the contrast of the window light. Reflectors can be used to bounce studio lighting as well. This is a review for Impact’s Reflector Panel.

Impact Reflector Panel 3

1) Initial Thoughts

I love the size of this reflector. It’s quite large, 35″ x 70″ and is the perfect size for portraits. I used it length wise, and it pretty much covered the entire height of my subject. It folds up nicely for easy storage. There are two different reflective fabrics that come with it– one is white/black combination and the other is a gold/silver combination. I use the white/black combination the most, as that combo yields the most desirable results for me.

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Impact 42″ 5-in-1 Reflector Kit Review

There are times when you wish to manipulate light sources but don’t always have the luxury of having an assistant to position and hold a reflector. The Impact 42″ 5-in-1 Reflector with Lightstand and Holder Kit comes in handy during such situations, as it allows you to tinker with different lighting angles, position the reflector, lock it in place, and carry on with your shoot. It is like having an assistant when one is not available (albeit a rather silent one!). It also comes in handy when it is not convenient to take multiple lights with you on a photo shoot. The reflector kit can act as a “second light” by maximizing the effects of a single light.

5 in 1 Reflector & Stand

1) Initial Thoughts

Once again, Impact has done a good job of combining a few of their quality products into a useful kit at a value-based price.

2) Product Specifications

Impact 5-in-1 Collapsible Circular Reflector Disc – 42″
Shape: Round
Size Open: 42″ (106cm)
Size Closed: 14″ (36cm)
Surfaces: Translucent, Silver, Gold, Silver-Gold, White

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Impact 22″ Beauty Dish Reflector Kit Review

As you know from reading this site, Impact makes a number of excellent products that offer quite a bit of bang for your photography buck. The Impact 22″ Beauty Dish Reflector Kit represents a solid value for those that want to engage in portrait photography, but don’t want to pay more for a beauty dish kit than they paid for their portrait lens.

Olga-Impact-Beauty-Dish-With-Grid

1) Initial Thoughts

This is one well-built kit that will satisfy demanding professionals and amateurs alike.

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Impact 52” Collapsible Circular Reflector Review

This is a review of the Impact 52” Silver/White Collapsible Circular Reflector Disc. It is commonly used for bouncing natural light or flash onto subjects when taking their portrait. I use reflectors with almost all of my portrait work and consider them to be an indispensable tool that I always have with me. I’m used to using a smaller, 30” Lastolite TriGrip by myself, so I was curious to see if I’d still be able to use such a big reflector without the help of an assistant.

Impact 52 inch reflector 1

As you can see, with a little creativity it can definitely be used without an assistant! This should also give you an idea of the size of this reflector.

This reflector has two sides, a white side that’s great for adding some fill light, and a silver side that can provide enough light to act as a key light or just add some much needed fill light to a portrait. I typically use a soft silver reflector (which has both silver and white lines on the same side), so I wasn’t sure which side of this reflector I’d end up using the most. I knew that because of the size of the reflector, I’d get some nice soft light, but would the white side give me enough light? Would the silver side be too harsh? There’s only one way to find out, so I took the plunge and started using it.

1) Product Specifications

1. Shape – Circular
2. Size Open – 52”
3. Size Collapsed – ⅓ open size (18”)
4. Surfaces – Silver, white reflective

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Impact 5-in-1 Collapsible Oval Reflector Review

This is a review of the Impact 5-in-1 Collapsible Oval Reflector, commonly used for bouncing natural light or flash onto subjects when taking their portraits. When working outdoors or in a studio environment, a reflector can be a very effective tool for adding more light to your subject. Often used as a secondary “fill light” to compliment the primary light, reflectors come in different sizes, shapes and surfaces. While the shape of the reflector does not matter as much, the size and the type of surface of the reflector can have a significant impact on the image. In photography, the bigger the light source is, the softer the light it will produce. Hence, bigger reflectors will generally yield softer light than their smaller counterparts.

Impact 5-in-1 Collapsible Oval Reflector

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Impact Multiboom Light Stand and Reflector Holder Review

This is a review of the Impact Multiboom Light Stand and Reflector Holder, used in studio environments for holding lights, reflectors, flags and other light accessories. If you do any studio work, whether it is for photographing models or your clients, it is often necessary to use light reflectors to bounce the main light for softer shadows. Other times you might find yourself in a situation when you have too much light spill and you need to block some of that light with a black card, also known as a “flag”. It is great if you have one or more assistants for these kinds of situations, because they can assist in holding reflectors and flags. But what if you work alone or need to hold multiple reflectors and flags? That’s when a boom comes in handy. I have been shopping around for a good, lightweight, portable and inexpensive boom arm + stand combo, and I think I found a perfect one for my needs.

Impact Multiboom Light Stand and Reflector Holder

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