We live in Arizona, the desert, home to snakes and scorpions, mountains and valleys, dirt and dust, cacti, open skies, and lots and lots of sunshine. Needless to say, we rarely have to reschedule sessions due to weather. The natural sunlight is as consistent as anywhere in the world. The light asphalt in the city and light gravel in the desert provide plenty of natural reflectors to fill pretty light into our subjects’ faces. We rarely, if ever, see a cloudy day for an entire day, which means most of the time we don’t need to use artificial reflectors to bounce light to fill the shadows on our clients’ faces.
But even though we don’t need to use a reflector all the time, we always have it handy for those occasional cloudy days, and it’s a life-saver! For photographers in more precipitous parts of the country, it’s a must-have in our book. We did an anniversary session for this adorable couple in Nashville last week while in town to shoot this cute couple’s wedding, and on the day of the anniversary session, the clouds were in full force and had formed a veil over the sun. We actually love this kind of light! Even though it prevents us from using backlighting the way we like to, it’s an awesome opportunity to face our clients any direction we want since the light is soft everywhere, so it makes any location a lot more fun and versatile!
When we were photographing them at a distance, like in this example below, it wasn’t necessary to use any type of reflector to fill the shadows on their faces, because a) they’re so far away that we couldn’t use a reflector without being in the shot, and b) their faces are such a small part of the overall frame that it doesn’t make a noticeable difference.
However, as we got closer to our subjects to shoot tighter angles and even head shots, you’ll notice in the example below, which is straight out of camera (SOOC), that our subjects have shadows under their eyes and nose, and even on the broad side of their face, especially Ryan’s right cheek.
So, since it was a cloudy day, we busted out our Wescott 46-inch reflector and opened it up to the silver-gold side. It comes with gold, silver, silver-gold, and white, and we prefer silver-gold the most because, like Goldilocks:
a) gold is too warm
b) silver is too cold
c) and silver-gold is juussst right!
Here’s how we used the reflector to bounce beautiful light onto our subjects’ faces to get our photos as close to perfect in camera as possible:
1. Jordan took the reflector and stood at a 45-degree angle from our client, since Amy was shooting them straight on.
2. He held the reflector open to the sky, almost flat, at just a slight angle to bounce the light from the sky back into their faces.
3. Magic happened.
Again, here’s the SOOC version of this shot on the left and the SOOC version with the reflector on the right with THE EXACT SAME SETTINGS!:
What?! How crazy is that?! The camera settings are exactly the same, but adding that little bounce of light goes a looong way!
Also, here’s the final edit on the far right of the photo so you can see all three. No reflector SOOC (left), with reflector SOOC (middle), and with reflector final edit (right):
So, if you have an assistant, second shooter, or someone who doesn’t mind helping out at your next shoot on a cloudy day, use a reflector for up-close shots to add that little bit of polish to your in-camera work!
We’re so proud of our shooting and editing course students all across the world! They’re shooting better, editing faster and serving their clients better than ever before!
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