Some photographic accidents are lucky and end up in fantastic images. Sadly, way more of them just end up in broken gear. This photographer knocked over his camera simply by opening a collapsible reflector, and it’s caught in a video that’s pretty painful to watch.
5-in-1 reflector is a super-handy tool for both bounding and diffusing the light. Arron Nace from Phlearn shows you seven different setups you can create using a single light, with the addition of a reflector or even simple foamcore. Both the reflector and the foamcore are pretty cheap, yet they are versatile and can help you create a whole lot of lighting setups. Check out some of Arron’s suggestions for using them for portrait photography, both in the studio and outside in the sunlight.
Nearly every professional studio I’ve ever used has these ‘polyboards’ and you‘ve probably even seen them yourself but may not have known what they’re used for. Polyboards are polystyrene boards that usually measure 4 feet wide by 8 feet high and are normally 2 inches thick.
One of the other defining characteristics is that they are often white on one side and black on the other. This dual colour is very important as this gives them two key uses.
Sometimes, getting a sweet lighting setup is a matter of pure luck and this is the case with this setup. I’ll collect setups like tools, so this one is just another tool in my toolbox now. Anyways, back to the story.
Here is my issue, taking a portrait whist using a single key light and reflector and fighting with the reflector in one hand and the camera in the other cant be something unique to me. You know what I am talking about, super quick and clean ‘clamshell’ lighting with the key just above the models eyeline and the reflector just below the chin bouncing some well needed light back up to fill in the shadows. This means micromanaging the reflector with your left hand (assuming you are a righty) while trying to bounce just the right amount of light back into the shot. There is really no way out of this not-enough-hands-mess: you’re scooping, flapping, bouncing and bending the damn thing around the key-light stand with one hand desperately trying to look professional. The result? I wish I could say that I mastered it but when I load the images up on the laptop I find that half the damn shots have an annoying reflector part peeking in the bottom of the frame! Not good.
A while back I found myself in a pinch. The setup included a model, and two hair lights positioned behind her and a reflector bouncing light back into the shot. I placed the reflector on a stand and I was literally holding the camera up in front of it so that the viewfinder was pressed against it and taking pictures using the blessings of autofocus alone because I couldn’t look through the lens.
I then had an epiphany. I cut a very rudimentary hole in the middle of my reflector so I could see what was actually going on, standing behind the reflector and having only my lens poke through.
I did change the lights a bit and replaced the two hair lights with a big softbox behind the model and having the reflector double duty as both the key-light and the fill-light. In actuality this super simple setup produces such a flattering light that its got to be one of the cheapest ring flashes you’ll ever find. (diagrams courtesy of set.a.light)
A while back we featured the Eyelighter by Westcott. It gives really gorgeous catch lights and helps to provide fill and light from the bottom. A little after we saw a first DIY version of the Eyelighter which involved bending PVC pipes using hot sand and an industrial fan. While the results of this DIY were really nice, not everyone wants to go through the efforts connected with bending PVC pipes.
Here is an easier (though not as sturdy) alternative for building a DIY Eyelighter courtesy of Isiah Xiong.
It is no secret that we love reflectors here on DIYP, and we’ve shared quite a few reflector tips before. This one from The Slanted Lens is kinda different though, as it does not show you how to actually use a reflector but it shows you what to do when there is no line of sight between the light source and the reflector.
Sometimes, the set dictates that light should be reflected from a certain location,. Mostly when you are using the sun light to light interior locations, like when you are deciphering hieroglyphs in a pyramid. But if that location has no light, you need to figure out a way to get light into there. This is where double reflection comes in.
The solution that TSL suggests is quite simple – Double Reflect. Set a soft reflector where you want the light on the subject to be coming from, then set a second, hard reflector, where the sun is. Use the hard reflector as the light source and use the soft reflector as, well…, a reflector.
While Double Reflection does require two reflectors, as the name suggests, it is a great way to get natural light to places that are hard to reach. And while JP uses high production bug reflectors, even a set of two small 5in1 reflectors @$20 each can do the job.
[Using Double Reflectors to Light a Cave | The Slanted Lens]
As I mentioned in my last post, one piece of gear that I use in almost every photo set up is a piece of white foam board. I just like it’s non-specular, soft, even bounce. So, last time I talked about making your own white foam board holder. but I have a couple other little tricks to hold my white boards in place.
One of my favorite lighting accessoris that I use on almost everyone shoot, is simple piece of white foam board. You can get them at an art supply store or even the dollar store sometimes.. So a 30 x 40 inch white board can cost between a $1 and $5 depending on where you shop. Not a bad deal for all you can do with it. Whenever I can bounce light vs. setting up a fill light, I’ll always use that option.. it adds nice fill light without being “sourcey”