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Thread: What reflector?

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    Doc W's Avatar
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    What reflector?

    I do mostly large format photography with available light but occasionally I find that nature needs a little boost. I have some favourite spots around the house for portraits but they tend to be a little too backlit. I need a reflector that can throw a little more light on my subject to balance things out a little. I don't have a lot of experience with lighting and never use flash so I am a little in the dark (pardon the pun). I have used a very small reflector in the past but I think I need something to bring out the entire subject. Any suggestions? Size? Material? My main requirement is that it be portable.

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    ParkerSmithPhoto's Avatar
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    One of my favorite tricks is to simply mimic (and supplement) the available light by shooting strobes in through windows. A hard source will give you a crisp light as if the sun were low in the sky and lighting the room. You can also cover the window with a sheet and shoot the light through that for a soft light. If someone has white shutters or window coverings, I sometimes close those and then bounce a soft box off that surface for another soft, north light feel.

    I would suggest getting a White Lightning or Alien Bees head and maybe adding a soft box later. You can do a hell of a lot with one strobe and a white sheet.

    For reflectors, just find an inexpensive one with a silver surface. You can also use those reflectors made for car dashboards.
    Parker Smith Photography, Inc.
    Atlanta, GA

    Commercial & Fine Art Photography
    Portrait Photography

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    I like the collapsable photo reflectors (you can see a wide variety at the B&H web site). 42 inch reversable white/silver meets my needs best for indoor work like you describe.

    One can also use a piece of white foam core board and crinkle aluminum foil too. I did that for years and it works but isn't compact.

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    Hexavalent's Avatar
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    Don,

    I've got black powder and magnesium - let's make an old-fashioned flash-pan. Reflectors aren't nearly as much fun
    - Ian

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    Doc W's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hexavalent View Post
    Don,

    I've got black powder and magnesium - let's make an old-fashioned flash-pan. Reflectors aren't nearly as much fun
    I am in. Follow-up question: where do we get the flame-retardent suits?

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    Doc W's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
    I like the collapsable photo reflectors (you can see a wide variety at the B&H web site). 42 inch reversable white/silver meets my needs best for indoor work like you describe.

    One can also use a piece of white foam core board and crinkle aluminum foil too. I did that for years and it works but isn't compact.
    I was looking at those collapsible reflectors. I have a very small one and wondered if the large would be unwieldy, but I guess not. Thanks.

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    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Cheapest, simplest is a piece of foamcore. Depending on your needs, you can keep it white, you can cover it with aluminum foil to make it brighter and silvery for more of a cool tone, or spray paint it gold for a warm reflection. Or if you want to get more high-end, get some of those collapsible reflector discs mentioned in a previous post. if you get the discs, they also sell an arm you can clip to a lightstand to help hold the reflector when you don't have an assistant to hold it.

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    Hexavalent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc W View Post
    I am in. Follow-up question: where do we get the flame-retardent suits?
    Have you noticed that those flame-retardent suits are usually made of a shimmery, metallic looking material? They make good reflectors! The economics are looking sound.
    - Ian

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    Quote Originally Posted by snapguy View Post
    I'm so durned old that I remember photographers who as young whippersnappers used flash powder in the days before those new-fangled flash bulbs. You could always look to see if they were telling the truth about using flash powder -- the real guys always had a part of a finger or two or three missing. If they used a tad too much flash powder, there would be an huge explosion....
    This tickles my sense of adventure. I have never taken a portrait while crouching behind a blastwall. Digital could never be this exciting.

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    mweintraub's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hexavalent View Post
    Don,

    I've got black powder and magnesium - let's make an old-fashioned flash-pan. Reflectors aren't nearly as much fun
    Do you have a good recipe? I've been meaning to try this with my 4x5. My co-worker has been bugging me about creating a setup like that.

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