BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Robert Park
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/21/2005

Do-It-Yourself Reflectors

Hi. I want to start using reflectors but I don't want to buy them. I heard white cardboard works just as well. I have those foil mats that you put on the car's windows to reflect back the sun and I could just attach a piece of cardboard to it to keep it firm. Will white cardboard or the foil mat work better to substitute a reflector? Thanks and any help is appreciated!

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12/10/2005 1:05:34 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Hi Robert: Well, you can make reflector panels out of just about anything from cloth stretched out on a frame made from PVC pipe to 4x8 or smaller pieces of foamcore with material stretched over it or glued in place. You can take foamcore and spray paint it gold or whatever color to bounce light into a subject. And, you can even get some sheets of plywood and use a clamp to attach a reflector surface to them so that they can be changed a lot. What we do in our studio is cut the plywood into 4x4-foot sections and then hinge them together so they can be folded up for storage or loading in a truck.

And just plain old white poster board that you can buy at an office or art supply store works fine. too. Sure, you can use the foil car reflectors you mentioned, with or without a firm backing. In fact, if you've got an assistant or helper, they can hold that reflector where you want it.

So, just about anything will work. But remember: Different textures will have different degrees of reflectance, and if you're working in color, the surface of your reflector - say, gold, for example - will tend to cast that color of light on your subject.

Okie dokie?
Take it light.

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12/10/2005 3:14:17 PM

Peter K. Burian
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
  Robert: Yes, as Mark said, each type of surface produces a different effect.

Foil: tends to be harsh but reflects a great deal of light, useful sometimes

White poster board: softer light and not as bright

Regards, Peter Burian, Instructor,
Mastering The Digital Camera and Photography

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12/13/2005 6:49:50 AM

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