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Category: All About Photography : Photographing Specific Subjects : Destination and Travel Photography Tutorial

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Photography Question 
Charles E. Mann

member since: 2/10/2006
 

Reflectors: White vs. Gold


I've bought a set of reflectors that I like some of the looks I am getting. My problem is when I use the white it doesn't seem strong enough, but when I use the gold it looks better but overpowering, blinding even. Are there some tricks that may help? Thanks in advance.

7/31/2008 8:46:21 AM

 
W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  The white reflector provides the softest, most even fill. Silver gets a harder fill. And gold begets the same harder fill AND changes the color temperature of that fill. Gold is best used for skin tones.
I never use gold, though, since I prefer to twiddle color temp in PP, because that can be more delicate and precise than using a gold reflector.
Have fun!

7/31/2008 9:48:54 AM

 
Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/16/2004
  I've recently moved to San Francisco from Orange County and shoot for a lot of swimwear companies. I've noticed in SoCal the models were obviously much more tan so I used gold reflectors more often. The silver is my most frequently used up in San Francisco. I used the white usually with a strobe since it's so minimal. You can even shoot a strobe through the white and use it as a diffuser. All and all, it's all kinda personal preference...

7/31/2008 9:14:20 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  Gold is used for warming skin tone mostly. Silver is a highlighting reflector. White is used most often and is the reflector that is most often sold. I mainly use white. I use silver very rarely, and use, like Oliver, gold for beach shots.
Have fun and keep shooting!

8/3/2008 1:27:41 PM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Charles,
You didn't mention the size of the reflectors or material. These will also determine the overall effect besides color.
The brightness issue is easily handled by moving further away with the reflector if too bright; now you have to deal with "light spill". Different subject.
As mentioned, reflectors come in many sizes, shapes and reflective material. Some provide "hard" light, some "soft" and everything in between. Some reflect nearly 100 percent of the light "mirror" some reflect a low percentage such as a deeply textured flat white reflector.
Some cover a very small area, maybe just a subject's face, while some cover a huge amount of space such as photographing a full size jet aircraft and covering the walls of the hanger with white (or any color necessary) material if necessary.
It all comes down to size, material and reflectivity.
all the best,
Pete

8/3/2008 8:28:47 PM

 
Charles E. Mann

member since: 2/10/2006
  Thanks for the help everyone. I don't rememeber the size of the reflector, it folds and pops open, 18-22 inches? I diffently don't know what it's made of. I was talking the brightness of the gold, it made the subjects squint badly. Will try the moving farher away wih the Gold. the white I even tried moving closer, I was trying to fill shadows. will look into better materials.

8/4/2008 8:30:03 AM

 
W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
"it made the subjects squint badly"

If you use a reflector outdoors, in bright daylight, your subjects will of course ALWAYS squint: they're looking directly at a reflection of the sun, for gossakes!

Outdoors, in bright daylight, it is MUCH better to use fill-flash* while the subjects have the sun at their backs or sides: no undue squinting.

Have fun!

8/4/2008 10:18:52 AM

 
A C
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/6/2004
  get a larger reflector?

if I'm in the shade, the white doesn't do much good unless I grab some of that sun that isn't in the shade

make sense?

So I'll have my subject close to the edge of the shade (if I want them in the shade) so my reflector doesn't have to be. Then I use the white side

8/4/2008 4:52:15 PM

 
W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
And then your subject is again/still looking straight at a reflection of the sun! And squinting...

8/4/2008 11:24:23 PM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Bunny
Bunny's Gallery

member since: 11/16/2004
  I've found that using a large sheet of white foam core available through arts and crafts stores, produces a more reflective capability that my white Lite-Disc. I attach it to the PhotoDisc holder on a light stand when I don't have someone to hold it for me. Then, I aim my flash (or the sun) at the foam core and bounce that into the shadow of subject.

Or, when capturing subjects in open shade, and I don't want the harsh light of a flash directly on the subject, I use the larger light source (the flash bounced to the foam core) as my main light and the ambient light as fill.

This is a tip an local portrait photographer-instructor in Louisiana taught us as an inexpensive bounce lighting solution.

Bounce lighting when it comes from white foam core does not cause squinting unlike the sun, or gold/silver reflectors. It also produces good tonality on the skin with outdoor portraits from my experience.

8/5/2008 11:49:01 AM

 
Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/16/2004
  I shoot for clothing companies all the time...how I make a living. I use 2 reflectors all the time a 3 ft 5x1 and a 6ft 5x1. I recommend you just buy a 6fter on EBay...they fold up compact but a foam core piece doesn't. I think I paid $40 for it online...I mean how much cheaper can it get???? my local photo store would sell it for $175.

8/5/2008 12:33:21 PM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Bunny
Bunny's Gallery

member since: 11/16/2004
  Oliver, Charles has a set of Lite-Discs, already. I was just offering a more reflective alternative to the White Lite-Disc which is not that reflective in comparison. And, you are correct, the Lite-Discs fold up and are easier to carry than the foam core, but the foam core is highly reflective and is another inexpensive solution, which cost me less than $10/sheet.

8/5/2008 1:11:57 PM

 
Charles E. Mann

member since: 2/10/2006
  Thanks again BP family! All the advise is well recieved, can't wait to go try some of your ideas.

8/7/2008 7:50:03 AM

 

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