Tips on Reflecting to Your Advantage

For the videographer who's truly on the go, a small folding reflector is often the only piece of lighting equipment that you're able to carry. Small enough to slip into a backpack or under your waistband in the small of your back, those silver and gold-coated fabric circles that pop into semi-rigid discs at the flick of a wrist are usually your last, best, and only hope at improving the image when shooting a talking-head while the sun is high overhead.

And while the reflector will make a dent in those shadows, when you pit a puny piece of shiny fabric against the mighty sun, the sun usually wins. Noontime shadows are hard to erase without something too heavy to tote and too big to fit in a small pack. Facing this sort of dilemma, enterprising shooters do the only thing that will save the shot... they cheat.

To win a face-off against old Sol, have your subject turn his or her back on the sun. Instead of confronting a series of hard shadows in the eye sockets and under the cheeks, nose and chin, this game plan calls for winning the contest by putting the entire face in shadow and then using the reflector as your keylight. Hold the reflector directly above the lens and beam those lumens directly onto your subject. If you position it properly, the reflector will cast a shadow on the front of your lens, eliminating any flare caused by errant sunbeams.

If you can arrange your shot so the background is also in the shade, so much the better. If there's still sky and sunlit scenery behind your subject, just expose for the skin tones and let the camera's clips deal with the background.