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Lighting Applications & Variations

A large white reflector can be quite handy for a variety of outdoor situations.  It can be placed below a subject's chin to reflect skylight up into the face to lighten eye sockets and add sparkle to the eyes, or used, as in the studio, on the side opposite a main light source to lighten shadows. White reflectors, though less efficient than their silver and gold counterparts, are often a better choice when reflecting a strong, direct light.  The softer light from the white reflector is less likely to make the subject squint.  When reflecting relatively weak light, a silver reflector may be preferable.  When scouting locations, look for white surfaces such as painted walls or fences that can be used in much the same way as the reflector in this example. 


Reflectors have a few notable disadvantages when used outside.  Large reflectors are easily displaced by even a gentle breeze.  If a reflector is not being held by an assistant, it should be secured by sandbags or turf spikes.   Also, reflectors generally require precise positioning and may need to be frequently repositioned in changing lighting conditions.  As a result, reflectors are often held by assistants  

As mentioned earlier, reflecting direct sunlight into a subject's face can result in squinting, if not an all-out scream.  To minimize this problem, feather the reflector's light across the subject's face. 


Outdoor Lighting Diagram 2

Example Outdoor Portrait 2

This example shows how a large white reflector can be used with back lighting to provide flattering lighting. 



 The Lighting Setup

The  lighting apparatus used for this image is shown in the diagram below.   A white 48" X 72" reflector was positioned by an assistant to reflect sunlight coming from behind the subject  back into the face.  The late-fall sun was fairly low in the sky and provided relatively gentle light.  The exposure was determined by the camera and adjusted via exposure compensation to add an additional 1/2 f-stop of exposure.  Without the reflector, the facial lighting would have been dominated by unflattering skylight, and correct exposure based on that  facial lighting would have resulted in a greatly overexposed background.