Collapsible reflectors are dirt cheap – you can get one for around 20€ at your favorite online dealer. But what are they good for?
The one I bought is a bit more than 100 cm in diameter and offers a black, white, silver and gold side as well as a translucent diffuser.
So for a little testing to show how useful the effect can be I took my two “Häkelschweine” and did a quick shooting!
First of all the picture without the reflector. The light comes from two windows, one behind and one to the right of my cute models. The reflector was placed on the left.
As you can see there are relatively harsh shadows on the left side as well as under the ears. Nothing dramatic because there is no direct sunlight but it could be better.
Using the white reflector
The white reflector is matte so it doesn’t reflect that much light. Nevertheless it improves the evenness of the lighting quite a bit.
On to the golden reflector
The golden reflector gives a warm light and because it is glossy the image looks almost as if a flash had been used.
The silver side
Like the golden side the silver side is glossy and it reflects even more light. It is more difficult to use and produces relatively hard, cold light.
Last but nor least (*) – the translucent diffuser
The diffuser is simply held above the subjects to make the lighting more even. The effect is clearly different and I can imagine most useful when combined with a second diffuser or a flash.
Summary: Reflectors are cheap, simple to use, small (40 cm diameter when folded) and give good results. If from time to time you are doing portraits or product photography there is no cheaper way to get much better pictures than with a simple reflector. You can also build your own with Styrofoam or aluminium foil on a wooden board but why all the hassle when you get the same delivered and ready to use for under 30€? The only downside is that you might need a second person or a stand to help you holding it and when it’s windy this thing is like a sail.
(*) I couldn’t find a use for the black side. Maybe when there is direct sunlight?