When To Use Different Reflector Colors?

When To Use Different Reflector Colors? | Photo Spices
When To Use Different Reflector Colors? | Photo Spices

First of all, I need to point out that some reflectors have 5 different materials on them that can be removed and changed out to use a different material via a zipper.  Other reflectors just have one color.  I personally recommend the Westcott 5-in-1 reflector for size, versatility, price, and durability.  I’ve tried other brands and they don’t seem to be as durable in my experience.

The White Side

I use the white side most of the time, but I usually recommend that beginners use the silver side in most situations.  The white side casts a very soft, clean light at the model and is useful in studio where flash is used, or when there is ample light outside like during a sunny noon-time shoot.

The reason I usually get beginners started off on the silver side is that beginners rarely put the reflector close enough to the model, so the white side shows no effect at all.  Also, the white side is useless in low light situations unless it is extremely close to the model’s face.

The Gold Side

The metallic gold material casts a very strong warm light onto the subject.  Every time I decide to get fancy and try the gold, the subject ends up with a radioactive-looking gold face.  I have seen some reflectors with a zig-zag white/gold side that I’d like to try, but I haven’t given it a shot yet.

I have used the gold side with success only a few times for sunset portraits when the sunset was very yellow.  Other than that, it is not overly useful in my practical experience.

The Black Side

The black side isn’t a reflector at all.  It’s an anti-reflector.  Photographers use a black reflector to cast a shadow on certain areas of the image.  For example, if the lights are producing too even of a light on the model’s face, a the black side of the reflector can cut out the light on one side to create more artistic shadows.  If you want to sound like a photographer who is in-the-know, you should call the black side of a reflector a “flag” when used for this purpose.

The Silver Side

As I already mentioned, I recommend this side for beginners who never seem to realize how close the reflector should be placed to the model.  The silver side is terrific for shooting in low light or where a strong light is needed; however, the light is often too strong for mid-day shooting unless it is feathered away.  Many photographers use the silver side more than any other, but I personally end up using white more.

The Translucent Center

When you zip off the reversible material on a reflector, the middle of the frame is a translucent material called a diffuser.  This side of the reflector is usually held directly above the subject to soften the sun’s natural light.  It will always go between the light source and the subject.

I use the translucent diffuser quite commonly.  When I shoot sunset portraits on the beach, the wind is often too strong to use an umbrella or a softbox, so I like to use the diffuser as a convenient way to soften the hard light produced by my bare strobe when I’m in a pinch.

SOURCEJim Harmer
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Jaskeerat Devgun is 92 born photographer and Also a mentor who picked up his real camera in 2010 and graduated in photography. When I'm not busy photographing models, events or mentoring others or blogging with Photo Spices or clicking some natural moments and experimenting, I spend my time watching TV, movies, reading magazines, listening music.