Reflectors are available with many different surfaces, such as gold (which adds a warm glow to faces) and white (which helps to lift shadows and balance light). You can even get reflectors with multiple surfaces. But how do you know when to use a reflector with one of these different coloured surfaces?
All reflectors work in the same way, but the colours make a real difference in your shots. In the cheat sheet below we’ve illustrated the effects produced by silver, gold and white reflectors.
When to use a reflector
01 Silver reflector
A silver reflector reflects a large amount of light. It’s best to use these at some distance if you’re working in the studio otherwise the light can look too harsh. If you want to make your own, silver foil works a treat. However, they’re not too expensive and most reflectors come with several covers, such as white, silver and gold, so getting one is a good investment.
02 Gold reflector
Gold is best avoided with studio flashlights, which are usually balanced to daylight, as the warm glow that it radiates is likely to create mixed lighting in your final images. This will only mean more work in the digital darkroom later on. If you’re working outside, using a gold cover warms skintones up beautifully.
03 White reflector
A white reflector is ideal when working in the studio as it creates a softer, colour-neutral fill light. You don’t have to use a specially-made reflector, a large piece of white card can be just as effective. Professional studios often use huge sheets of white foamboard. While they’re not that expensive, they take up a lot of space.
How to eliminate harsh shadows when using flash
10 rules of photo composition (and why they work)
What is color temperature: free photography cheat sheet
14 portrait photography tips you’ll never want to forget