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Old Jan 31, 2009, 4:20 PM   #1
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Recently I've been reading a book about lighting and photography. One of the things they talked about was reflectors, and the examples they show with and without were pretty striking. So I wandered over to my local camera shop to see if they made a reflector that would fit in my camera bag (anything large would end up in the closet unused). I found this cute 12" reflector that folds into a case small enough to fit into the front pocket of the Slingshot 200 along with my polarizer and other stuff that's there. I ended up getting one that has gold on one side and silver on the other - you can get them with white on a side also.

Of course, I had to try it out, so a couple of days later headed over to the botanical gardens. I discovered that the differences can be quite subtle, and getting the warm glow from the gold side partly depends on your subject (there wasn't much difference when I was taking pictures of green ferns).

My computer is in the shop, so I'm using my husband's iMac. It doesn't have Lightroom or Photoshop, so I thought I'd take Tom's advice and download the trial version of Aperture. I now know why some people prefer its photo organization abilities - they are much easier. And I love having the plug-in that allows you to upload photos directly from Aperture to zenfolio (there's plugins for most of the bigger photo hosting sites) - what a timesaver!

This is actually a test - I cropped the pictures but didn't do any other processing to them (no color, resizing, sharpening etc.). Just exported them to zenfolio. I'm interested to see how the zenfolio software handles resizing a full sized picture. I could also have Aperture resize them upon export to a specified size but when I tried that with Lightroom, the smaller files were softened and needed some USM in Photoshop. I'm interested to see if these are softer than the originals.

First, here's the flower without using the reflector at all.



The shutter speed was 1/160 at f5.6, 210 mm, ISO 1600. There's really not enough light for this.

Now I used the silver side of the reflector to reflect some filtered sunlight onto the flower. This is an interesting experience since I'm alone and don't have a tripod with me. I'm hand-holding the K20/DA 55-300 in my right hand only, holding the reflector in my left hand, trying to angle it correctly to add light to the flower. This would be much easier with a tripod and a remote, I'm not really strong enough for the way I did it.

Here's the picture with the silver side of the reflector. The light I was reflecting wasn't that bright since it was filtered by trees, but it was enough to change the ISO to 800 (same shutter speed and aperture), a 1 stop difference. The extra light also filled in some of the shadows (the reflector was low).



To compare, here's the one with the gold side reflecting. You can see the warm light it added (as well as the fact the focus was off - it focused more on the front petals than the previous two shots).



However, I wasn't as successful with ferns. You can see a difference between with and without the reflector, but there's no real difference between the silver and gold side. All three pictures have the same exposure settings, but you can see how the reflector added light to the fern leaf, making the background less bright (and less obvious).

Without reflector:



With reflector:



And:



The last three pictures weren't cropped - I just uploaded the full sized pictures unedited. I'm going to be interested to see how zenfolio's software does resizing them.

Final conclusion is that the reflector is going to be well worth the $14 I spent on it. I'm sure I could have gotten it cheaper on-line, but I really do like having a good camera store around the corner.
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Old Jan 31, 2009, 4:27 PM   #2
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Thanks for the info. I too am interested in the use of reflectors in that it is a good way to use natural light as a supplemet vs. using say a flash as fill-in.The effect through subtle is noticeable.

While I have not tried this outdoors (due to the weather in these parts), I imagine the effect on people pictures would be excellent. Most portrait pro's rely on reflectors and for $14 this seems like a great investment. Do you mind sharing the brand/make of the reflector?
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Old Jan 31, 2009, 5:04 PM   #3
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Quite informative Harriet,
you never cease to amaze me with your ability to take good pix, even one handed!
I have trouble using both hands. :? I've been tempted to buy some reflectors also. I wish I still had the collapsible sun screens I had when I still drove a 4 wheel vehicle, you know the ones you put in the windshield to block the sun while you're parked. I bet they would work pretty well.:-? has anyone tried this?

GW:bye:
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Old Jan 31, 2009, 8:11 PM   #4
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My reflector is sort-of a small version of one of those reflective windshield sunblock.

Here's the case it "fold" into, along with the lens cap for the lens that I used to take the picture - the 77 Limited. It gives you an idea of the size. The lighting was the 540 flash operated wirelessly (the on-camera flash set for controller only, so it wasn't adding light) and facing away from the subject and into the gold side of the reflector. The picture has been resized by zenfolio.



And here's a picture of the lens cap, the case and the reflector itself (silver side up), this time taken with the DA 12-24 (I needed something wider). This one I resized when I exported from Aperture (seeing if their resizing causes the same slight softness that LR does when it resizes). No resizing by my photo hosting site.

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Old Jan 31, 2009, 8:22 PM   #5
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Thanks for the examples, very interesting results.
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Old Jan 31, 2009, 8:31 PM   #6
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Harriet, very interesting posting. I've been wanting to do some experimenting, too, and ordered one of the large 5-in-1 sets from Adorama, primarily for use in portraits. The biggest question I have about its use is how to get it secured in the exact point to produce the reflection you want without having an extra person to hold the reflector.

I haven't tried to do anything with it yet, but I have a shoot scheduled tomorrow. If weather cooperates, I'll post some results.

Paul
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Old Feb 1, 2009, 10:20 AM   #7
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There's tripods, light stands etc. As you can see from mine, there's a loop that you can use to hang the reflector off of something. I've generally either held it or propped it up on something since I'm unlikely to carry extra equipment.
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