How to use a Silver Light Reflector?
Silver light Reflectors are great for outdoor or indoor shots where the photographer requires a second light but may not have the space or the equipment to create a strong contrast within an image.
What does it do?
Silver reflectors have the ability to bounce or reflect light in any direction you like but only if it has a source of light to bounce. It often acts as a secondary light because it does not produce light of its own.
The Silver reflector bounces the most light back onto your subject than any other light reflector surface.
Its shiny surface can bounce that light at nearly the same intensity of the main source of light much more than a white reflector.
This can be good and bad. Good because you have an intense light source bad because it can be too strong and contrasty.
The silver reflector also does not change the color temperature of the light like the gold reflector and is a favorite and low-cost tool of outdoor and studio portrait photographers.
When to use a Silver Reflector?
The most popular time to use a silver reflector is outdoors during bright sunlight outdoors. This could be anywhere between 10 am to 4 pm.
The reason its so effective during this time is because the silver side of a reflector offers a strong contrast in your image that bodes well for strong sunlit subjects.
Let’s consider a portrait session at about mid-morning to early evening. This is often when the sun is at its most intense and great for beach shots of colorful bikini clad models, sports photography and even fashion photos.
The intense sun is reflected to not only reduce the harsh sun shadows but to and additional light to your subject either as a rim light or to create an intense flat light image.
Silver reflectors are also used in product and food photography. In product photography it reflects the most light and can seem to be a secondary light in the end image.
In food photography it is also used to reduce shadows but add a bit of edgy light to the photo.
So that light, bright airy photo you love of your favorite snack was probably taken with a large soft box initially but also with a silver light reflector.
How to use a Silver Reflector?
Using a silver reflector is almost no different from any other surface except that the light is very intense and must be controlled.
If you were to compare the light bounced from a white surface vs the silver surface, you will notice the intensity of the silver reflector is more than the white.
Keeping this in mind when photographing people or pets you must be careful not to overpower their eyes with this intense light. It can be uncomfortable and in very strong sunlight can damage a person’s vision.
Distance = Intensity
The best way to use a silver reflector is to stand further away from your subject. The distance of the reflector to your subject will also reduce the intensity of the reflected light.
The key to all reflectors as with the silver one is to be on the opposite side of the main light. This is the optimal location.
So for example, if you are using the sun as a main light but you don’t want your subject to squint their eyes in the sunlight you turn their back to the sun and use a reflector to bounce light back into their face or body.
Another way to use the silver is to feather it. Feathering means to be on the edge of the main light that is being reflected.
A good example for feathering is to consider the 45 degree light. If your main light is hitting your subject at a 45 degree angle then by placing the reflector almost at the opposite 45 to 60 degree angle will reflect about half of the light because only a portion of the main light will hit the reflector.
Which Silver Reflector should I buy?
Asking which to buy does not mean there are different intensities of silver reflectors but more on which size and shape may suit you best.
A larger reflector may be better if you need to fill in the shadows of your subject full body.
Whereas a smaller light reflector is more portable and easier to use by your self. larger reflectors can sometimes require a helper.
A different shape will also help in many ways. A rectangular shape reflector is usually used for full body portraits although it can work for head shots as well.
An oval reflector can also be used for full body, but it can be manipulated to concentrate the reflected light onto your subject. This is often the most commonly way an oval reflector would be used.
The triangle reflector has been growing in popularity as it is smaller and easier for a photographer to shoot and hold at the same time.
Trying to find out which reflector you should buy is not particularly the question you should ask.
Instead ask yourself what will I use the reflector for? This will give you an idea of which size and shape would best suit you.
Uses of a Silver Light Reflector
The noted Silver light reflector, what would you use it for? It’s so bright so shiny sooo Silver. Well that’s the point a shiny surface that will bounce or reflect as much light as possible. The silver reflector can completely light up you subject whether its a person or still life.
Shooting mid-day is or early evening, is a time that many photographers tend to avoid because the lighting is so harsh. However the color rendition at this time of day is vibrant and rich.
We are often told when shooting outdoors to place your subjects back to the sun which will render a heavy shadow on their face and the point of your focus. Well using a silver reflector is one way you can light you subject. By placing the reflector opposite your subject ie.
The Sun, Your Subject, The reflector and then you, you bounce that powerful sun light right back into the shadow side of your subject which is you point of focus and work your magic.
You want to photograph a still subject lets say a bowl of fruit. You only have one light. If you place the light directly in front of your subject you get a flat image, so you place it off to one side for more of a modeling affect. Y
ou get your affect but now you have more shadows on one side than the other what can you do. Well here is were the silver reflector can help.
It bounces more light than a plain white reflector (foam core etc) and it looks more like a second light. Simply place the reflector opposite you light and adjust it until you get that shadow nicely filled.
The uses can be limitless if you have the imagination for it, just keep in mind the silver reflector will bounce more light than a whit reflector and will give your subject that cool look rather than a warmer tone like the gold reflector
Make your own Silver Light Reflector
In the long run
In the long run you will find that its better to use your silver reflector rather than a flash. Or in some cases you may want to use the reflector along with your flash for a more softer look.
Well you will have to consider durability and material build to ensure your reflector last the test of time.
A common issue with reflectors is that they tend to loose their reflectivity over time.
A silver reflector that originally may have provided a full stop of light in a shadow area, after a year less in touch conditions, will be reduced drastically in the same lighting situation.
The best thing to do is to bite the bullet and go for the best reflector you can buy. It will save you money in the long run.
Reflectors remind me of tripods in the same way that its best to get a good one up front and save yourself the headache of a cheaper product breaking or in this case not reflecting when you most need it to.
Ive found that the sunbounce reflectors are not only easy to use and durable but they maintain their reflectivity far longer than the average reflectors on the market.