The Trouble with Tin Foil

Last week we gave a short information session at our club BBQ on the use of reflectors in natural light settings. We talked about the different colors of reflectors and experimented with using them in different positions to cast light on our model. (Thanks for being our model Li!) We talked about sizes, and prices and where to get them.  We also talked a bit about making your own reflector.

In the past, I’ve used a sheet of foam core, Bristol board and even, in a pinch, an 81/2 X 11 sheet of white paper as a reflector. They all did the trick, as I said, ‘in a pinch,’  and some very nice photos were the result. However, in my humble opinion, it’s definitely easier to use the ‘right’ equipment.  Foam core is really awkward in the wind, as is paper, which blows away at the slightest breeze. If you’re going to use either, don’t forget the duct tape to strap those reflectors down.

I’ve often seen it suggested that tin foil can added to the foam core or Bristol board to produce a higher level of reflection.  While this is true, the trouble with tin foil is that it is very difficult to attach and keep it smooth.  The more it wrinkles, the more the light bounces off of it at wild angles.  Wild angles can cause uneven lighting on your subject.  Not always but sometimes. For years I used tin foil on foam core in my product photography. Then I broke down and bought a few reflectors. To the newly initiated, it may be hard to tell the difference that good quality gear makes.  To me, my products, which had been photographed in ‘bad light’ for almost a decade looked instantly better.

So, my advice on this Mid Week gear alert, is that if you can, invest in a folding reflector for your kit. They are lightweight, portable and do a beautiful job of adding a little light to those shadowy areas.  Example: You want a picture of your grandchild in the field. The sun is beautiful behind them, and makes their hair simply glow. YOU can see their face, but when you take the photo, the face is very dark.  Correct this problem by holding the reflector in front of your subject and moving it around until you see the light it is reflecting from the sun, shine right into that little child’s face. Watch that little face light up. Now take the picture and see the difference that a little properly reflected light makes!

I dropped into Imagetech today, and guess what Gregg was unpacking?   Reflectors!  Beautiful Lastolite reflectors. These are especially awesome because they have a handle and are really easy to maneuver.  Round reflectors are also in stock in various sizes and colors, starting at $24.99.  Imagetrekker members – ask Gregg about the club member discount!

‘Til next week … keep shooting. Photographers rule the world!