We are surrounded by light all the time, whether it’s light from your home, light from the sun or light from the moon. If we can see anything, there is light. It’s probably no wonder that because the light is always there, we don’t give it much attention. On a day to day basis, we aren’t thinking about how the light is making things look, how the color of light changes and what different reflective surfaces do to create a variety of looks.
As a photographer and as an artist I’ve always had a particular love for light. Maybe it’s because Claude Monet has always been my favorite and he painted light, not shapes. Whatever the reason, I have an infatuation with light, and it works.
Naturally, a light comes from any significant light source – a flash, a lamp, the sun, etc. We expect light from these things and often think of them when we want more light for a photo. There’s another way, though.
Reflective light is not only the cheapest light but often gives you the effects you’re looking for. It’s usually softer, it can add color depending on the reflective surface’s color, and it’s not hard to make.
The video below shows an example of a flat set up with two different reflective surfaces added to provide more light.
You can see that the white poster board/foam board creates a beautiful soft light on the flat lay setup. By adding white boards around the objects, I can soften the shadows and form a well-balanced composition.
To get even more light using a shiny reflective surface will make the shadows go away. The shiny surface does have to to be at the exact right angle to get the more intense reflection, but this will liven up your images if you want a lot of light. In the video, I used an emergency blanket, but you can get a photographers reflector (that usually comes in multiple colors including black, silver, white and gold) or cover foam board in tin foil.
As you can see from the video, the reflective surfaces need to be perpendicular to the sun or close to. This way the boards can catch the light and reflect it back on to the subject of your photo.
You aren’t just limited to these surfaces or using this on products. The same principle goes out in the field too. Take photos of people or animals and use the surfaces of rocks, sidewalks, houses, or the reflectors you made to get the light you need. Take notice of the color of the reflector you’re using. If there is color in it, that color will also be reflecting, changing the look and feel of your subject.