Reflectors and Fill Cards

I love experimenting with light and shadows. And this is one such experiment. The experiment is very simple: What would happen it the same subject was shot under the same light conditions using no card/reflector, a silver reflector, a white card, and a black card. You might be surprised with the results. Lets take a look.


The image above of the new bike frame was shot under day light conditions with light coming into the room from a very large (south facing) window just behind the camera and slightly to the right. This was shot on an overcast day in late afternoon so the light was very soft. There is no reflector to the left of the bike frame.


This shot has a silver reflector to the left of the bike frame, just out of frame. The round 74cm silver reflector is just a few inches away from the subject. Notice how the Specialized “S” logo is much cooler looking because of the silver reflector is being reflected by the bike frame itself.


In this shot I used a 20″ X 30″ sheet of white foam board in the same position as the silver reflector. Notice how the shadow on the left seems to look washed out because of the reflection of the white card on bike frame. This clearly shows that white cards and silver reflectors have different fill light properties.


And finally, here I used a 20″ X 30″ sheet of black foam board. Notice how dark the shadows look. The Specialized “S” logo almost fades to black. The black card makes the shadow very dramatic.

What have we learned? Silver, white and black reflectors/cards have very different reflective properties and can be used to achieve very specific looks. This is just a very basic look at reflectors and fill cards and experimentation is key. Grab an object (or even a person) and try to get different looks using different color reflectors and cards. In this experiment I only used silver, white and black. Try it with gold, or even better colored reflectors/cards. You’re bound to get a very interesting shot.

Which of the images above do you like best?

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4 Responses to "Reflectors and Fill Cards"

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