30 : Reflective Light

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As photographers, we are always looking for the way light shapes our subjects. This week we explore how light enters and reflects onto a scene. Reflectors are all around us. These may be in the form of water, walls, bed covers, curtains, tabletops and paper. Reflectors can be big or small. A big area like a wall will light up your whole subject, while the pages of a book can provide beautiful illumination on the face. 

To capture reflecting light you are required to "see" your scene and observe the effect of light on your subject. Don't be discouraged if you struggle at first -- this can be both a technical and creative challenge! The closer your subject is to the reflector the brighter she will be illuminated. For example, the face of a child laying on his tummy on a sidewalk will be brighter than if the child were standing up with her face several feet away from the sidewalk. Note: Reflectors that are colored, like a warm wooden floor, will cast that color onto your subject.

Inside

  • When streaming sunlight bounces around a room it can provide dramatic results. Think of where you find beautiful light in your own home. Illumination from lamps can also work in smaller settings and close-ups.

Outside

  • Big bright walls, sidewalks, white gravel paths and snow are common reflectors. Even when it is overcast outside they bounce some light. 

Settings

  • As you shoot, adjust your camera settings so that the face of your subject is correctly exposed. This may result in strong highlights or dark shadows in other parts of your scene. That's ok!

If you are feeling inspired to explore reflectivity in a technical exercise, use a standard collapsible reflector (or big piece of white cardboard!) to see how reflected light changes your exposure settings and the tone of your images.

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Creative Prompts

This week, practice observing and capturing light. We will begin working with camera settings next week, now that everyone is in the habit of using their camera regularly. 

  • SMALL: Capture light that is reflecting only onto the face of your subject from a book, tabletop, or other small source.
  • LARGE: Capture light reflecting onto a whole subject from a large source. Play around with different angles for both the camera and the subject(s). 

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Share your images!

As always, we look forward to seeing your images in the Facebook group! If you have never posted a picture, it's fine to start any time. The Facebook group is a positive, no-judgement zone. We also hope that reach out for advice or help if you need it!