Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Uber-Easy Homemade Photographic Reflector

So in my quest to improve my blogging, I've decided it would help if I improved my photography. And you can't imagine the resources there are out there. I've been poring over websites, blogs, forums and books and have learned some amazingly simple tricks that can improve anybody's photography, regardless of whether or not you have the new Nikon D90. (But it's still on my wish list!)

One tip I recently learned from Digital Photography School dot com
is how effective a reflector can be when doing portrait photography. If a subject is standing under open shade or out in the open on a cloudy day, having a reflector behind the camera can really do wonders. At DPS I learned that one can make a reflector out of white foam board and have someone stand behind and to the side of the camera to reflect a gentle light onto the subject.

Now, if you think that's easy, listen to the newest tip I learned. When reading one woman's blog post about how to photograph newborns, she says that she always wears a white t-shirt and becomes her own reflector! How simple is that! Actually, I couldn't believe it was so simple, so I tried it. Here's what I did...

Take a look at this "before" photo of my daughter standing outside on a cloudy day in California...


(Sorry about the slight camera-shake. I think one of the 2-year-old twins bumped me while I was taking this shot.)

This is a lovely photo, but there are light shadows cast under her cheeks and nose. Now, look what happens when I have two of my sons, who just happen to be wearing their white button-down church shirts, stand on either side of me...


Do you see how there is more gentle light more evenly dispersed on her face? I was truly amazed that this really worked!

Another benefit of having a simply-made reflector is that the catch lighting in the eye improves, you know, those little spots of light that make a subject look alive! The difference is subtle, but if you look at her eyes in both portraits, you'll see that the catch lights are more pronounced in the one taken with the "reflectors".

So what do you think? Have you ever tried this or something like it? I'd love to hear about it. Thanks for listening.

This post is a contribution by Jen at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven.


  1. wonderful! And a beautiful subject too.

  2. This is the coolest tip! I need to go on that website and learn more. The greatest photography tip I was ever given is to turn your flash off. Your daughter is so pretty :)

  3. That's a great tip! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sarah, I totally agree with you about the flash. I NEVER use the flash...EVER!

  5. What a great tip. I never would have thought of that but now that you mention it, I'm thinking "DUH"! Funny how obvious some ideas are AFTER you hear them! lol

    BTW-great photo and Sarah's right, your daughter's very pretty!!!

  6. I love that website! It's been forever since I've been on it, I need to go back and check it out again. I had no idea a t-shirt could make such a difference!

  7. I learned in a couple of classes that I took to always wear a white shirt when taking pictures for that reason. I also like using a piece of white foam core board. Works great! Or a cheap car sun shield will also work.

  8. I need to research more because I had no idea! I'm going to try this. Thanks!


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