It is no secret that photographers are geniuses when dealing with difficult lighting situations. In fact, we are so good at making great photos out of strange light or brilliant light that people often assume we just used Photoshop. That’s not the case with the majority of purist photographers, though.
However, there are certain lighting situations that make photographers want to pull their hair out. The moments of dealing with annoying shadows in the frame or on our subjects are some of the most frustrating moments of a photographer’s life. But, there is one simple photography trick to remove shadows from your subject…
The simple photography trick to remove shadows from you photographs is to use a reflector. Reflectors are cheap, easy to use, easy to carry, and will absolutely save some crucial photographs from complete disaster.
This reflector in particular is a very good deal because it is collapsible, it unfolds to create a large reflector, it’s cheap ($15), and it has a variety of colors for any lighting situation you may be in. You may use the white reflector 90% of the time, but when you get into a situation that is during the golden hour, you can use the gold reflector so you can shoot for the predominate light.
So, what if you don’t have a reflector or you don’t want to get one? In that case a photography trick to remove shadows would be to use a standard white poster board. I’ve actually seen a lot of portrait photographers use this on a budget and it works almost as well as a reflector. The only downside to poster board is that it’s bulky and can get ruined easily.
Reflectors for Portraits
Portrait photography is easily the photography field that’s most in need for reflectors. There are constantly times during shoot when a weird branch shadow gets in the face of your subject or you just need them to stand out from a background.
To remove unwanted shadows that are on your subject, simple angle the reflector toward them so that you are reflecting the sun’s light on their face and body. It will remove unwanted shadows and reflect nice, natural light onto your subject so you don’t have to use a flash or carry around awkward, heavy flash equipment.
You may think that you need an assistant to help you hold the reflector, but that’s not always the case!
A simple setup to use a reflector without an assistant is to have your subject sit on a ledge or some steps and ask them to hold the reflector in their lap at a 45 degree angle. You don’t include the reflector in the photo. Frame the shot just above the reflector for the best lighting and framing. Just think about how someone sits while they’re reading a newspaper and copy that position! Boom. Perfect lighting!
Reflectors for Landscapes
You almost never hear about using reflectors for landscape photography, but I’m here to tell you that you can, and it is very beneficial! Landscape photographers always deal with unwanted shadows or lack of natural light in their foreground elements. Reflectors are perfect for that.
Much like the process for portrait photos, all you have to do is angle your reflector to reflect the sun’s natural light onto your foreground and it will eliminate any unwanted shadows you might have in the frame. Now, I will say that the reflector won’t take away a shadow on a mountain that’s 500 feet away. This trick is just for smaller areas that are closer to your camera. That’s why this trick is perfect for foregrounds.
Next time you go shoot, take your reflector and play around with it to see what it’s capable of. Even if you shoot landscapes and you don’t think it will do much, trust me and try it out.
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