Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Few Common Reflection Workarounds

Full-length Shots on White

Creating full-length shots on pure white can be problematic. It can be difficult to keep the floor as bright as the vertical portion of the backdrop unless you "wash" the floor with additional lighting either from below or above. This is not always a viable solution. A very effective workaround is to place a smooth, highly reflective sheet below the subject. The floor then acts as a mirror in which the lighted background is reflected. Direct reflection saves the day.


Portrait photographers often have to grapple with reflections in eyeglasses. Assuming that you are using a typical portrait-lighting setup with main/fill sources somewhat above face level, you typically have three options: raising the eyeglass arms, raising the offending light source, or repositioning the subject. Raising the eyeglass arms slightly at the ear will cause the eyeglass lenses to tilt downward. A small adjustment may be all you will need, and most viewers will not detect that the earpieces have been raised. Alternately, you may choose to raise your main or fill light sources until the reflection disappears. If adjusting the glasses or moving the lighting fails to solve the problem, consider repositioning the subject. For instance, using broad lighting with a 2/3 facial view, as shown in the image below, the main-light reflection will be directed away from camera view.

On-site Speculars

If you've shot a lot of on-site images with on-camera flash, you've undoubtedly encountered the "ugly blob of light." Reflective surfaces, especially those nearly parallel to the sensor plane can kick back an extremely bright and ugly direct reflection of your flash. To avoid this common problem, you may need to shoot from a different angle or temporarily remove certain reflective objects from the scene. Scan the shooting area for mirrors, reflective clock faces, pictures with and without protective glass, and sundry other reflective items. If you are shooting table shots at a wedding reception, for instance, position yourself so that you are not square to mirrored walls, windows, or glass doors behind the subjects. If you are doing shots in the home, be on the lookout for framed pictures and mirrors. If you are shooting in a business, note the positions of the computer monitors and personal items such as framed pictures and reposition things as needed.

I'm not sure what I'll tackle next, but suggestions are always welcome.

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