To bounce or not to bounce

“Bouncing” light is simply the use of a reflector on the shadow side of your subject. While I own multiple professional reflectors, I honestly use plain old white foam core more than anything else. It’s cheap, lightweight and doesn’t cast a color on my subject like gold and silver reflectors do. I dig it.

So when should you use a reflector? When you want to lighten your shadows or create a more evenly lit subject. For example, if you have a single light source and it’s coming from the side, half of your subject will be bright and half will be dark. If you are going for a more dramatic and moody shot, then you may choose to leave the dark side as is, perhaps even deepening the shadows by using a black board where you would hold a reflector. But if you want a light, airy feeling to your image, you would want to use a reflector. By holding a white board up on the shadow side of your subject, your light will hit the board and “bounce” back on to the dark areas, in effect lightening them.

Without bounce:

With bounce:

Several years ago I shot a breakfast cookbook and, because the photos in the book were meant to feel like they were taken in the morning, I used reflectors constantly. It just made sense. However, when I shoot work for myself, I tend to prefer a more dramatic look (I love me some shadows) and so I usually avoid using a reflector. It's all about your personal preference. :)

*Surfaces used here: Clay for the tabletop and Luna for the vertical background. 

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