Production: How to Create Your Own Light Reflector

Light reflectors are extremely useful once you get into production. Technically, everything you see is a light reflector since everything in our visual spectrum is reflecting light. However, in order to make something useful for your shoot, you should follow these steps.

Step 1: White

White has no color. So any light that reflects off of a white surface will maintain its original color balance. However, a white surface will alter the quality of light. A direct beam of light casts harsh shadows. However, when the direct beam hits a white surface, the light scatters in different directions and therefore wraps 3-dimensional objects. This is soft light and is the most popular reason to use a reflector. This reflector can be made with anything that is white. A popular material is bead-board. However if you do not have access to any, you can use a piece of card board and glue white paper to it. Use a backing that is relatively stiff in order to keep the material in control.

Step 2: Silver

The most direct way to reflect light is with a mirror. A mirror will not change the quality of light at all. Sometimes the most intense light source you can bring to set is a mirror that reflects the sun. However, this is usually a bit too powerful. A material that is silver will absorb some of the light but still bounce back a good amount of harsh light. To do this use the other side of the reflector you made in step 1. Go find some aluminum foil and paste it to the other side. The smoother that you can get it, the more intense the reflecting power will be. If you do not want this reflector to be ridiculously harsh, you can allow your foil to crinkle a bit.

Step 3: Black

The color black absorbs all light. In the case of the previous reflectors, you were trying to add light to the scene by bouncing it around. However, in some situations you may want to darken a part of the scene using some "negative fill". For this, you can use anything that is black. Fabric will work and so will black card board.

Step 4: Colors

In some cases, the white and silver bounces can look extremely "white" to your eye. This may sound redundant, but the point is that it feels unnatural. So, consider adding some color to the situation. If you want to warm up the light you are bouncing, add a bit of orange to the white bounce. Something very light will work; do not go overboard with the idea. As a substitute for silver, use something gold. Though materials of these colors are not as likely to be hanging around your apartment, you might like the light that they produce.

Light reflectors are easy to make on a super tight budget. Virtually anything can work as long as you make it easy to control.

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