November 23, 2017, 05:42:06 PM

Author Topic: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?  (Read 4625 times)

rfdesigner

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Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2017, 07:00:45 AM »
When needing fill light for someone against bright naturally lit background, or to just fill in shadows on someone's face indoors or outdoors, what is the difference between using a reflector vs. a flash as a fill light in terms of lighting quality? When might one work better than the other?

Thanks!




A flash and modifiers are easier to use to deliberately produce effects (colour gels on the flash light if you want different colours for an artistic reason, grids to pick out your subject, soft or hard light as desired etc etc), start with getting the camera settings right for the ambient light, then add flash as desired...  Manual everything is the way to go.

The modifier will get you identical light for subtle fill in when you want to match.  Matching a flash to ambient light rather than creating contrast is harder.

Internally in a building, white painted doors are wonderful, you can open or shut them to change effect and angles of reflected light, and are very common, though do reduce your options on where to place your subject.
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Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2017, 07:00:45 AM »

MintChocs

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Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2017, 08:32:37 AM »
My two pence on this as a non pro.
Reflector
Cheap to buy in different sizes and colours (silver, soft sheen, gold, etc)
White will reflect the colour of light shining on it and as its larger source than naked flash more softer. Easier to white balance.
Works at all shutter speeds.
Downside is you need someone in most cases to hold it or a good stand (in windy conditions can be problematic)
Need to have a good source of light as it reflects so loses some in the process.
Not so easy to control the amount and quality and direction of light.
Indoors you may struggle to shoot at lower ISO if there is not enough light to reflect.

Flash
More expensive depending on what you want.In general more expensive.
In bright light you need more powerful flash equipment to overcome the ambient light.
More control over the light in terms of power, direction, modifying and colouring the light with gels.
No need for assistants to hold the flash unless you want to. However if using stands same problems apply if outdoors with windy conditions.
Requires batteries to be charged as without it ........

SecureGSM

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Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2017, 09:14:38 AM »
This is one solid observation. Thank you!  :'(


 

My two pence on this as a non pro...

Flash
 
Requires batteries to be charged as without it ........

CanonFanBoy

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Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2017, 12:33:06 PM »
Reflector can not create any new light, but only redirects to fill the shadows. The effect is usually subtle, and quite satisfactory in headshots portraits. It's nothing practical with wide-angle lenses.

Flash is actually adding light, which can be adjusted with great freedom if the flash is off the camera. The use of accessories such as diffuser and flash hitter makes its use extremely versatile.

Built-in flash is always there (in full frame cameras), and you can save an "unplanned" photo. However, in portrait shots it creates harsh shadows.

AS far as I know, no current Canon FF camera has built in flash.
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Talys

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Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2017, 01:00:47 PM »
Flash can, assuming you know how to use it and have appropriate modifiers and opportunity, do everything a reflector can, while a reflector can't do everything flash can.

That isn't quite true.  Of course, you can fill with a flash, but the results will usually be different from a reflector.

Because flashes are a tiny light source (couple of inches), they give you very specular light when it's close to the subject (where it's bright in the center and quickly falls off to darkness), whereas a reflector, being much larger (dozens of inches), will more evenly reflect the light.  Because of the reflector material, the reflector will also provide more diffuse light.

Generally, to approximate the same result, you'll need some kind of light modifier, like a softbox or umbrella.

Another advantage of a reflector when all of your light sources are constant (eg the sun), what you see is what you get -- there's no guesswork.

Pookie

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Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2017, 01:48:14 PM »
Neither are exclusive... and are often used together. It all depends on your desired results...


Flash alone...


Reflector alone...




Both, and this is often my personal choice...
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awinphoto

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Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2017, 01:48:31 PM »
As a working pro, my go to in outdoor portraits is a flash...  Strobe ideally but flash if not.  Here's my methodology...  If using a reflector, you can use a white reflector, but you must have it close in proximity to see any sizeable difference, which eliminates wide angle or scenic shots but good for head shots.  For any full body shots, you almost need to use the silver or gold reflectors and the distance they would be from the subject and intensity of light is very unsettling and uncomfortable for the subject leading to squinting and tears... Even the bouncing reflector technique (moving the reflector off of subject and bounce it onto subject, take the shot and get it off, or even closing your eyes, open, snap, close...It just doesn't work and isn't flattering).  If you have large diffuser screens and add reflectors around the diffusers, as in a sports illustrated swimsuit shot, they are a full set up situation with multiple assistants and preplanned. 

Flash allows me to skirt around all these issues...  Of course, ETTL will never work for outdoor photos...  You must shoot manual, ideally full power if your flash is more than 10 feet away, unless you are shooting 2.8 or faster.  Also, for shoe mount flashes, you can go to almost any camera shop that's worth their weight and ask for a filter sample pack (tiffen and some of the bigger filter manufacturers have them) and these sample packs are cut almost perfectly for your flash, so if you want a sun gel, effect filter, et al, a little bit of tape to secure and they work wonders, and many of the time these sample packs are free, so even better.  As far as strobes, there are low cost filter packs that can be clipped to flashes for effect/sunsets...  so for me they give me the most amount of customization and intensity of fill, or if needed overpowering the sun, it's the most comfortable for the client, and in many situations, i dont need an assistant, whereas you usually need one for a reflector. 
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Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2017, 01:48:31 PM »

awinphoto

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Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2017, 01:56:13 PM »
Reflector can not create any new light, but only redirects to fill the shadows. The effect is usually subtle, and quite satisfactory in headshots portraits. It's nothing practical with wide-angle lenses.

Flash is actually adding light, which can be adjusted with great freedom if the flash is off the camera. The use of accessories such as diffuser and flash hitter makes its use extremely versatile.

Built-in flash is always there (in full frame cameras), and you can save an "unplanned" photo. However, in portrait shots it creates harsh shadows.

AS far as I know, no current Canon FF camera has built in flash.

Correct...  Plus, built in flash wont work with the way ETTL is set up... if the scene is natually exposed well, the camera will dial down the built in flash (or ettl flash) minimizing the effect because the system will think the scene is properly exposed anyways.  There's flash compensation, but that can be finicky and depending on the scene may not work as intended.  Manual flash is the most ideal in my opinion.. you do have to play with the light ratios, but that's easy to change.
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canonflashgeek

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Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2017, 06:44:25 AM »
When needing fill light for someone against bright naturally lit background, or to just fill in shadows on someone's face indoors or outdoors, what is the difference between using a reflector vs. a flash as a fill light in terms of lighting quality? When might one work better than the other?

Thanks!

I am using Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash for my SLR camera. I think flash is the perfect option for more lighting. It has 20% faster recycling time and one-touch quick-Lock for attaching to the camera.

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Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2017, 06:44:25 AM »