One of the biggest frustrations bloggers and photographers face is lighting. It can be tricky to get the subject of a photograph to look radiant, have their colors stand out and shine, and illuminate details effortlessly in front of a camera’s lens. Luckily, I have a fabulous quick, free trick to brighter photos – all you have to do is build a simple light reflector!
I know you’re thinking… wait! You said this was free…. but I have to BUILD something?
Luckily, about 90% of people will already have all the materials you’ll need in your home- as all you really need is foil (or some kind of shiny, silver or gold material) and something to hold it on.
Need to illuminate a big room that doesn’t get a whole lot of light? Need to photograph something that you can’t put directly next to a window? Need to stand facing the item and the window, not take a photo standing next to the window, with the product facing you (which is ideal to get great light?) No problem!
Here’s a photo I recently took in my daughter’s nursery of a little vase I hand painted and a quick silk bouquet I placed in it. This sits on her dresser, which is right up next to a window. When I try to photograph it, the bouquet always turns out dark, and the background impossibly bright (because it is brighter outside than in her room.)
You can’t see many of the details I painted on the vase, the flowers are dull looking, and its so dark!
I then grabbed a few things from my kitchen to make the shot better:
A plain old baking sheet and some tinfoil. I draped the tinfoil over the baking sheet, and taped it onto the back so I could use the baking sheet as a light reflector! (You can use a cardboard box, tape it onto a chair, furniture, hang from the ceiling- anything that allows you to control tinfoil and place it at the angle you like best.)
I held the baking sheet, tinfoil pointed at the window, in between the vase and I (yes, it is a bit awkward to hold a reflector and take a picture, but it is SO worth contorting your body a bit!) I moved it up and down and tried different angles until I thought the bouquet and vase looked the best. And the results speak for themselves!
You can use this trick in all sorts of situations. I have actually hung tinfoil from the ceiling as a few long strips that I joined together to make a wall-sized reflector to get pictures in my living room. I’ve also made teeny tiny reflectors to illuminate just a tiny area to reduce harsh shadows behind a subject. The sky is the limit- and you can easily re-roll the foil and use again and again.
If you notice your photos look a bit too blue when using foil, you can get some gold-toned foil. Or you can paint a slight glaze of a color onto foil if you’d like your subject to take on another hue, too! (HOW COOL IS THAT??)
I find this works the best when you point your reflector at a light (either a light in your room or a window with sun coming in.) This will let you take pictures of a subject without having it pointed towards a light- and is great for taking photos of people with! You can adjust your reflector to highlight features, avoid squinting eyes, and give people a beautiful, soft glow to their skin. If it is hard to hold your reflector and use your camera at the same time, you can prop it up on furniture, or even tape it to something to hold it in place. And since tinfoil is very inexpensive to replace, you don’t have to worry too much about damaging it.
So what do you think? How will you use this easy trick in your own photos?