Manipulating Light

The key to any good photo is based on the proper lighting conditions. Achieving this can be easier said than done, especially if you rely on your natural environment as the only source of light. Fortunately, there are tools and techniques a photographer can use to help manipulate light.





Reflectors work just as their name implies, they reflect light. Cheaper than lighting kits and much more adaptive, reflectors can be used to focus light to where it is needed the most. Most reflectors also come with different colored surfaces to give an added hue to a subject, and a diffuser surface to soften harsh light.

The following photo was taken outside on a sunny day. Notice how the light is coming in from behind the subject and leaves his face in a shadow.


We then used reflectors to bounce the light back onto his face to even out the surface lighting.


Reflectors are great for directing the light where your need it; however, they do require extra people to hold them in place while you are shooting.

Studio Lighting:


If you are shooting indoors and there are no light sources that you can use a reflector with, such as a window, then studio lighting is the preferred choice.

While good studio lighting is generally more expensive than using reflectors, they can provide light in dark environments and you don’t need an assistant to hold them in place.


-Glenn Hiller

photo sources:

The Phoblographer’s Introduction to Collapsible Photo Reflectors

(portraits by GH)


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