Amid all the talk of second screens and mobile devices, one simple joy is easily passed – a handy light source. Now all we need to do is trade our touch screens for reflector techniques and we can entertain dogs, cats and dragons for hours. Seriously, there are tips that you can take to your production set. But before you can make use of the following tips you must be able to control your reflector. Be sure you get a feel for the angle at which your light source is strongest since your reflection will be a weaker version (less so if you've got a highly reflective surface like a mirror). We start with a Photoflex MultiDisc 5-in-1 reflector, they're a great investment for a production kit. To test your light-reflecting ability, find a shadowy area, and point your reflective surface there, virtually anything will do, if you've found a willing volunteer, he or she can tell you when the light is striking his or her eyes. Then think of yourself as a Bat-Signal, by pivoting (tilting and/or panning) the reflector from a fixed point and aim your light where your director calls for it.
1. Remove shadow from the talent's eyes, blind a friend, but be nice about it and don't shine the light in his or her eyes until the camera is rolling. Then when the camera stops, drop the light. Getting this fill light is especially helpful for eliminating harsh shadows on the face and can allow you to capture people with hats, caps and anything that casts a shadow on your subject.
2. Diffuse a light, remove the reflective surface so that a thin translucent fabric is all that stands between the light source and your subject. This can clean up the shadows from an LED light, and give you an overall softer light. This also makes it much easier for people to look into since the sharp brightness has been reduced.
3. Match daylight by using the silver side, this will keep your reflected light closer to 5600K. You will need less color correcting in post-production the more you can match your lights.
4. Match incandescent lights for a good glow. Reflectors tend to have large surfaces and that is a head start on diffusing light, so if you want a gentle light, consider also moving back and forth in a straight line with the subject, your reflected light will drop off vary quickly, but also get more intense as you get closer, all in following the inverse square law.
5. Reduce glare and block heat by covering your camera operator. For the times when no reflector is needed, a reflector doubles as a substantial viewing hood. Getting assigned the reflector can be most rewarding on sunny days, especially if you're the one giving the talent a few moments out of the sun.
Bonus: Mirrors do a great job of reflecting light, so much that the light's intensity is nearly the same. You might find very few uses in the classic three point lighting setup, but if you want a second light source that creates a clearly defined shape of light – a handheld mirror can work wonders.
Perhaps not the most exciting tips, but easy and very quantifiable. A 5-in-1 reflector is one of our first solutions when we get outdoors, of course if you don't have an extra body to operate one, a light stand with an arm and clips can do in a pinch. Did we mention that this is wireless and energy efficient? There is something very practical about using a readily available reflective surface that can make your production much better. The hardest part of the job you ask? Folding up a reflector is about as complicated as folding a map, not everyone can do it.