White balancers and reflectors
Richard Sibley explains how a folding reflector or white balancer can improve your images.
White balancers and reflectors are among the most useful tools photographers can have at their disposal. These lightweight devices fold down into a pouch small enough to carry in your camera bag. To help you get the most from your free gift (26 September 2009 issue), we show you exactly how they can be used
Whether you take portrait images or still-life studies, a reflector is one of the simplest, yet most important, items you can keep in your kitbag.
In the images on the right, the reflector has been placed underneath and to the right of the model. This has reflected the natural sunlight back towards the subject, evening out and softening the shadows to the right of her face to create a more flattering image.
The reflector can be used for all types of photography, though.
Try using it when taking portraits indoors, for instance, to reflect natural window light back onto a subject, or to reflect light from a lamp when capturing a still-life subject.
By holding the white balancer in front of a source of light in a scene, it can be used to set a custom white balance on your camera. For this example I held it towards a bright sky and took a reading. It works equally well when used with tungsten or fluorescent light indoors.
Alternative use: diffuser
The semi-opaque material the white balancer is made from makes it suitable to use as a diffuser. Simply hold it in front of a light source to help soften shadows and even out lighting.
When placed above the sunflower in the example to the left, it has taken away the harsh contrast of the light falling on the subject and left a bright but evenly lit image. Position it around 50cm in front of a tungsten lamp, or even a flashgun, to produce a similarly even result.