Reflector For Fill Light For Landscapes : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

After reveiwing the responses to my question about using a separate flash unit as a fill light for landscapes, I've determined that I'll be better off if I carry a (lightweight) reflector. I'll be using it as a fill light in the near foreground for backlighted/sidelighted landscapes, for example, wildflowers, shot with a 58 mm or 75 mm lens on 6 cm x 9 cm format. Any recommendations as to particular reflector brands that are very light weight and that people here like? What size? Is circular better than square? As for surfaces, I'm thinking of a white surface on one side (for softer fill) and a combined gold/silver on the other (I don't want the fill to be too warm). Other ideas? I really don't want to carry a stand to hold the reflector, so I guess I'll need to just figure out a way to prop it up in the field. Thanks in advance for your help.

-- Howard Slavitt (, July 16, 2000


Cardboard with aluminum foil, crinkled up and then taped in place, or an automobile shade - the kind that you unfold and palce between windshield & dash to keep the vinyl from sticking to your backside. You used to be able to find reflective wrapping paper in different colors - gold and silver would be of use here. Mylar space blankets take up very little space and can be had cheaply at sporting goods stores.

The flex-a fill I have, gold on one side and white on the other, was a gift. Otherwise I'd be using the cheap stuff. I think it's 40" ? At least 3 feet.

-- Sean yates (, July 16, 2000.

Check out the photoflex website, i can't remember it offhand but they have an assortment of sizes for lightweight reflectors. the other option would be to make your own. if your local fabric store carries "foil covered fabric" then buy plastic pvc tubing with elbows for the frame. this is quite cheap to make and it is collapsable for field use.

-- Dave Anton (, July 16, 2000.

Yes, the Photoflex are nice and fold quite small. I bought a set some years ago with the same intention. But then I found it hard to manage it all and having an assistant to accompany me was a bit beyond my means and philosophy! The circular reflectors are two types: translucent, to soften the direct sunlight on small groups of flowers; or reflective two sides, with choice of white, silver, gold or mixed silver and gold surfaces. A middle size 42" reflector folds in a small 14" package and comes in a nice, strong zipper flat bag. Unfolded, they can be manipulated with one hand if one side lays on the ground or the photo bag (the other hand holds the cable release), thanks to the stiff steel belt. Folding them takes a little bit of a habit but is quickly acquired. Manipulating the reflectors while measuring light and firing the shot takes a little bit of a juggle, especially if there is some wind! Thinking it again, I would certainly look into a pneumatic, long release, to have both hands available.

-- Paul Schilliger (, July 16, 2000.

Howard, I looked and I discovered that I do use a PhotoFlex.

It can be awkward when the wind is blowing, but then I doubt that you'll do much wildflower work at that time, anyway. I've obtained some nice images of blowing flowers, but shadows don't seem to be as much an issue here.

You don't need a bracket or an assistant. I stand to one side of the camera and hold the reflector in one hand. I don't see this as an issue because your wildflowers are likely to be quite close to the camera.

I tried a foil covered cardboard solution, but the homemade stuff didn't work well for me when I hiked away from the car. If you don't tend to go far from your car, that won't be an issue. It's much cheaper!

My reflector is about 36". The area illuminated seems to be about 2/3 of that. I think that is because I deform the surface of the reflector by holding it with one hand. You might consider purchase of the next size up if weight is not a consideration.

I have a gold/siver model. The silver can nearly eliminate shadows, but the gold definitely does not. I have some concern that a white side would reflect insufficient light for fill, unless you were using it to bounce a strong flash. You might consider a post on PDN Online to see what commercial photographers think.

Best wishes, Bruce

-- Bruce M. Herman (, July 16, 2000.

Get a few emergency ("space") blankets. The disposable ones are a devil to control in a wind, but you can get more substantial double layer ones that do the job very well. You can often make use of the tripod legs and tape the reflector across them.

-- Pete Andrews (, July 17, 2000.

A newer twist on the spring-framed reflectors is the Chameleon--a translucent diffuser with a reversible zippered outer cover that includes silver, gold, white and black faces. Offers more versatility for about the same cost.

-- Steve Singleton (, July 18, 2000.

I use a cheap $12.00 a pair truck sunshade. It is built like the photoflex (fabric on wire hoop that can be folded for transport) but is a silver grey material on one side that is not as reflective as the photoflex. Most of these are small double hoops for cars but if you look around you can find the large size (mine are each 30"x36" square) made for large trucks. I mostly use them as a wind shade for flowers in foreground or to sheild the 4x5 in heavy wind but have occasionally used them as a reflector or as a sunshade for outdoor closeups. It has also served to keep rain off camera and lens while I waited for the light to change.

-- Bob Finley (, July 19, 2000.

I was fired up to read all the great answers to your situation. Another possiblity, in the do-it-yourself category, is to purchase the "Photoflex fabric" from a photo warehouse like B&H ( This square fabric is the same used in the disc's but has "corner elastic bands" on the corners to attach to a frame. For a few bucks you can make your own PVC frame to accomodate different sizes for the fabric. A 39" sq. white/gold or white/silver ( I didn't see gold/silver combo.) fabric is $30. Or, a 39"x72" rectangle is $42. You could make your frame to where you could adjust one of the dimensions to, let's say 19"x72" so it's low enough and wide enough in the foreground but still keep out the camera's view if your not doing close-ups. Anyway, you can see that the PVC frames and elastic-cornered fabric can give you many possible size combinations

-- Tony Peckman (, June 12, 2001.

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