Sunday, January 18, 2009

Window light with reflector and subtractor


Settings: giant window to the right, large black subtractor panel on the left to absorb the light and darken the shadows.

While I was in England, I went to this great specialty shop, Viewfinder Photography. They have all sorts of equipment custom made just for them. My favorite is this great collapsible reflector panel, it has 2 pieces of fabric. One is black on one side, the other side white. The second is silver on one side, and gold on the other. Each corner has a grommet, and it uses steel poles to hold it tight, and mounts onto a light stand. Nothing else like this mounts so easily and collapses so small. It comes in 3 sizes too, but I have the smallest, 1x1.2 meters.

It's extremely versatile. You can use the black or white as backdrops, like I did here:

Settings: Ambient is underexposed by 4 or more stops. Flashes are 3-4 stops above neutral grey, into large 110cm umbrellas on either side of the subject, slightly behind and above, but aiming forward. Large gold 1x1.2 meter reflector in the front, bouncing the light back onto the front of the face.

or you can use them as a reflector or subtractor. For the first photo in this post, I used the black side to subtract light from the shadows. Without the black subtractor, the light from the window could bounce around the mostly white kitchen and fill in the shadows. With a big black sheet right on the other side, no light can bounce, so it darkens the shadows a lot.

Conversely, you can use the white side to fill the shadows a lot, like this:


Settings: giant window to the right, large white reflector panel on the left to reflect the light and lighten the shadows.

One trick I want to try, is to place the gold sheet on the ground, and aim one of my flashes at it. That way I'll have a nice warm, golden fill light coming from below, and I can use my main flash and light mod as the main light, and still have the white/black panel to use as a background or a reflector/subtractor.

The best part about this light modifier, is the price. Only 30 pounds for the small size I got. That's about 45 USD.


  1. thanks for the tip, it looks like a great kit addition

  2. The right link for the panels is now this: