Reflectors are probably after the camera and lens the most frequently used tool by any professional photographer, and yet only a small percentage of amateurs carry them.
They are used in all situations as flower, people, wedding, animal photography, plus a host of others.
Under the banner of reflectors we must include white, black, translucid and coloured mainly gold or silver. Normally sold in a kit these may consist of three pieces one with a white side and black on the reverse, one with a silver side with gold on the reverse and one translucid, they are available in several different sizes, beware of ones bigger than 80 or 90cms as in the wind they are very difficult to keep in position.
This type of reflector is very compact and when its bag is opened springs into something at least twice its size, then by twisting the wrists will fold up again to be put away.
Other reflectors can be made at home out of cardboard or polystyrene,
When working on still life it is useful to have mirrors of different sizes plus silver and gold card.
How to use a reflector.
When any subject has a dark area that you would like to lighten its normally better to bring a reflector in, than use a fill in flash.
Take the example of photographing a flower in bright sunlight from the left side, its possible that the right side is in dark shadow, well by bringing in a reflector you will bounce light back onto the right side therefore softening the shadow, the intensity of the light will depend on the distance from the subject and the angle of the reflector.
By using the gold or silver reflectors you can add colour and brightness to the image, You may decide that you want the flower to be in a diffused light while leaving the background in the sun this is where the translucid one comes in by holding it between the sun and the flower. The black side will have the reverse effect than the white one, by cutting down the light reflected back from a white wall next to a flower, for example. Any one of the reflectors can be used to create effects on the background or subject, for example shadows and coloured areas.
Well here I have taken the example of a flower but there are many uses particularly when photographing portraits one can flatten the light a little to avoid those unwanted wrinkles or improve the shadows so often seen under noses.
The important thing to know is where to hold it, believe me once you get one ,it will become very clear very quickly.