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Outdoor Portrait with Reflector


The woman in the photo above is a very well known Swedish singer, Louise Hoffsten, and she is collaborating with a writer and an illustrator to create a children’s book with a soundtrack (on a CD).

I usually don’t take pictures of celebrities, they might be well known in their field, but not in general. So this was new to me, a little bit exciting as well. Would she be nice, or a diva?

It turned out fine, she was very nice and liked having her picture taken. We started in my photo studio for some simple headshots and later moved outside for some outdoor portraits. And with the grey weather and overcast sky, a Chimera reflector panel with silver fabric was the key to getting good looking portraits without dark eye sockets.


This was what my equipment looked like this day. A light stand and a medium sized Chimera panel with silver fabric. And some kind of Manfrotto-grip that makes it easy to adjust the position and angle of the panel on the light stand. It is very easy, and very light.


For the portraits above, I placed the reflector just outside the frame, angled so it bounced some of the light from the grey sky back up into her face and especially her eyes. Had it been a sunny day, I would rather have used a white reflector or something in between. Silver is very reflective of course, so it can bounce very harsh light.

outdoor-portrait-overcast-skyI don’t have any examples here without the reflector, but can just say that without it, her face would have looked a lot darker. Darker shadows everywhere and the eye sockets would have looked very dark and deep. Might work fine if she would have been singing in a metal band, but she isn’t.

The smaller portrait to the right is lit from her side with the reflector standing upright and bouncing back side light into the shadow part of her face, camera left.

You can of course achieve similar results with a smaller reflector, handheld or on a stand, but a like this large and flat surface. The Chimera panels are my new favourites in many aspects, either for diffusion, or flagging or reflecting. They are light, easy to fold and very rigid. The only problem, as with most things that are lightweight and have a large area, they turn into sails very easily.

snoddOne way of making the light stand a little bit more grounded is to attach your camera bag to it. I always have a couple of bungee cords (or similar) in the bag.

This kind of cord on the picture is found on most sail boats, and I think they are even better than the cords with balls on the ends. You can tighten it however you want and they are very flexible. And takes up minimal space in your bag.

Ok, an assistant would be even better, but this works too.

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