Laura Tillinghast: Tips for Getting the Most From Your Reflectors

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Where I am based in California, the summer months bring the freedom of shooting outside and I try to work on-location as much I can before the cold weather hits in the fall. When heading to a new or familiar outdoor location, I always bring at least one Photoflex 9-in-1 MultiDisc Reflector with me. Conditions outdoors can be challenging and almost every time I shoot with natural light I am also using a MultiDisc.

One of the main challenges of summer sunlight is that the sun is right overhead for most of the day, creating a too-bright light source for shooting portraits (in the winter the sun arcs across the sky at less overhead angle). With this in mind, the best times of day to shoot during the summer months are the beginning and end of the day.

Often I like to place my subject right at the edge of open shade to take advantage of the even light while allowing more light to spill in from one direction. Another option is to choose dappled shade, as the background can be quite beautiful when shooting wide open (as opposed to a background completely in shade).

In the example below I placed the model, Kelsey, next to a fallen tree trunk and had my assistant hold the inner diffusion disc of my MultiDisc above her to filter any hot spots from the light filtering in from the trees overhead. It's important to note that I do not use a reflector for this, which would create an area of additional shade. The benefit of using a diffusion disc instead is that the light is softened rather than blocked. The resulting image has an even exposure on the face with varying amounts of light in the background.

During the same photo session I spied a tree with leaves that had grown well toward the ground to form a partial canopy around the tree. I knew that inside the canopy of leaves I could get a unique look to the background and have lots of light to bounce around.

The problem with light like this is that once we were inside the canopy, all the light was coming from behind the subject. To solve this issue I had my assistant place a white reflector in front and to one side of the model. In the example below, you can see that the reflector did the trick and bounced enough light into the face to even the exposure out. One of the best benefits to using a reflector this way is the additional catch light in the eyes, which adds some sparkle.

The summer for me is just getting going so I plan to put my MultiDisc Reflectors to constant use. With 8 surfaces and an internal disc, I have the confidence to solve the many lighting challenges that I face as a photographer.

Born and raised on the West Coast, Laura Tillinghast began making art at a young age. She explored many mediums until finally discovering photography when she was 17 years old. From that point on, she knew she had found the tool she was looking for to bring her imagination to life. What makes Laura stand out from others is her willingness to work as hard as it takes to make the best images possible. It's easy to work that hard when you absolutely love what you do. See more of her work at her website:

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