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When using a reflector...
Old 01-05-2006, 02:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Quick question. When using a reflector to say lighten up a face, do you take your meter reading before or after you have the reflector placed where you want it? And why?

Thank you. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

Sam
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Re: When using a reflector...
Old 01-05-2006, 03:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Ususally after. If you're using the reflector to "lighten up" the face, then you're adding light which needs to be taken into account when measuring for exposure. Even if the purpose of the reflector is to fill in some shadows your exposure might bump up a third or so.
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Re: When using a reflector...
Old 01-05-2006, 03:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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A reflector is a light source.

You change distance and angle to adjust it. Meter it as a light source or better yet, have an assistant handle it for you while you observe the effect through the viewfinder.

Think of it like this... a mirror is a very high efficiency reflector that will have an 'output' equivelent to the light it's reflecting less the falloff that results from the distance from the lighthead to the mirror plus the distance from the mirror to the subject... there's also some loss from spread... but anyway, the point is, a reflector is a light source.

The biggest differences are in the color of the reflector and consequently the reflected light and, the fact that it's typically more diffuse than the source it's reflecting cuz it's bigger in relation to the subject... assuming it's not actually a mirror or a parabolic or something odd like that.

Usually reflectors have to be close because they aren't as efficient as a mirror, usually they're just outside the frame... but you can use'em anyway you want.

Bad luck on that lens but hey, maybe next shoot.

See ya dude.
Chip
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Re: When using a reflector...
Old 01-05-2006, 04:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
Quick question. When using a reflector to say lighten up a face, do you take your meter reading before or after you have the reflector placed where you want it? And why?

Thank you. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

Sam

[/ QUOTE ]

Yes..

Because it could throw off the overall exposure,....or it may change your light ratio,...perhaps too strongly,...or not strong enough and may have to change the distance, or angle of the reflector..

Yep,...that's about it.. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

JP
 
 
Re: When using a reflector...
Old 01-05-2006, 08:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The above responses are not correct. A reflector, by itself, won't change your basic exposure, it will change your contrast ratios by lightening your shadows. Now, if you bounce an additional light off of said reflector then it most likely will affect your exposure.

If you've got a spot meter that is capable of measuring flash then you can verify my statement. Set up a single light as your main, say at least 45 degrees to your model so that you can get some good shadows to measure. First, take an overall reading using the incident portion of the meter. Next, use the spot portion of the meter to measure and record your subject's highlights, mid-tones, and shadows.

Now, add a reflector to your lighting solution. Use a mirror if you like and place it as close to your subject as you like. Again, take an overall reading followed by a series of readings on the highlights, midtones, and shadows. You will see an exposure change in your shadows, but you won't see anything that your meter will measure in your highlights and midtones. You'll just have more mid-tones. Your overall exposure will remain the same, but you will have less contrast in your image due to the lightened shadows.

It is impossible to achieve a 1:1 lighting ratio with a single light source and reflector. The inverse-square law bears that out. So you can't "add" light to your solution in this fashion. If 500 w/s came out of your strobe, you can't use a reflector to "add" an additional 100 w/s. But you can redirect some of that energy into areas that weren't illuminated by it in the first place.

As to your original question of when do you take a meter reading and why, I take readings before and after. I take my first reading after I've got my basic lighting solution (main and fill) set. I then use a spot meter to check and make sure all important parts of the image are within a 5-stop range and that I'm not blowing out any highlights (2-2.5 stops more than the overall exposure). I pay particular attention to the contrast ratios on skin, because anything greater than a 2.5:1 lighting ratio looks pretty severe. If something important falls outside of that range in the shadows I'll add reflectors or technical (a.k.a. tertiary) lights to bring those areas up.

-Chip
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Re: When using a reflector...
Old 01-05-2006, 10:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Just so we're square here... I totally agree that you aren't adding light to the overall exposure by using a mirror. Just like you said, the reflector lowers contrast by filling the shadows much like a fill flash would (I understand that fill flash adds to highlights as well, see below). But it's the contrast ratios that you're measuring. I mentioned that the mirror's effective 'output' is less than the reflected source by the amount of falloff.

If you only cared about the overall exposure you would simply take a reflective reading from your in-camera meter, compensate for the scene perhaps and shoot, right? What I'm getting at is, how much fill? Sam's shooting film. He needs to know with some certainty whether the shadows have enough, too little or too much fill.

For the purpose of measuring what's added to the shadows, a reflector is a source. If you remove it, the contrast goes up and the shadows darken. If you move it closer, the contrast decreases and the shadows lighten. The only difference is, just like you said, the reflector doesn't add anything to the highlights. You can arrange a strobe to have a similar effect so long as it doesn't illuminate the highlights.

Chip, You're statements are right. I'm not trying to setup an arguement. I respect your background utterly; I've seen your work and you're a consummate pro. I just don't think my explanation was wrong. I measure reflector fill the same as strobe fill and use the ratios directly unless ambient light is in play. I purposely avoided the difference between a reflector and a fill flash with ambient light because the the ratios are computed differently and I wasn't up to trying to put all that in a single post without clouding the issue.

Regards,
Chip
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Re: When using a reflector...
Old 01-06-2006, 01:47 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Heck man, you aren't going to get an argument out of me. Sam and I both shoot film, so excepting Polaroid (that's the stuff you used before you had a "chimper" on the back of your camera [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] ) the only way to know what's going to happen is to measure the highlights, midtones, and shadows and visualize how it's all going to come out. I perhaps used way too wide a brush in painting all comments as incorrect. Re-reading your post, I don't think your explanation was wrong either. That'll learn me to read more slowly and carefully.

What I didn't do too good a job of explaining is that, once you get your direct sources in place and metered, you can add all the reflectors you want wherever you want and not worry about your basic exposure. It doesn't matter whether you meter your basic exposure before or after putting reflectors in place because they don't affect your basic exposure. Adding reflectors isn't going to blow out your highlights or really affect anything that meters above zone 6. You can just concentrate on manipulating the shadows and the level of detail you want them to have. That's different than adding another light or two where you should re-check everything.

Dang, I said it better the second time around, and without all that technical mumbo-jumbo that sometimes gets in the way of seeing and creating imagery.

-Chip
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Bottom line
Old 01-06-2006, 02:10 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Use your light meter right before you are going to take the picture with whatever sources you are using. If you change those sources, meter again.

______________

Make sure you meter the highlight for your main exposure but meter your shadow and midtone areas to understand how the contrast will look. You should do this as a test for yourself to see by using fill light and/or reflectors and recording your ratios so you can see it in final print and compare.


Don't get caught up in all this technical rocket science stuff to confuse you. It's important to understand but it is what it is. Once you see it, you will understand it. Just meter it right before and whatever you are doing right before and keep it that way.

What has been mentioned for the most part is correct but it can confuse you to think that reflected light doesn't add exposure and it does when that source becomes your main source with the subject having less ambient light and then you throw in the main light source with a reflector.

Chip said that, wait which one, I dunno, so many Chips, but it can be easily over looked in context with different scenerios not fully explained from everyone.

My reply is not intended or directed to undermine anyone here as some valuable and expert information has been given here and the Chips' know what their talking about. Problem is, we don't....lol

J T [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
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for me personally...
Old 01-06-2006, 08:38 AM   #9 (permalink)
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It depends. If the subject is backlit I'll make sure to meter after the reflector is in place. If the subject is lit directly then the reflector is just opening up the shadows and I won't worry about metering the reflector.
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Re: Bottom line
Old 01-06-2006, 10:14 AM   #10 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
My reply is not intended or directed to undermine anyone here as some valuable and expert information has been given here and the Chips' know what their talking about. Problem is, we don't....lol

[/ QUOTE ]

Dang, I've been sabotaged by the english language......again!!! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

-Chip
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