Introduction to Flash for Beauty Images

Lesson 10/13 - Shoot: With Reflectors


Introduction to Flash for Beauty Images


Lesson Info

Shoot: With Reflectors

Alright, let's move on to our next lighting scenario. And let's talk about, make sure I'm on task here, reflectors. What can we do if you just have reflectors? Can you produce a beauty look with just reflectors and no other lighting modifiers. Well I haven't practiced this, I hate to tell you. So, I'm gonna learn with you, but my answer is yes, we can accomplish this. What's one of the fun parts of these creative live classes is you guys get to see me work in realtime, and you get to see my mistakes and my successes. So for this, I want kind of a large light. I can use these smaller reflectors, and they will actually work pretty well, but I'm gonna pull in a nice big, honkin' reflector. And that's a technical term. Honkin'. This is made by a company called Lastolite. And it's actually a collapsible backdrop. But the cool thing about this is it's somewhat translucent, so you can shoot flash through it, you can reflect flash off of it. On a bright and sunny day, you can put it over the m...

odel to prevent the light from shining on her. And it's almost six feet tall, It's about 5'11 tall, 5'10 something like that. It's a great size product. And I know I keep talking about saving money, but oh my goodness, I love this tool. It was less than a hundred bucks, but it's worth every penny. How am I gonna hold this thing up here? Well I'm gonna use that little clampy thing that I showed earlier. And I'm losing sight of all of my... Where did that light stand go? It's behind this. Did I hide it back there? Oh it is. Okay, cool. I'm warning you, don't buy too much flash gear otherwise you can't find any of your flash gear. (laughing) I know you're like oh Mike, woe is me. Okay. So to do this setup, what I think that I'm gonna do is I'm gonna use this as my secondary reflector. So this is gonna reflect light back onto the subject. And then my key light or my primary light, I'm gonna shine into my silver reflector. Cause I know I'm gonna need as much power and umph as I can possibly get. This light stand is only six feet tall, so that's something else we haven't actually talked about today, is how tall should your light stands be? Well, you can see that it'd be nice to have a taller light stand, but for this, we'll just work with it. Typically, I recommend eight foot light stands, at a minimum, eight or nine feet. It gives you a lot of flexibility in the real world. And now I'm gonna swap this one out, so we're gonna go to silver rather than white. When you're working with models, sometimes it's nice to have this stuff set up ahead of time, so that not everybody's waiting around. Especially when you're working with kids and younger folks. Kids are very impatient, but Natalie is very patient. Thank you. Okay, now I have to figure out a way to get that flash to go into this reflector. So, this will be the key light. And I gotta think about how that's gonna be positioned. And, in general, remember that light feathering and that centering that light, kind of there in the middle, set up about there. Cool. That should work. This is gonna be a reflector on this side. So now I gotta figure out a way to put the flash basically right over there. This is probably the least expensive way that you can actually do a beauty light scenario. Very inexpensive. So, what I'm gonna do, is I'm going to take this flash out, and I'm actually gonna mount it here, on this little brass stud. Just straight. Straight mount. To do that, whenever you buy these flashes that come with little plastic feet, I don't know if you guys have seen these before. Pull that out here. So, there's the little foot and the flash goes in there. And on the bottom that foot is a little quarter by 20 stud, and that just goes right onto this. So a quarter by 20 threaded nut, and that goes right here on the stud. Excellent. Now the next thing I'm thinking about is spread. I gotta make sure that this flash spreads to the size of that reflector. So a couple ways to do that, one is to put the diffusion dome, but what that does is it sends light straight up, straight down, and off to the sides. I don't necessarily want that to happen, so I'm gonna do a little bit less spread than that. And I'm just gonna pull out this little diffusion panel here. And that gives me probably enough spread to cover the whole size of that reflector. We'll heighten that up. We'll bring it here to the front. Super. And it's basically gonna shine there onto the reflector. Another thing that I do, is I actually push the flash button, pull this out so you all can see what I'm doing. If I press this flash button, it'll trigger the flash and I can actually see the throw of light and make sure that it is indeed covering the whole surface area of that reflector. So I do that when I position it. Okay. Yeah, sometimes what I'll do is also look at the ceiling to see if there's any spill or overflow onto the ceiling. Okay, that's cool. I'm liking that. And, I think we're ready to take the picture. Again, close counts. So, I'm gonna get these in nice and close to reflect as much light as possible. I have no idea what the exposure's gonna be, so let's see what we've got. Here's the test. (camera clicks) Nice. So I'm at a two-hundreth of a second, or actually, that was at a two-fiftieth, but that shouldn't matter. Has it come in yet? I wasn't paying attention. Oh, you know what? It's not tethered. So I have to reconnect here I think. So what I'm gonna do, this is typical in this studio, is that the tether stops. So I'll just shut down the tethering and I go back to file, tethered capture to start it up again. And I hit okay, and then it takes a second. There we are. Now we're connected. Take two. (camera clicks) Great. Lovely. Oh yeah! So, what a different look, huh? So now we're getting some pretty harsh shadows. And that shadow is pretty harsh because we are shooting into a silver reflector, pretty close to her. You can see it's slightly off axis, right? Cause you can see the shadow coming off of her left side. But that's a shinier, brighter, more intense look. And this is a good learning opportunity for us all. This is what maybe a silvered umbrella would look like. Or a silvered let's say a soft box without a diffusion panel in front of it. A much more intense feel to it. So how do we get rid of that shadow on the side? Well, I gotta get the light more centered, more in front of her. So to do that, I'd have to bring it over here. Rise it up a tiny bit. You hear me talking about on axis. Does that term make sense for you all? On axis means in line with her face. So like the shadow would fall behind her. Okay. Try that. Super. And again, one, two, three (camera clicks) Now I have a feeling, I'm going to want to bring in another reflector on the other side. Alright. So we're still getting a little bit of the shadow cause we're not perfectly on axis. And overall, it feels a little bit bright. Would you all agree? A little bit too hot? So again, I don't want to go and adjust my flash. So I'm just gonna bring my ISO down. I was at, well you can see there I'm at ISO 320, I'm gonna bring it down two-thirds of a stop to ISO and shoot again. Nice (camera clicks) Great. And the look, that should look pretty good. Alright. Maybe one-third of a stop would've been better, but you get the feel. You get the idea. How do we deal with that shadow? Well, there's a couple of ways. I could again try to work harder to get it more on axis. Or, I can pull her away a little bit more from the background. And by doing that, it will actually cause the shadow to fall farther behind her. So, I think I might try that. Just a little bit. Move everything forward a little bit. And then I'm gonna have you stand up and come forward. A tiny bit. Good. Not too far, because then we lose that white backdrop. Couple inches. Maybe six inches? Hopefully that solved it. And then, going a little bit higher, now that we're forward. And bring this up a little bit. Okay. And I'll probably, I think the brightness will be okay cause we kinda moved everything equivalent. What's going through my head is, did we change the distance from the flash to her? That's the most important distance. And one, two, three (camera clicks) Great. And I bet that shadow's gonna fall down a little bit farther behind her and it has. It's not perfect, but you get the idea, so. You can get this look with reflectors. Just, and reflectors only. Should we see what it looks like with just the white reflector? I'm kinda curious about that. Let's do that. Cause I know there's some questions earlier on about the difference in the looks comparing this versus that. You know, a soft box versus a beauty dish. Let's just look at the difference between silver versus white. And I think what we'll find is is that the white is a much softer look overall. Less specular. Okay. Great. And I know for sure, here, what we're gonna have to do is, we're gonna have to change the exposure because we're reflecting a lot less light overall. But, let's just do a test. Everything's the same. (camera clicks) Great. I have a feeling we're gonna have to bring that back up to ISO 320. Oh, not bad. What's amazing to me is how much light is coming off of her shoulder and her neck on our left side, her right side. We're getting all of that reflection just from this. So ideally, I'm gonna pull in another one for the other side to get both sides so they look about the same. But the exposure on that's pretty good. And just to finish this off, I'm gonna pull in one other reflector. For this, I'm gonna use a human-powered light stand. Because I can't actually shoot with my right hand and hold it with my right hand, so would one of you be willing to hold this for me? You wanna do it? Cool. I know I promise that you could do all this on your own, but hey, sometimes a human helps. Alright, about right there. Come right, right there. Perfect. Actually go back a little bit. Yup, right on. In this case, I would normally have another light stand with another little clampy on top to hold it in place. (camera clicks) Cool. I think that should do it. Thank you. Yeah, look at that. Look at how that filled in the shadows on both sides. I'll compare this one with the previous one. And the one on the left, is the most recent one. The one on the right was the one without the other reflector in place. Really nice look to that. And you've done that just to recap what we've done, a 30 dollar reflector here, a 30 dollar reflector here, and maybe a 70 or 80 dollar reflector there. And you could actually, you could probably get it done with just three of these. So for around a hundred bucks, you've got yourself a scenario, where you can get pretty nice looking beauty light overall. Right on. Okay, any questions about using the reflectors as your primary light sources? Yeah. Thanks. The big white reflector has any special name to find it? This one here? Yeah. The large one? Yeah it's called, I think they call it a collapsible backdrop. And it's made by a company called Lastolite. Lastolite. I think this one's like, look for like a four foot by six foot, something like that, or maybe a four by seven. Somewhere in that range. Another company that I've purchased these from is called Botrero, or Botero, it's back there. B-O-T-E-R-O. They make a bunch of them as well. But just look for a collapsible backdrop, and that should do it. Cause it's technically a backdrop cause of how large it is, but I like using it, instead, for the reflectors.

Class Description

When your client requests a beautiful image to mimic a fashion look, you’ll need the lighting skills to take on the challenge. Join photographer Mike Hagen as he helps you grow your flash lighting toolkit to create that glamorous look. Mike will teach:

  • How to incorporate flash in order to create the mood
  • Using light shapers
  • Various modifiers like softboxes, reflectors and umbrellas

Learning to use flash allows you to control your environment and be more experimental with the images you create. Expand your portrait business and make your client happy by mastering your flash.



Practical, informative, affordable instruction that’s easy to understand and leaves you excited to jump into the studio with a single flash and whatever you have on hand .. soft boxes, umbrellas, v flats or even a bunch of cheap reflectors. Mike is a superb instructor. Highly recommend.


Really good. Superb teacher. Bought it. Worth the money.