Also known as plane reflectors, "flats" or bounce boards, this kind of reflector is located independent of a light source; the light is reflected off its surface, either to achieve a broader light source, or control shadows and highlights, or both. This kind of reflector generally has a very low reflectivity factor that varies widely according to surface texture and color. As a result, it is most commonly used to control contrast in both artificial and natural lighting, in place of a fill light or "kick" light. In this case, light "spilling" from the main ambient or key light illuminating a scene is reflected back into the scene with varying degrees of precision and intensity, according to the chosen reflective surface and its position relative to the scene.
Reflectors may also be used as a means of increasing the size of the main light source, which may (or may not) retain a direct path to the scene. By positioning a board reflector close to a light source, its effective size can be increased by "bouncing" the light off it. A very common example of this technique is the traditional umbrella reflector, invented by George Larson, typically having a gold, silver or matte white interior onto which a lamp fitted with a circular reflector is projected, providing a broad, soft illumination. The lamp faces away from the scene to be photographed, allowing only reflected light to be thrown forward. Types of Reflector. 1 Dispersive reflector. 2 Holophane. 3 optical combination 4 concentrating 5 Angle.
Reflectors vary enormously in size, color, reflectivity, and portability. In tabletop still life photography, small mirrors and card stock are used extensively, both to reduce lighting contrast and create highlights on reflective subjects such as glassware and jewelry. Larger-scale subjects such as motor vehicles require the use of huge "flats", often requiring specialized motorized winches to position them accurately.
Location photography calls for much more portable materials and a large range of lightweight, folding reflectors are commercially available in a variety of colors.