Getting the most out of your Interfit reflector

by Paul Stillman

Posted on 2017-10-17 (1951 VIEWS)

GEAR REVIEW: Interfit 5 in 1 reflectors

Photography, we all know, means ‘drawing with light’. And to produce good photographs we must understand the nature of light, and often control it.

The problem is that the human eye and the camera do not see light in exactly the same way. So, stepping into an attractive scene on a sunlit day we notice the bright colours and the structure of the subject, the light and the shadows emphasising their shape. But when we come to photograph what we see we may be disappointed by the high contrast and dark shadows, spoiling the delicacy and detail of the subject, and how we wanted to represent it. Expose for the shadows and blow out the highlights – even worse.

The same applies to portraiture, still life, close up and many other genres of photography and in each reflectors and diffusers are extremely useful, transforming the picture and restoring the detail. The Interfit reflector comes in three sizes, 22, 32 or 42 inches across when expanded. They all spring out from their covers in the usual way, and whilst refolding takes a little practice, once mastered it is very quick and convenient. The advantage of carrying a pouch about one-third of the size of the open panel is apparent, the smaller fitting into almost any camera bag with ease.

Opened up I was immediately struck by the quality. They feel robust and immediately inspire confidence to work with, despite their modest price. The opened reflector is black on one side, silver on the other, and unzips around the rim. Taken off, turned inside out and reapplied reveals a white or gold surface. Left off, at the centre is the diffuser, neutral in colour and softening the light coming through it. So far so good, but do they work? Well, you can use a sheet of newspaper or aluminium foil stolen from the kitchen drawer, but I found that useless. The solid frame and ability to position it where needed is essential.

Probably the white reflector gets used most often. The great thing about any reflector is that it simply can’t reflect more light than it receives. Obvious I guess, but it means whatever you do with even the shiniest surface you won’t get double shadows, or the fill in taking over, both easily possible with flash in daylight. So the white surface, placed on the shadow side of the subject and angled to bounce light back at it, then adjusted by distance until the effect is achieved, adds a controllable fill in. If you need more light, perhaps because the subject is large and you need to have the reflector further away, the silver is much brighter and more directional. Using the gold adds a good deal of ‘warmth’ to the shadow area, sometimes a bit too much. A very noticeable effect, but needs caution not to overdo it. And then the black. Not truly a reflector at all, and therefore easily overlooked. But photographing small subjects in complete shadow by positioning the reflector in the light source, and allowing totally non-directional light to illuminate, produces a gentle soft light. If like me you go back as far as film days you may be programmed to think bright sunlight is best. The detail revealed in shadow illuminated subjects can be very compelling. And the 42” black reflector can make an ideal isolating backdrop for a small specimen.

Straight shot, no modification. © Paul Stillman

Silver reflector. © Paul Stillman

White reflector. © Paul Stillman

Gold reflector. © Paul Stillman

Diffuser. © Paul Stillman

Black disk, blocking light to the foreground subject and bringing up the background. © Paul Stillman



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