Video: Using Reflectors for Macro Shots

Here's a short little video clip that demonstrates how easy it is to use reflectors to flesh out a macro shot.

Main point: They are lighting from the back/top, with a top/backlight-based exposure. So they use the reflectors to basically do everything else, except the additional background light.

This video is a demo for a commercial product (the reflector system.) But I think, with some deviously clever engineering, it just might actually be possible to DIY these things out of cardboard, posterboard, aluminum foil, a guy wearing a white T-shirt - whatever.

Call me ambitious, but I think it could be done.

If you shoot (or find) a cool lighting-related video on YouTube, please suggest it through the link at the top of the Video Archive dropdown menu on the sidebar at right.



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Anonymous Derek said...

Could be possible to DIY? Until you pointed out it was a commercial product, I seriously thought it was folded up copier paper.

June 20, 2007 12:37 AM  
Blogger Stephan Ahonen said...

I'll use pretty much anything white that's lying around. Netflix envelopes I haven't sent back yet, sheets of printer paper, even CD jewel cases. Lately though I've been lighting my macro shots by using a 30 second exposure and painting it with a flashlight.

June 20, 2007 1:24 AM  
Blogger Joshua Targownik said...

You are becoming a funnier and better blogger with each post. keep it up.

As for me, I have a mechanical engineering degree from Columbia University, and five years of experience designing cars for a major Japanese automaker. I'm going devote some serious time to solving the "reflector system at home" problem.

June 20, 2007 1:27 AM  
Blogger tangcla said...

wow. Talk about being entrepreneurial.

So.... anyone here interested in a Light-White(TM)? It's like the LightRight but better. And for only five monthly instalments of $49.95 + postage and handling...

(seriously though... don't buy it! spend the money on pre-made snoots and gobos instead!! haha)

June 20, 2007 4:18 AM  
Anonymous Rod said...

Strange video... Maybe not the best to show what can be done with reflectors.

June 20, 2007 4:35 AM  
Anonymous Luis Cruz said...

I use lots of small mirrors torn from my girlfriend's old compacts (not the cameras, the thingamajigs with their make-up). The set isn't very pretty, but the shots are.

June 20, 2007 4:54 AM  
Blogger Max said...

I don't see how you could possibly make something like this yourself: they use magnets for adjustment.

And not just any magnets - ones with super-neato white lightning powers (see their website).


June 20, 2007 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Call me ambitious, but I think it could be done." ;)

June 20, 2007 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a way to download the video files from Strobist articles? My company blocks the video from playing within the Stobist page (trying to keep us in line, I guess) but they don't block the download of a video file that you can then play locally!

June 20, 2007 9:56 AM  
Blogger Ray said...


I was watching some of the other videos linked by this one and saw one of the photographers using one of these:

I didn't even know those existed and were so cheap.
What do you think of these?

June 20, 2007 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It didn't have any soumd for me.

June 20, 2007 11:57 AM  
Blogger David said...

There's no soumd on the video. Just pix. It's kind of a "moment of zen" thing...

June 20, 2007 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Paulo Rodrigues said...

OMG the next video in the series is about how to light a gun toting naked chick, and you are showing us videos of a clock. You have lost it David ;)

June 20, 2007 4:15 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

Looks like silver metallic poster board goes for $2 for a 22x28" sheet online:

The packages are $40 for 25 sheets, but I doubt you need THAT much... unless you plan on competing against LightRight ;) You could also probably find smaller quantities of the stuff in your local office supply store.

Toss in magnets or Velcro, or even just tape, and you've got a much cheaper alternative.

June 27, 2007 11:21 AM  
Blogger Jericho1968 said...

As much as I appreciate the Strobist "on-the-cheap" philosophy, what I see here is a great little product that you might consider actually buying!

It stores flat, it's silver/white reversable, nice little magnets, relatively inexpensive. These guys are actually taking a page from our book. They're replacing lots of expensive, cumbersome lights with a bit of reflective carboard and some brain-power. Let's support them and buy a few.

July 05, 2007 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems most of the posts just don't get it. This is a well made product that will last a long time. It is not the right tool for everyone but any one who shoot a lot of table top products, fod, jewelry etc. will find them a great asset.
How do I know? Because I have used the same set for over 10 years and have billed hundreds of thosands of dollars of product shoots and am still using them. It is certainly not worth my time to "copy" them, perhaps it is for someone but you would make them any better than they are!

July 22, 2007 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is another lighting tutorial using reflectors on using a east window as the only light source.

With and without reflectors. This also has no sound but gets the idea across. These LightRight reflectors are not new to the industry, Shutterbug mag back in 1991 said "Lightright is simply the easiest and most cost-effective light-control system ever designed"
Bob Shell, SHUTTERBUG. There seems to be a problem with the movie on youtube, it stops after 7 seconds, just click play again and it starts.

July 22, 2007 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Carol Anne said...

Having purchased the LightRight system, I applaud the designer. Thinking outside the box. As a beginner, intermediate or advanced photographer, a person can carry easily, place, tilt, adjust, rearrange quickly and precisely. They are quick, easy, well designed, white or silver. The first time I did a picture with these, the quality was astounding. Then, they fold flat and back into the box. As a creative person myself, I appreciate the fact I don't have to figure out the details of it; just use it. Thanks LightRight! You're just the greatest! Love the new video BTW.

July 22, 2007 3:04 PM  
Blogger Nomad_404 said...

I saw this vid years ago and wet out to buy gold and silver matte cardboard and magnetic tape. Did some calculating, drawing, cutting and voila, for about €7,- I had my own macro reflector set.
Can't remember where I put it though, but it worked like a charm.

September 12, 2012 10:06 PM  

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