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Shoot: One Speedlite with Fill Reflector

I’ve said it before: The range of bright and dark tones that can be recorded by our cameras is much narrower than the range of light we can see. With a single Speedlite, there is the great possibility that when you balance your exposure for the light on the bright side of your subject’s face, the other side will fall into dark shadow. An easy fix, when using one Speedlite, is to fill the shadows with a reflector.

Fly A Bit Of Light Past Your Subject For Fill

The idea in using a reflector to fill shadows is that you capture the light that flies past your subject and bounce it back. It helps if you angle your Speedlite so that a bit of its light flies in front of your subject. This is the light that you will catch in the reflector and bounce back. When you angle a light away from your subject, you are feathering the light.

Get Your Fill Reflector In Close

I push my fill reflector in as tight to my subject as possible—meaning that the reflector comes in until I see it in the frame and then I back it out just enough so that I don’t have to head into Photoshop later.

Lighting Details

Environment: Indoors

Time of Day: Late night

Ambient: Very dim tungsten

Speedlite: One 580EX II

Mode: Manual

Power Level: 1by4.jpg

Zoom: 70mm

Modifier: Large Rogue FlashBender strapped to off-camera side of head

Distance to Subject: 3′

Height: Level with Zack’s head

Trigger: Extra-long E-TTL cord

Camera Details

Camera: 5D Mark II

Lens: 24–70mm f/2.8L

Distance to Subject: 8′

Exposure Mode: Manual

Exposure: 1by60.jpg″, f/8, ISO 400

White Balance: Flash

Figure 19.7

Figure 19.7 Lighting diagram

Figure 19.8

Figure 19.8 My friend Zack Arias (,, lit with a single Speedlite at camera right. The two keys to making this shot were to flag the flash from hitting the steel door directly behind Zack and to fill the shadowy side of his face. To flag the background, I strapped a large Rogue FlashBender to the side of the Speedlite and aimed it right behind Zack’s shoulder. To fill the shadows, I angled a 42″ gold/silver reflector disk so that the flash flying past Zack’s nose would bounce back into the shadows.


Figure 19.9 The shot without the reflector.

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