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White vs Silver vs Gold Reflectors for Photography

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Reflectors are very useful tools for portrait or fashion photography. They come in all shapes and sizes, and they also come in a few different color/reflective material options. If you’re wondering about the difference between the different color options (white, silver, gold), then this post should give you a very good starting point.

No Reflector

First, here’s a self-portrait taken without any reflectors.

No reflector at all
No Reflector

This is our baseline image. The only bottom reflection that I get in this case if from the pale wooden floor. The photo was taken using a silver beauty dish placed directly in front of me and pointing down at about a 45-degree angle.


White Reflector

Now I’m holding a large white reflector right under the frame:

White reflector
White Reflector

As you can see, the shadows are reduced quite nicely and evenly when using a white reflector.


Silver Reflector

Here’s the portrait, but now using a silver reflector:

Silver reflector
Silver Reflector

With a silver reflector the highlights will be more specular, and anything reflective/shiny will be accentuated even more compared to when using a white reflector. In the portrait here you can notice the extra specular highlight in the eye.


Gold Reflector

Now, this is what the image looks like if I use a gold reflector:

Gold reflector
Gold Reflector

It adds a warm tone to the image. That can be useful when trying to imitate the sun, but most of the time I stay away from using a gold reflector, unless the additional gold/warm tone is something that I’m looking for.


Bonus: Negative Fill

Many of the 5-in-1 reflectors also have a black side that can be used as negative fill. Here’s the result:

Black reflector
Black/Negative Fill

This ensures that I’m not getting any reflections from the floor and makes my neck and some facial features darker compared to no reflector at all.

All Together

For an easier side-by-side comparison, here’s a montage with the different options all together:

All reflectors compared in one image

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