A new reflector, what could they possibly do to improve the good old reflector, the basic but essential piece of kit used by so many throughout the years. We have had different colours, sizes, materials and all sorts of shapes and kits. This one is a bit different though. It is claimed to be a 10 in 1 reflector, with the usual white, silver, sunlight and black surfaces, along with the diffusion panel in the centre, however this one has a twist.
Now I must admit there's been a few occasions, one in particular comes to mind, where I was trying to achieve an image and commented that I would like to cut a hole in the reflector to poke the camera through. In fact on one occasion I almost did this, but couldn't bring myself to, in case it went horribly wrong. Westcott have come up with the perfect solution. this detachable panel allows you to shoot through the small window whilst retaining the shape and a large % of the reflective surface. it also gives a totally different catchlight effect and I was excited to put this through it's paces.
My first thought when i saw this product was "Now why didn't I think of that!"
Because we didn't have much time to test this properly in time for this issue, it was hard to use it in all the ways I'd like to, however I will be testing it properly in the coming weeks and will post my findings on my website. I set up a shoot based on the fact that I was shooting in the Scottish Highlands, where using a reflector outdoors is challenging even in the summer months. This was January, however, so the stormy weather meant I would have to test it in proper sunlight at a later date. I decided to do a boudoir/bridal style shoot, so we were mainly working with window light. I have also used a Lowell ID video light bounced into it, just to explore the possibilities. I will be tsting it outdoors in the coming weeks, and will try it with off camera flash combinations as well.
Out of the package, first impression was how light it was. I have no idea why I expected it to be heavier, but I did. It is incredibly light and easy to handle. Folding it up is the same as any other reflector, although it did seem like there was more material to it and needed 'tucked in' a bit to fit back in the supplied bag. Changing the panels from gold/silver sides, to white/black was easy and the zip seems really good, no sticking or struggles to get it fitted together. The panels are a good design and held in place by velcro. I wasn't sure how they would work before I opened the packet but they are very simple with opposite coloured sides just like the main part of the reflector. All in all very impressed with the first feel of it. There are suction cup hooks supplied with the kit as well, so you can hang it up, particularly useful on windows to act as a diffuser.
Time to put it into action!
We started in the window, with the reflector in it's "complete" state. I was very pleased at the lightweight side of things as it meant I could hang it on a stand which normally topples over. The silver reflector gave a great fill of light, and then I removed the panel and did some shots through the "window" which was better for positioning it where I needed it.
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The next two shots, with model Charlene seated at the dressing table show a before and after with and without the silver reflector, and you can see the huge difference it makes. This time the reflector was handheld.
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The next set up came about as the sun popped out and was giving a nice pattern just one wall in the bridal suite. This was a chance to play with the diffuser panel. I shot the first image with no reflector, and although I love the way the light is scattering around, there's obviously issues with highlights, so I then popped the diffusion panel in front of Charlene and created a totally different image. Personally I like the one with the highlights but it shows the options you have if it was an issue.
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Then I had Charlene in the window light again, with no reflector, before turning her back to the light and putting the sunlight side of the Omega next to the mirror bouncing the real sunlight back into her face in the reflection. Just a quick demo really to show that you can get two very strong images as simple as that.
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We then moved to the staircase where I set up a slightly trickier shot which involved getting Charlene up into the window then hanging the reflector over the stairs to bounce the light back from the stained glass window. This was using the full silver reflector.
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The next few images were shot with the silver and white reflectors. The sun had almost gone by now so I had the reflector on the floor for these kicking what little light we had left up into her face. I must admit I was pleased with just how well this worked.
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We then moved downstairs into the Great hall, where the daylight had all but gone. I decided to set my Lowell video light up and bounce it into the sunlight side of the reflector for these and give us a warm feel, to match the lights in the hall. I was very pleased with how well it worked for these and this was where the shoot through option really came into it's own as I could evenly spread the light across Charlene's face and still shoot where I wanted to, to keep her central to the fireplace.
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A summary of the first shoot with the Omega. It is easy to use, lightweight and a great size for both close up and full length shots (38"x45"). It is very easy to change from one set up to another, although personally I see myself using just silver/sunlight sides with and without centre panels. I tend to only really use a silver reflector, but I love the subtle gold effect of the sunlight, compared to many genuine gold reflectors, which I always find too warm. It's not easy to use fixed to a stand, but that's the same with any reflector in my opinion, and I will definitely use an assistant on future shoots with it. It performed brilliantly in the conditions I used it under, and I am pretty certain those were as tricky as I am likely to face. I look forward to testing it properly in actual sunlight. If it can perform that well on a dull day I am sure it will be an essential addition to my kit bag. It is good value for money coming in at $100 and I will definitely be using this a lot in the future. It is likely to become an important asset on my wedding and portrait shoots.
Thanks to my wonderful model Charlene O'Malley for her efforts.