Handling Color Reflections

Film is a beautiful medium but it does come with a small set of tradeoffs. One of the biggest things that makes film different than digital is it is especially sensitive to color reflections. These reflections can be caused by walls, grass, stone, neighboring objects, or even the clothing you’re wearing as the photographer! In the image below, you can see how having the subject right up against the colored surface her face picks up the reflection of the bright yellow wall.  The closer you are to your reflector, the more intense the color will be.

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How do you shoot fun colored scenes on film?  The best trick is to reposition your subjects so the color reflection is behind them just like in this example.

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Shooting on green grass can be a little trickier. If you find yourself shooting in a grassy area in bright sunlight, try to place your subjects on or near a patch of shade. As you choose where to place your subjects, think of the ground beneath them as a large reflector.

Handling reflections from colored clothing can also be difficult, especially when the choice of wardrobe is out of your control. Try to keep subject’s heads tilted up, and avoid leaning or positioning them close to the bright color.

It may seem daunting, but just remember that most of the time, you can see the color reflections with your naked eye! Just slow down and look closely.

photos by Caitlin Kellagher | Fuji 400H | Contax 645