I’ve written in past articles on the gold reflector and how it was originally made to provide warm, reflected light to illuminate subjects standing in the shade or open shade where the light color temperature is more cool in color.  The warmth from the gold will cancel out the blue cast often found in photos with subjects standing the shaded areas.

 Well there is another use for gold reflectors that works great with digital photography when it comes to outdoors and white-balance.  The results create dramatic skies and backgrounds that are illuminated by natural daylight and when that subject is not standing in the shade.  As mentioned earlier, the gold or warmer light from the reflector cancels out the coolness when the subject is standing in the shade, thus the image is truly daylight balance, but let’s take the subject out of the shade, preferrably in an area where the light is not harsh.

With this technique we change our white-balance from normal daylight of 5500K or if you shoot warm like me, from 6000K and change it to about 4,000K.  Thus, when you illuminate the subject with gold, the lower-temperature colored light will balance out and the higher-temperature sky, or daylight lit background will turn cooler or more blue.  Depending on the reflector and time of day you shoot at, you can adjust your white-balance even lover from 3200 to 3700K and deepen the blue in the daylight lit areas.

 This all takes practice, but can provide for some interesting backgrounds that will have a more dramatic appeal to them.  My favorite reflector brand is the California Sunbounce and the fabrics for the reflector frames come in many colors including gold. 

The idea with gold reflectors, don’t misuse them by photographing someone illuminated with a gold reflector outside of shaded areas with a normal, daylight-balanced white-balance.  Either illuminate your subject when they are in the shade with normal white-balance (5,000-6,000K) and a gold reflector or change the white-balance to a warmer number (3200-4000K) and illuminate your subject with a gold reflector when they are standing outside of shaded areas in to more direct sunlight.  Wishing you the best, rg sends!

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