The Light Solution
Portable, Versatile, Economical Reflectors
In-Studio and On-Location
by Joe Craig, Joe Craig Photography
In-studio or on location, taking portraits with a single light is a snap with TriLite reflectors.
How many lights does it take to make a great portrait? Fewer
than ever! Every pro knows that the best portraits can take four or
more lights—key, fill, hair, background—to produce a
well-lit and pleasing headshot.
Of course, some lights could be replaced by reflectors, but until recently, most of the savings would have been in your electric bill. Now Lastolite has developed a portable, compact, versatile, lightweight, and even economical solution: the TriLite.
As the name suggests, the TriLite is composed of three reflectors. What makes it unique is an articulated arm that allows the shaped reflectors to be close together yet positioned separately. The TriLite is more than a replacement for additional lights; it's an improvement. Amazingly, the entire setup folds into a collapsible carrying case only 31 inches long, 10 inches high, and three inches thick, weighing in at less than three pounds. Add a lighting stand plus a light source and you're ready to go.
The kit contains three collapsible triangular-shaped reflector panels with silver and gold stripes—which Lastolite calls'sunfire'—on one side and bright silver on the reverse. Optional gold/white and translucent accessory panels are available. The panels mount into a hinged three-piece arm that places the central reflector horizontally with reflectors on either side.
The variety of panels lets me change the feel and mood of a particular image quickly and easily. For a rugged portrait, I prefer the hard, cool quality of the silver reflector. For a softer beauty shot, I might use the warm gold panels. The sunfire falls somewhere between these extremes.
If you pair these panels with the crisp light from a white panel or the diffused light that comes through a translucent surface, you'll wind up with a variety of moods for creating your portraits.
The TriLite is easy to assemble and adjust. I begin by choosing the location for my model, setting up my main light—usually a strobe head with a softbox or a grid attached for directional qualities—high and centered on the subject, like classic butterfly lighting.
Next, I mount the three-piece arm on a light stand, and insert the reflectors into the rubber tabs on the arm. After arranging the remainder of my set, I bring in the model, adjust the overhead light, and move in the horizontal reflector to eliminate any shadows created by the butterfly lighting.
Finally, I position the two side reflectors to wrap the butterfly lighting around the face, filling any shadows on the cheeks and finishing the soft effect. In most portrait settings, I use a second strobe to light the background for additional separation from my subject.
I often shoot with just an Elinchrom OctaBank and the TriLite. The Octa illuminates the subject and the background. The TriLite, mounted on an angle, takes and raps the soft light from the Octa to the shadow side of the subject. The panels let me control and feather the fill light to accentuate the subject's face. Shooting often leaves a catch-light in the eyes, which adds sparkle to the portrait.
With a list price of $258, the TriLite saves hundreds of dollars and pounds of extra weight when compared with the additional strobe heads usually needed. This is particularly important for traveling to a location shoot.
When using Fuji NHG II in my Mamiya 645 AF, or shooting digital with the Fuji S1 and my Tamron lens, the combination of Elinchrom flash and Lastolite reflectors is my "lighting connection"—simple and versatile with unlimited creative potential. I wish the TriLite could fit in my camera bag.
Whether placed under the face for a headshot, set on its side for dramatic flair, or used as a wrap-around reflector for traditional portraits, the Lastolite TriLite is the single most versatile lighting accessory a portrait-fashion professional could want.
Lastolite makes a full line of collapsible reflectors and background systems, ranging from the Mini and Midi-Scroll Systems to collapsible vignette backgrounds and washable muslins. They also produce posing tubs for group portrait sittings and a baby poser. Bogen is the U.S. distributor.