By Betsy Finn, M.Photog.Cr., CPP
All images ©Betsy Finn
We all love multi-tools, especially when it comes to lighting equipment. But is more always better? The Westcott Omega Reflector with 10-in-1 function is an inventive take on the standard multi-function reflector. It differs from its predecessors in one key feature—a removable panel in the middle that creates a window for shooting through.
I decided to test out only the shoot-through capabilities of this reflector since the other functions are pretty standard. I wanted to know if the shoot-through capability is worth getting a new reflector. To begin, I experimented in the studio with the reflector and one backlight. Here’s the subject with only the backlight:
By simply tipping and tilting the reflector, I was able to quickly create a variety of lighting options, both broad and narrow, as shown below.
I'd like to emphasize that I'm not advocating the ’80s backlit hair effect in these images; my goal was to show how the light could be manipulated with the reflector, even when placed directly behind the subject. Hopefully it goes without saying that you’d adjust the placement of your hair light in relation to the placement of the reflector to eliminate the extreme backlit hair issue.
Here’s another in-studio portrait, this one created using two lights with the reflector as fill. As you can see in this pullback, I used a 4x6-foot soft box as my main, a hair light above and behind the subject, and the reflector in front.
Here’s the final image taken through the reflector.
And here’s an image taken with the reflector removed (below).
I think this effect could have been achieved without using the shoot-through aspect of the Omega, and I did find the panel opening a little restrictive in framing my portrait. As you might have noted in my previous example, the reflector was very close to my subject, visible within what would have been a three-quarter length shot at most.
On location the shoot-through panel was a little more useful. I used an LED light as the hair light and placed the Omega reflector between the camera and my subject for use as the main light. Here’s a pullback:
The final portrait definitely benefited from having both a hair light and the Omega’s shoot-through panel feature. Here’s the result with the reflector:
And while not the same exact angle, this image gives you an idea of what the portrait would have looked like given the natural lighting in the room:
There was one thing that I didn’t really notice until I was editing my images. The panel, when removed, creates a distinct black square in the center of your catchlight. You may or may not like the effect.
Some final thoughts on using the Omega with the shoot-through panel removed: This really shines for headshots and closely framed images or if you’re working on location and don’t have room to set up multiple lights. The shoot-through window isn’t practical for, say, full-length images. You would need to move the reflector far enough away to frame the entire subject, and at that point it’s no longer very effective as a reflector. Bottom line: the Omega definitely has its uses. You’ll have to decide whether the shoot-through feature is worth upgrading. Definitely consider it as an addition to your arsenal if you work on location and want to minimize the equipment you carry.
The Westcott Omega Reflector is 38x45 inches, folds down to a 14-inch circle for storage, and comes with a storage bag. It retails for $119.90. For more information on the Omega Reflector, visit http://www.fjwestcott.com/reflectors-scrims/omega-reflector.
Betsy Finn, M.Photog.Cr.,CPP, has a portrait studio in Michigan. She blogs at BPhotoArt.com.