GEAR REVIEW - LASTOLITE UPLITE
Shooting outdoors can make for spectacular images. In fact, I often prefer it to studio lighting. However, it can also present some problematic lighting conditions at times too. It would be nice if we could pick and choose our location and time of day to shoot in but, clients often dictate this.
If you find yourself shooting in midday sunshine and your surroundings offer nothing in the way of shade, you can find yourself up the proverbial creek without a paddle. At the very least your photographs will suffer with heavy shadows under the eyebrows and chin.
A reflector can solve this problem (as of course can flash) but, if you work alone you'll more than likely end up holding the reflector yourself, or precariously balancing one on your camera bag. This invariably doesn't stay at the required angle or falls over at the slightest breeze. In short, it's a pain in the backside and makes you look unprofessional in front of your client. This is where the Lastolite Uplite can prove to be an invaluable tool in your arsenal to help overcome those challenges.
Quick to construct, easy to articulate and position, the Uplite will lift shadows or provide a gorgeous fill light, whilst allowing you to concentrate on your subject and composition. This is achieved by connecting the two 120x90cm double-sided panels together via the Velcro strips to create a pivot. The opposite sides attach to a telescopic brace that clamp into place. The angle is adjustable between 30 and 80 degrees by extending or retracting the brace. The reflectors can be positioned either horizontally or vertically to suit your requirements.
The Uplite comes in three flavours - Cool tone or warm tone, as well as a special "Joe McNally" edition ( although looking at the Lastolite website, it looks like only the latter is the only one shown and the former may have been discontinued). The panels may be paired in different combinations to form a floor level bounce reflector. Depending on the panel used, the reflected light is either diffused or crisp and will either warm or cool down skin tones according to what version you purchase.
As always, construction is of the highest quality. The kit comes in the blue, heavy duty zip bags that Lastolite products are synonymous with. The reflectors are well made and definitely a step up over the generic reflectors you find on eBay. The telescopic brace is sturdy yet lightweight, which is what you want when carrying gear on location. There is also a black, elasticated, waterproof cover, that keeps the base dry. Often I find it a good idea to place your camera bag as a weight on the base reflector, to keep the whole thing secured when shooting outside. The Uplite works equally well in the studio for full body shots when a fill light is required.
The Uplite retails for around £170 for the Joe McNally Kit, but you may still find the Cool/Warm tone version available at some on-line stores. While that price may seem expensive for a couple of reflectors, the freedom and versatility it provides makes it extremely worthwhile. If you were hiring an assistant for location shoots on a regular basis, the Uplite will quickly pay for itself in no time at all. If you're been through the rigmarole of using reflectors outside on your own, you'll know how frustrating and restricting they can be to use and how ugly your photos can be without one.