The Secret Ingredient of This DIY Light Modifier Is... Glitter (& the Results Are Fantastic)

DIY Glitter Reflector
Credit: Dollar Photo Club
Few substances inspire pathological hatred in me like glitter.

Just coming within a few feet of someone using glitter for whatever reason, and you're sure to find it everywhere -- your hands, clothes, hair, etc. -- for the next month. And up until today, I thought that glitter was irredeemable, doomed to an eternity in hell for its glittery sins against humanity. This dirt-cheap DIY reflector, however, is making me reconsider my tough position on that sparkly devil dust.

In a new tutorial from the Angry Photographer (who's got some really great videos on his channel), Ken Wheeler walks us through a DIY reflector solution that he's used for portraiture, among other types of photography. The secret ingredient of this reflector is -- you guessed it -- glitter. Though it's geared towards a photography crowd, this technique can absolutely be used to create some stunning lighting effects for filmmakers. Check it out:

This technique can be used to create extremely subtle textures and variations in color. Essentially, each particle of glitter acts like a tiny mirror that creates a small, specular reflection. When you cover a black card in glitter, you're creating thousands of those little reflections, each one slightly different from all of the others. Then when you consider that different colors of glitter will reflect light differently, and you consider that different bounce card colors and materials will produce different results, the possibilities seem endless. And the best part is all of these materials are so inexpensive that you could experiment with it indefinitely without any significant investment. 

Angry Photographer Glitter Reflector
Although I haven't tried it yet, I imagine that you can use this to create some surreal and expressionistic lighting effects that would be difficult, if not impossible, to produce any other way than with a glitter-covered bounce card. For that reason, you might want to consider using this in dreamier sequences, or simply to add a randomized texture to a face or a background. 

The only drawback that I can see with this is -- you guessed it again -- all of that glitter. I'd be hesitant to mount this on or near any other pieces of expensive filmmaking equipment, particularly a lens, where one particle of glitter could really wreak havoc. With that said, after a few uses, your various clamps and grip equipment might have a fabulous sparkle to them.

Have you ever used glitter to create lighting effects? If so, share your experience with us down in the comments.     

Your Comment


Great Hack

August 3, 2015 at 1:49PM


yea i have used a type of lighting like that, but i have found that book covers with
sparkly kaleidoscope coverings really do a nice effect i used one with this food shot
plus no glitter mess, i would also consider mylar balloons with unique patterns

August 3, 2015 at 2:13PM

mark palmer
Owner Director, DP

Very interesting... developing this idea further could result in some excellent light effects, both dramatic and subtle.

August 4, 2015 at 4:01AM

PJ Palomaki
Cinematographer | Motion Graphics