Frequently Asked Questions
Is it true a photographer developed the California Sunbounce photography reflector system?
Yes. 1971 Wold Press Photo Award photographer, Wolfgang-Peter Geller, while on assignment was forced one day to sit at a hotel in Los Angeles due to windy weather. Though the sunlight was beautiful, the equipment at the time made it impossible to capture images on the beach and the downtime became costly. The only alternative were heavy plywood sheets with reflective foil, but that required additional professional staff and they are difficult to transport, let alone try to put one in your checked baggage at the airport.
So Geller, still at the hotel, designed the best possible foldable reflectors and diffusors that became the prototypes of today’s California Sunbounce photography reflector system—right there in the hotel, on a stormy day the reflectors were born and saved the shoot.
For decades as a professional photographer, Geller traveled nine months per year, so he knows a photographer’s needs whether they travel to locations by car or plane. The California Sunbounce system is proven worldwide everyday by thousands of photographers on assignment. Still today, as the director of California Sunbounce, Geller works closely with his professional staff to research and develop new products that make photography better for all photographers, now and in the future.
Why is the Sunbounce Sun-Mover called Sun-Mover?
Very simple: It moves the sun. Admittedly, the sun moves on its own, or to be scientifically correct: The earth revolves around the sun. But that is too much information.
What we need to know is that the sun moves from east to west. Unfortunately, not every subject is aligned along this axis – not to mention the fact that the height is not always ideal. So what the Sun Mover does is “move” the sun rays to where the radiance is needed for perfectly enhanced lighting of the subject.
It does not matter to the Sun Mover whether the sun is shining at full width or too brightly. The patented design of the Sun Mover enables the user to soften the sunlight by using the side grip to bend the Sun Mover out a little, creating a convex surface. If the sunlight should be reflected on the subject more like a spotlight, move the grip in lightly, forming a concave reflective surface. For the sun itself, convex and concave are foreign terms.
If you simply want to divert the light because it is coming from the wrong direction, the Sun Mover stays flat and directs the sun where you need it.
All of the Sun Movers offer 2-in-1 functionality. The back is always white, providing neutral light projection.
With the new Sunbounce tight-fit-screens, the Sun Movers are even more versatile. They are stretched over the existing Sun Mover like a second skin. The perfect tension of the Sun Mover transfers 1:1 to the tight-fit-screen, delivering ideal results every time. There’s no comparison to the so-called 5-in-1 reflectors on the market.
Why no Velcro fasteners?
After thorough research, Wolfgang-Peter Geller and his staff at California Sunbounce determined Velcro fasteners can’t support the tension created by the fabric screens and frames of the Sunbounce system. Similar to the tension found on drum membranes, Velcro couldn’t do the task; besides, have you ever tried to remove sand and fuzz from Velcro? While Velcro has its purposes, it’s not intended for the Sunbounce way.
Can I wash my California Sunbounce photography reflector fabric screen?
Yes you can wash the handmade photography reflector fabric screens. Use the lowest temperature setting (max. 20°C or 68°F) on the delicate cycle. Once finished, let the fabric screens air dry. If you must use a dryer, use only the “cold” setting, no heat. Some of the newness will be gone, however you’ll now have a “seasoned” fabric screen with softer light as some of the metallic particles can wash off the surface with each wash.
Why a reflector, why not flash?
Camera flash units, like speedlights or on camera flash, are extremely small, thus the light they produce is specular and harsh. Camera flash is direct light on to the subject, thus the light quality is hard. While there are many camera flash light modifiers, most are still small in relationship to your subject. With a California Sunbounce photography reflector you actually illuminate your subject with the sweeter light quality of reflected light. The reflected light can also come from your camera flash, simply point the flash into the Sunbounce reflector by hand or attach your camera flash to the optional Sunbounce extendable flash-bracket.
Handheld or tripod-mounted reflector?
I have a California Sunbounce with a zebra/white screen. I have a very good assistant who can use it perfectly. I would, however, like to have him do something else. Can I mount the Sunbouncer on a tripod?
Yes, of course – you can attach your reflector to a tripod using practically any standard adapters – although optimally with the Sunbounce Grip-Head Enterprise. Your assistant will have more time for other tasks.
The sandbags slip off the tripod legs, what should I do?
I fondly remember when the good old C-stands (Hollywood tripods) still had horizontal legs and the sandbags could just be laid over the legs like a saddle. Tripods today are lighter, thankfully, but have slanted legs that always cause the sandbags to slip down. I’ve cut my finger so many times trying to squash the bag onto the horizontal brace. Any tips?
Don’t cut up your hands anymore! Of course California Sunbounce has the right solution for this problem with modern tripods. We’ve developped a small belt that goes around the central pole, from which the individual California Sunbounce Sandbags can be hung, using carabiners.
Sand in the gears?
I have a little tip for you: Whenever I work in the sand, ie. on the beach, I always have problems with sand in the tripod legs and threads. Now I use the empty water bottles or pop cans that are always lying around. Another advantage is that the tripod legs don’t sink into the sand anymore.
Great tip; here’s another: when you work in large villas with delicate floors, use old tennis balls (cross-cut tennis balls) with a cross cut into them, so you can stick the tripd legs in them. Works on the beach, too!
Diffuser / Sun Swatter, what's the difference?
A photographer friend of mine recommended that I purchase a SUN SWATTER. What is the difference between my diffuser and the legendary SUN SWATTER?
Your diffuser is great for soften severe sunlight, but uses two tripods. If you need more distance from your model to incorporate more landscape into the image, or your model wants to move, we recommend the Sun-Swatter, the “Shade on a stick.” Just imagine being able to use a diffuser the size of your Sunbounce Pro with a long boom-stick (extendable/telecoping pole) over your model. The Sun-Swatter is framed on only three sides. The front side is open and doesn’t cast a shadow!
What does Sun-Swatter mean?
Sun-Swatter? Weird name, what does it mean?
We took the name Sun-Swatter from the American term fly swatter, because it looks similar with its long boom-stick and it gets rid of light, just like a fly swatter gets rid of flies. So, the translation* would be: Sun-Swatter. Additionally, it’s as light as a feather. It is so uncomplicated and effective as a fly swatter. However, the Pro, for example, offers a 2.5m2 surface area – and that’s really large!
Why use a diffusor?
I already have a reflector. Why should I additionally get a diffuser?
Your reflector sends the light in the right direction. But the sun will likely still shine unwanted light on your model. Reduce this direct light with a diffuser. A diffuser creates fabulous base-light. You can work just as sensibly outdoors as in the studio. Also use the usually impossible noon sun for your own purposes!
How do I get/achieve softer light?
The metal coating of my silver Sunbouncer reflects a lot of light. I think that’s probably what most photographers really want, but my personal style requires reduced light (I love my good old Gold/Silver reflector, dirty as it is.) Do you also make softer ones?
You can always use the other side. It’s usually white, the reverse of the ‘black’ reflector? is light grey. That produces much softer light. The best solution in your case is to wash your favourite Gold/Silver reflector in cold water, without detergent or bleach and let it air dry. It loses a certain amount of its metal particles – depending on its age. The result looks horrible, like a mangy dog – but it will produce the most enchanted light for you. Wonderfully tender and soft – my favorite screen. Or clip fabric or curtain material over the metal layer with the tuning clips. That also makes the light softer.