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April 27, 2022

The Art of Reflective Light

There’s a simple method to “turn on the lights” in any room without having to find the light switch. It’s called reflective lighting, and it can greatly improve your building searches. Reflective light occurs when a light source is pointed at any light-colored surface such as a bounce board or reflector. When the light bounces off the surface, it causes a larger spill than its original source, filling in dark shadows and creating an even flow of light. It can be used in conjunction with slicing the pie as well as dynamic entry.

Utilizing reflective light is simple, and here’s how we can use it to take advantage of our often-unknown environment on the job. The color of the ceiling is white in the majority of rooms we enter. We can use that as an advantage in a similar way to how photographers reflect light. One of the most common things you’ll see in a photographer’s kit is a reflector. A white ceiling or wall can serve as a reflector to bounce a wide spill of light that fills the room. Rather than pointing our light sporadically all over the room, we can point it up and get an effect similar to turning the lights on. We can now overcome our tunnel-vision barrier of following our beam’s hot spot and begin to identify movement.

Once you pick up movement or a person, you now have the option of continuing to monitor the whole room with reflective light, or threat-focusing our light directly on the subject in question. You can still pie a room, then move to reflective light to better receive the new space and watch for threats. 

Tunnel vision can be a real problem with traditional scanning. Our eyes like to follow lasers, and just like the laser, our eyes will submit to tunnel vision with the flashlight beam. It’s also harder to ID movement while your light itself is moving. You can even create false movement by shifting shadows of objects in the room.  This creates a lot of extra information for your mind to sort through. Reflective light allows us to gather a lot more information without constantly reshaping the environment.

Reflective light doesn’t stop at handheld flashlights. There are products designed to assist you with reflective light like the Thyrm Variarc™. The Variarc allows you to angle your ballistic helmet light upward and get reflective light pouring all over the room with white light and IR illuminators.

If you’re new to reflective light, give it a try. Let us know how you feel about the technique in the comments.