Reader B.Stevens has a cool idea for the cheapest most versatile ring light ever (now we have shown some ringlights before, but not that easy to make). The image on the left is using this ringlight (best viewed large). The idea is quite simple: Take a huge apple monitor. If you can get your hands on a 24 incher, you are on the right track. Tape some patterned paper on the monitor. Bring your 1.8 or 2.8 lens and your 1600ISO low noise camera and you are good to go. HEYTHEREWAITAMINUTE you said cheap. So, let me go through this method step by step and see where you can reduce your costs. Click to continue ›
Sometimes you want to make a diagram of your photo session. (OK, sometimes you don't, but sometimes you do). I, for example, am going to use studio lighting diagrams for explaining about low key and high key studio setups. If you are like me, with two left hands in all that related to sketching, you are in a tight spot. When I draw (just like when I write), only one person in the world can understand what I wrote. Sadly, I have not met him yet.
So the solution to my situation is to use lighting diagrams "out of the box" with no handwriting involved what so ever. Ahhhhh.... sounds like heaven, right?
Great, how do you get one? Both Rui and Strobist have pointed out two great sources for creating lighting diagrams. One requires Photoshop and the other one is online. I'm going to show both. Click to continue ›
After discussing contrast at a very top level view, I would like to introduce two twins, closely related to contrast - High Key and Low Key.
Both High Key images and Low Key images make an intensive use of contrast, but in a very different way. When approaching a shoot of a dramatic portrait, the decision of making it a High Key, Low Key or "just" a regular image has great impact about the mood that this picture will convey. While High Key images are considered happy and will show your subject as a tooth-paste poster; Low Key portraits are dramatic and convey a lot of atmosphere and tension. Let's explore those two dramatic lighting alternatives. Click to continue ›
Gridspot (or grid) is a studio accessory that you can attach to your flash. When the flash fires through the grid, the spread of the light rays is limited. The effect you get is very similar to the effect achieved by a snoot, but light more controlled and really hits a small surface. You often want to use a snoot or a grid for avoiding light spillage when you are setting up you back light.
The inspiration for this article came from a strobist article that shows how to make a cardboard gridspot. I thought I can improve it by making it out of plastic known as coroplast. Click to continue ›
I've been using feedburner's services for a while now and I am quite happy. The service allows to customize RSS feeds with goodies like links to del.icio.us digg and even add my logo to the feed. Those links will make your life easier when you will try to remember "where was this great article about contrast?" some years from now. Click to continue ›
In the last few weeks I've covered the basic exposure controls like aperture and shutter speed. I've also discussed the concept of depth of field as an important aspect of the subject in a picture. Continuing with the Back to Basics series, it is time to explore another important aspect of the picture - contrast. Contrast is the difference in tone in your picture. Specifically the difference between the brightest colors in the pictures (called highlights) to the darkest colors in the picture (called shadows). Usually talking about contrast goes hand in hand with talking about hard light and soft light. Click to continue ›
Remember those old mice you use to have before computer mice became monsters with twenty five buttons, side buttons, rollers, sliders and what not.
Dave Schlier had a spare oldie (mouse that is) that he recycled into a shutter release cable. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think that clicking a mouse is the most affective way to take a shot. But if that what it takes for you computer addicts to take the camera out of the bag, my task here on earth is completed.
One of the oldest lighting techniques in the book is called "Three Point Lighting". It is vastly used in studio photography and by snobby fashion photographers. It is also a very good basis for any portrait photograph. In this technique you use three lights:
The first light is a key light. Usually this is the strongest light and this light sets the lighting of the scene.
The second light is called a fill light, this light helps fill the shadows that the main light casts.
The last light is called a backlight (because it comes from the back), and is used to create a contour and separation. It is common to use a snoot or a gridspot on the backlight to avoid a spill.
The guys at mediacollege have created a nice illustration and explanation of that basic technique. They have also created a cool flash simulator (After writing this, I've noticed that this is a pan, so no credits here. Kudos for the great pan) that can help understand the concept of a three point lighting. Or you can just click the various lights and enjoy seeing how the model reacts to each type of light. The flash simulator is also good way to understand key light and backlight in general.
While in general the guys (or girls, I don't know who works there) deal with video, the lighting stuff is great for still photographers as well.
Why spend a fortune on an on-camera softscreen diffuser? (OK, 9 dollars are hardly a fortune, yet...). This guest post by Huy Hoang shows you how to build one for just a few cents. (Mental note: make a DIY manual on how to reduce the cost of a Nikon D2X by the same ratio). Huy is a member of DIYPhotography.net's instructibles group - check it out. The idea is similar to the one explained on the speed light mounted softbox article, but takes half the time and can be used on a built in flash.
Hold on!! Why would you want a softscreen in the first place? I can think of two reasons: number one - the build in flash is soooooo small, it is a very hard light source. And 2 - it can not be bounced. However - you can get more out of it. Just to get your appetite going, here is what you'll get when you are done Click to continue ›
This great studio ringlight tutorial is a guest post by Carl Edouard Denis from www.cedenis.com, who aside from building monster studio lights, and taking pictures, also DJs. A jack of all trades.
Let me start off by listing all the items you will need to make your light. If you are a regular DIYfer or tinkerer, you may already have many of the items on this list. Click to continue ›