DIY – The Plaster Spatula Lighting Stand

DIY - The Plaster Spatula Lighting StandOne of the challenging lighting setups that I have encountered deals with setting up a lighting environment in small spaces. Spaces like working dens, children rooms and offices. Those places are sometimes dark and not well lit. The solution for this problem is simple – use flashes. One or two hot shoe flashes can easily give you the light you need. For creativity sake, you would like to take those flashes off camera like one of my favorite sites suggests. So where will you place those flashes? Obviously, you can not use a lighting stand – there is hardly any place for you, let alone your big lighting stands.

So what would you have in abundance in a working den? Let’s see…. If you’ve ever been in a lawyer office, you can’t escape the answer – they have books. Shelves and shelves of books. Do they actually read them? I don’t know. Can you, as a photographer use them? Heck yes!

In the following article, I will show you how to create a simple, fast to build, cool looking lighting stand from a plaster spatula and some books.

The first thing you will need is a plaster spatula, those come in really cheap. You can get a metal one or a plastic on, and there is no need to buy the high end spatulas, just buy the crummiest, cheapest, made in Taiwan most suitable spatula you can find.

You will also need an umbrella holder (AKA swivel). Or if you don’t have one a long 1/4″ bolt and nut. In general 1/4″ bolts are something usful to have around the house. [Read more...]

DIY – The Panorama Head El Cheapo!

panoramic headHow to take good panoramas? Sounds simple, right? Take some shots with some overlapping landscape, go to your favorite stitching software, and stitch them up (I like panorama tools AKA PT, and autostich AKA autostich). Right? Not exactly…

If you’ve done a panorama or two, you must have noticed those annoying vertical stitching lines. Some are caused by wide angle distortion, some due to Polarizer filter that stayed on, and some are the “software’s fault”. Allot of those annoying stitching lines are caused due to something called parallax. In layman’s terms Parallax means that your camera’s focal plan does not “sit” (or as Neo would say – is “not in one”) with rotations axis of your camera. confused? Here is a great article to explain this. So if you want to get professional panoramas you need to do something about it; This something is called Using the Nodal Point (is it me, or does this term sounds a bit weird). Curious? here is how you find your Nodal Point. Of course DIYPhotography.net is not the first to find this Nodal thing. you can always get some cheap accessories for panorama at Manfrotto. Or you can try and build one yourself, just like Stefan Lindgren – DIY-er extraordiner. [Read more...]

Flash photography – ACE of bounce

ace of bounceStep right up, young man, my lady. Come photographers – You are about to see some card magic that will leave you amazed. This very special card magic was thought to me by the Harry Potter himself ancient wizards of Tibet, passed on from generation to generation (from when flash photography was invented). You may say it is a slight of hands, an illusions of the eye, distraction of the mind. But I tell you NO, my friends this is true magic. It is called “The ACE of Bounce”.

Now, does anyone in the audience has a card deck, any card deck will do. Yes sir, step right up. Please tell me where did you by this deck? At your usual K-mart, I see. is there anything special about this very regular Bicycle deck of card? No you say, well let us see. [Read more...]

Studio DIY – Softboxing The World – A Home Grown Softbox

DIY studio softboxA softbox is a studio thingy that professional photographers use on their studios. Why? for a couple of reasons.

For one thing, softboxes create a smoother light – less hotspots (yea – those are the bright, burnt our noses in your photos), anther is smoother shadows. Most professional models are shot with softboxes to get that glamorous, look. Softboxes are also great for macro shots – they produce even diffused light.

The only trouble starts when you head down the road to the store and want to get one of them nice wonders. They usually cost something like a small county side house. In this article I will demonstrate how to build a homemade studio softbox for just a few $$. [Read more...]

Do it yourself – Project Lightbox

diy lightboxPedro G. Dias came up with a way to make one sturdy light box. This article will tell the Story of The Making of the Lightbox.

So This item is all about how information traverses the web, and how by mere coincidence, Pedro got to know about this light box from a fried who got it from a web site, and hoe finally I got the mail that tells me to post the story… here is how it goes:

I’ve been drooling for a lightbox for a long time now, especially with winter coming, and sun going hide&seek up here in Norway. A good friend of mine recommended a website where a very nice guy had made a project out of it, so I thought I’d try it out for myself, and here are some of the highlights of that feat. A big cheers to the author of this page for letting me know how easy this is to do. The concept and cudos for this goes to him. [Read more...]

DIY – Somthing About Omnibounce, Tzatziki And Kids Phone Calls

omni bounceIn my bouncing flash article I mentioned something called Omni-Bounce. The Omni-Bounce is a Stofen product that enables you to better diffuse your flash.

Now, what exactly does it mean – better diffuse your flash? Well, when you use a flash attached to the hot shoe you basically have two choices, direct flash and bounced flash. Direct means that your flash is aimed directly at your subject, and bounced means that the flash is directed at a surface other then your subject (say a wall), and your subject gets the light that “bounces” off that surface.

What happens if you need both? This is why the guys at Stofen came up with the Omni-Bounce (or omnibounce). it is build in a way that throws some of the light upwards and some of the light sideways (well, so does a Nylon bag …). But if you need to go portable, a bag can hardly be a solution. The omnibounce is also very popular with party photographers. [Read more...]

Super easy hardware store light-backdrop stand

diy_hardware_store_light_stand Tim Boesenkool has sent this awesome idea on how you can make a DIY backdrop stand that reaches all the way to the ceiling, without getting in a fight with your wife.

I have two sturdy light stands but with the work I’m doing it isn’t really enough, and I’m tired of propping reflectors on wobbly chairs etc. Because I don’t have excess room I needed something with a small footprint as well.

So cruising around the hardware store I discovered a great cheap, no assembly required solution and I have two stands for under 50 bucks. [Read more...]

DIY – Reverse Macro Ring

reverse macro ringAs everybody knows, macro lens are expensive. Daniel Kyaw has a great way of creating a macro reverse ring for practically nothing.

Reverse rings can be used to shoot macro shot using non-macro lens like 50mm. We can buy original reverse ring from dealer, the price is ranging from 30~40 US$. And normally they do not have stock in hand since this is slow moving stock item.

Well, so I want to share my idea with you to make your own reverse ring from your old/unused accessories which will cost you about 3-4 US$. [Read more...]

Lighting tip – 4 ways to bounce a flash

As you probably can tell from the lighting articles on this site, I am not a great fan of on camera flash. The thing is that you don’t always have a choice. Sometimes you need to be both portable and have that extra few stops that a flash can produce. In that situation it is best to have a flash that can be attached to your hot-shoe mount. If you get really stuck, you can also use the pop-flash (AKA build in flash), but by doing this you are stepping to the realm of red-eyes, flat pictures and burnt people.

The best way to use an external flash is by triggering it by remote. (see the strobist for some great techniques on off camera flash use), but even if you get as creative as the strobster, sometimes you just have to have the flash on camera. For example: You are shooting a wedding and only have one or two flash units. Or is you are on the move along with your subject, and cant take the time to set up. So here are four simple ways to bounce your flash:

The way allot of photographers go is not to bounce at all. They place a stofen (A.K.A omni-bounce) on the flash, set the head to 45 degrees and shoot like there is no tomorrow. Now, the way the stofen works is it spreads dome of the light forward and bounce some of the light of the ceiling. so it only works if you have a nice, relatively low, white ceiling. This is considered a good solution by many photographer.

Why bounce?

  • when you bounce your flash, the light is coming to your subject in a diffused way. you will have less hot-spots (hot-spot is that shiny light at the tip of the subject’s nose that just cries for attention).
  • Red eye will not be an issue since the light is coming far off the subject-to-lens axis.
  • you will avoid those harsh shadows.
  • Today’s modern DSLRs and flash units can calculate the light power you will need for the bounce, so you don’t have to make recurring measures to correct for the bounce.

Now I’m going to recycle some pics from the lightsphere article to demonstrate what happens when you use direct flash. when you use a bounce that “effect” is gone.

 

direct flash

 

 

Why not bounce?

There are three main reasons why you would avoid bouncing your flash:

  • Nothing to bounce from – if you are in an outdoor location, and there are no white walls, ceiling, canopy of people dressed in white
  • Loss of light – you when you bounce your flash the light that your flash provides, need to travel further. remember that geometry class where the teacher says that the sum each two sides of the triangle is bigger then the third side? So light has to travel further. Also the bounce itself is taking some light. Even a completely white wall eats up a bit of light.
  • smoke! smoke is the enemy of flash. if you are in a smoky area (or under the control of an 80′s smoke machines obsessed DJ), and you try to bounce you might end up with a big picture of white. That happens because the smoke reflects the light. If the light has to go through allot of smoke you will get a white wall.

OK, after we covered the PROs and CONs, here are some flash bouncing techniques you can use. You can use those even if you have no accessories. I am assuming, however, that you can tilt and swivel your flash – most flash units like Nikon’s SB-800, SB-28, or Canon’s 550EX or Vivitar’s 285 can both tilt and swivel.

Bounce 1 – off the ceiling

This is the most trivial bounce of them all. To do the ceiling-bounce, just tilt your flash to the ceiling (or at a ~75 degrees angle) and take the picture. The ceiling will act as a huge reflector, bouncing the light softly on your subject. If you are using TTL, eTTL, iTTL or heckTTL, the flash will take care of the output power to compensate for the loss of light. The con of this method is that you might get some shadows below the eyes, since all the light is coming from a high place, this is why you may want to consider the “reverse ceiling bounce”.

Bounce 2 – The reverse ceiling bounce

In this method you tilt your flash 45 degrees backwards, so you are actually flashing the wall and ceiling behind you. The ceiling and wall will give you great diffusion, with a “softbox” even bigger then the ceiling from “bounce 1″, and the light coming back from the wall will take care of eye shadows. The big tow minuses for this method is that you need a wall behind you and that you loose a ton of light, that just goes floating around the room. A personal TIP – take a quick peek behind you before shooting – just to make sure that aunt Jessi is not getting a load of flash in her new contacts.

Bounce 3 – The wall bounce (also known as the side bounce)

In this method, you swivel your flash 90 degrees sideways and bounce of the nearest wall. Again you get a wall-sized softbox. The nice thing about this method is that the light is directional – you will get great depth and character. Can’t find a wall? look to the other side, still can’t find a wall? try the person bounce.

See the bellow picture for a wall bounce (see other picture of my daughter in the children photography article)

side/wall  bounce

Bounce 4 – bounce off a person

I got this one from Eric Vichich, and have been using it with great joy. This is good when you are out doors and you find someone who is waring white T-shirt. swivel the flash head to point to the person and shoot. It is best to use when there is still some day light, other wise the Ad-hock reflector person might get a full load of flash in his eye, and change from a friendly human reflector to a not so friendly red-eyed bull.

Well there you have it. happy bouncing. you can look at the lightsphere article for some bouncing diagrams.

Got some other neat flash techniques? share them on the comments.

Studio Lighting – Instant Lightsphere – The Emergency Diffuser

emergency softboxSo, I was trying to make a nice lighting for a still life picture I was taking. Sadly, I had none of my usual crap around. I was at lost. Suddenly, I heard a distant voice, telling me to to try something I’ve never done before and to try some new cheap way to take the picture, also to try and keep it innovative, and low cost (shuold be read “I have no money for gear, so I cant afford the stuff I really want).

This is the time to take a short break, and talk about that distant voice. It is not uncommon for me to hear voices in my head – nothing big, no one has ever told me to climb a water tower and go postal. yet… It’s just your usual voices – “you can snooze for 5 more minutes, the meeting will be delayed anyway“; “let Liry (my daughter) have another chocolate bar, mommy wont care“; you know, the usual things…. lately I’ve been hearing a new voice. In fact this voice is so load that it even dumps some of the older voices that tells me to buy more stuff to complete my poor photo gear collection. [Read more...]