The Standard 3-Point Lighting Technique

3-point-lightingOne 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.

Related links:
- Media college lighting tutorials
- Flash Simulator
- Homemade snoot

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DIY built-in pop-up flash diffuser (soft screen)

pop-up-difuserWhy 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 [Read more...]

Studio lighting – Homemade Softbox Ring For SB or Flash Speedlight

DIY flahs ringTim from Chicago was using translucent umbrellas to get diffusion out of his flash speedlights. This was his home grown studio. When he switched to softboxes, the cost of the flash adjustment ring drove him to… Build a cheap flash ring on his own (this studio lighting DIY is not for the faint of heart – it uses a vise and a sledge). When not building stuff Timothy Witkowski also shoot sports. Here is the deal:

I use my Nikon CLS sb800-sb600 in almost every venue that I shoot. I recently switched from translucent umbrellas to using them with a softbox. I bought a generic 36” softbox with a universal ring that I paid I think $25 for. I found a morris ring at b&h for about $60 + shipping which was nothing more then a standard ring and a l bracket. So I went to the garage to make my own. [Read more...]

DIY – Using Clamps As Flash Light Stands

Using Clamps As Flash Light StandsAs part of the light stand frenzy that’s been going on here, I thought I’d introduce you to another way of placing a flash on location in a cheap and fast way. I learned this hack from David hobby at strobist and been grateful ever since. The idea is quite simple. It is similar to the one displayed in the Spatula article (gotta love this word – spatula…), only instead of using a spatula, I am using clamps. And hey! It was from the same trip to the hardware store. [Read more...]

DIY – hacking the sync outled for an ebay remote

Nikon sb800I finally got my slave flash from eBay. This is extra cool, because unlit now I had to choose between two alternatives – none was giving me the flexibility that I needed for my studio shots. (If you are in to optical, here is a cool slave that you can build @ home)

Studio Slave Flash Option #1 was to use my Nikon SB-800 speedlight set on Slave mode, utilizing Nikon’s CLS (Creative Light System). The benefits of this mode were exact flash output (Those guys at Nikon really knows what they are doing). The down side here was that I could only use one flash at a time and that I had an annoying “shutter lag” until the camera and the flash did their negotiation thingy. Now that was sad, because I often needed more then one speedlight, and did not enjoy the lag at all.

So Studio Slave Flash Option #2 came into play, which was setting all my flashes with sync cord. That was nice – I could hook up 2 or flashes and had no lag at all. The trouble here was that sync cord is A – expensive and B tends to get in your way. For awhile I use option #2.5 – One speedlight with sync cord and the other on optical flash (I set the Nikon SB-28 on sync cord, and used the built in “stupid slave” capabilities of the SB800).

I was not satisfied. So I got on eBay and got me a radio slave flash. The model I got is called RF604 and has 4 channels. Shipping was fast and I was satisfied. I also ordered an extra receiver, to attach to my second flash. [Read more...]

DIY – Homemade Speedlite “Snoot”

homemade_snootThis guest post was written by Leann Wrightsman, a photo DIY-er extraordinaire. This snoot making article has one of the best effort to result ratio. You usually use a snoot when you want only a small part of a scenario lighten, while keeping the rest of the scenario light free see the picture at the end of this article.

In this article Leann Wrightsman will show you how to make a “Snoot” for your speedlight flash with easy to find items you may even have around the house! [Read more...]

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...]