Studio Lighting – Snooted Flood Light

diy_snooted_lightReader Michael Lim (zac08) came up with a cool snooted flood light. It combines the concept of a home made snoot with a clamp. The design is similar to a mixup of both, but uses a florescent light instead of a flash.

The bonus here that there is almost no assembly/DIY-ing required; it comes ready from the shop. As for hacking the right materials, the snoot used is a Lay’s Potato Chips pack. (Empty of course, lighting is tasty). Here is what Zac has to say; [Read more...]

Studio Lighting – Great Way To Build a Ringlight

ringlight_on_tripodReader Bankara has followed up on the cheap ringlight article with another very affordable ringlight. Not as cheap as the one you can get from your LCD, but still way cheaper then the ones you get in stores. He has posted an instructable on how to build one of those monsters babies.

One of the cool features about this particular ring light is that it is collapsible. Yap! It folds in half. Simple math brings me to the conclusion that I’ll only have to defend its existence in my home half of the time. (The other spare half will go toward explaining the wife where her living room went). [Read more...]

Studio Lighting – The Cheapest Ring Light Ever

cheapest_ring_lightReader 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. [Read more...]

Studio Lighting – Lighting Diagrams, Planning and Explaining

lighting_diagram 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. [Read more...]

Lighting – High Key and Low Key

high-key-low-keyAfter 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. [Read more...]

Studio Lighting – Homemade Gridspot

gridspotGridspot (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. [Read more...]

Recycling Project – Trigger Your Camera With A Mouse

mouse_shutter_releaseRemember 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.

Here is how to make one of those cool mice (of course you can always build a traditional release cable): [Read more...]

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

[Read more...]

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’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...]