Printing The Flash Mounted homemade DIY Softbox

Studio Lighting - Flash Mounted homemade DIY SoftboxI got lots of comments and question asking how to print the flash mounted homemade diy softbox. Some readers have had trouble printing the diagram on multiple pages.

One of readers was kind enough to help me figure out why it was not printing on some computers. Are you having the same troubles? Do not despair.

It appears that the driver for the mdi format I was using to span the print over several pages is not installed by default when you install office. Look at this Microsoft article to learn how to install the driver for this file. [Read more...]

Altoids To The Rescue – The Minty Strobe

altoidsThere is some great stuff going on at instructables group. This fantastic group is a true demonstration of the DIY spirit that is behind this site. I have talked before on the subject of creating your own flash. In that article Avner Richard explained how to utilize xenon tubes to create some real Watts/Second power flashes. It is a great piece for the ones that are electrically capable.

If you are not an electrician and fear the high voltage involved, Martin (AKA PKM) has posted an Instructable just for you. [Read more...]

Lighting – Low key Lighting Setups

low_key_lightLast week I have talked about an important aspect of any picture – contrast. It was only natural to follow up with an article about low key and high lighting as both are tightly related to contrast.

After covering the definitions and some samples of High Key and Low key images, it is time to show some setups that will enable you to take High Key and Low Key pictures. I’ll start with Low Key images today and will follow soon with some High Key setups. [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 – 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...]

Back to Basics – Contrast

contrastIn 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. [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...]