Bullet Photography At Home

Bullet Photography At HomeMost photographers have seen some of Dr. Harold Edgerton’s work like a bullet shooting through an apple or a bullet splitting a playing card. Back in the 1960′s when Edgerton was taking these types of photos it was quite revolutionary. To take these kinds of photographs Dr. Edgerton had to first invent the modern camera flash. Today duplicating these photos is feasible for just about any amateur photographer who is willing to spend a little time understanding some common high speed photography techniques and some money to buy some specialized equipment. However, the really exciting idea isn’t reproducing his iconic photographs, but having people take creative new high speed photos.

Bullet Photography At HomeBullet Photography At Home
© MIT 2010. Courtesyof MIT Museum

This article is going to show you how to use the Camera Axe and it’s projectile sensor to take some of your own amazing high speed photographs of objects being hit by bullets. At first it may seem that there are only a few objects to shoot, but once you start getting into this field of photography it seems like every trip to the grocery store, farmers market, dollar store, or yard sale becomes an expedition to find new targets. [Read more...]

Build A “Westcott Spiderlite TD3″ Backlight Kit

Build A "Westcott Spiderlite" TD3 Backlight KitI love strobes, anyone who reads this blog knows it. But more and more I find myself attracted to the lure of continuous light. No pop blinks, no need for modeling light, and pupils are smaller. Kirk Tuck has a post about continuous lights with LEDs. Similar, not as intense but way cheaper solution is using CFL bulbs for lighting.

In the following post photographer Tony Zeh will walk us through building a CFL driven Westcott Spiderlite TD3 Backlight Kit. This backlight is part of his CFL based studio – check the last picture for more info about that. [Read more...]

DIY Friction Based Follow Focus For 6 Bucks

IMG_1549In the following post, Eric Au will share his making of  A DIY follow focus mechanism. We did feature a KNE’X follow focus before, however, this one mounts on a rig., and has a very pro look to it. While the specifics of this build are oriented towards a specific HD-DSLR mount, the concept and process can be adopted to other rigs by changing some of the measurements.

Bear in mind that this project does require some uncommon hardware tools, yet considering the price drop, you may want to ask your neighborhood iron man for some assistance. …and The floor is all yours Eric. [Read more...]

The Bokeh Masters Kit – Now At Theaters Near You

Bokeh Masters Kit At Theaters Near YouHere are some happy news for the Bokeh inclined photographers out there. The Bokeh Masters Kit is now available for purchase at online stores: B&H and Photojojo.

I will still be selling the kits via the Bokeh Masters Kit site, however, if you are living in the US, you’ll probably get better shipping terms from one of those folks. (Yes, Another shot of making the holidays deadline :)

If you are wondering what the heck a Bokeh Masters Kit is, check out the Phoblographer thorough 3 parts review here, it has every single details about the kit, and some nifty sample images and videos.

Actually, the video after the jump is taken from that review. It is kinda interesting, because when I started to develop the BMK, HDDSLRs were not that common yet. So it gives me a nice buzz to see the kit used in ways I did not envision. [Read more...]

The 7$ Huge (Huge!) DIY Beauty Dish

The 7$ Huge (Huge!) Beauty DishThe $7 beauty dish emerged out of a desire to experiment on the cheap, to see if I could duplicate the effect of a real beauty dish and see if it was worth buying one. Here’s my disclaimer: These are no substitute for real beauty dishes and the details involve more brute force than calculated physics.

My project followed a surprising amount of noodling around in Ikea, Home Depot and Target looking for the essentials — something that would let me fire my Nikon SB800 flash into a reflective bowl and direct it toward a subject. I don’t know if the final solution is brilliance or BS — I’m sure you’ll all let me know.

There are four pieces to this project

101/365 Bigger, better beauty dish

  • A disposable clear plastic salad bowl ($2 at Smart & Final, our local warehouse grocery chain, but you should be able to find them anywhere that sells picnic or catering supplies). A wider and shallower bowl will give you a broader light source and potentially smoother highlights on your subject, but you don’t want a bowl so big it will interfere with mounting the dish on a flash unit.
  • Silver (or white) spray paint ($5 a can at Home Depot; will cover many bowls if you have the need)
  • Heavyweight paper, preferably glossy, or some other reflective material (potentially free)
  • Clear package-sealing tape

Step 1: Spray the bowl

Spray and reflect

This is pretty straightforward, but a light touch will help here. You want a thin, continuous coat of paint on the interior of the bowl. If you add a second coat before the first has dried (like I did), the paint will drip. (Paint pooled in the base of my first dish and took two days to dry.)

Silver paint is more efficient than white, but you may get shinier highlights. (I lose about 2 stops off my flash power using the dish.) You could opt for other metallic shades — gold or bronze — but they’re probably better for photographing jewelry than people.

Step 2: Measure and cut

Measure and cut

This is a key part of the project and the easiest to mess up. You most likely want the light source in the dead center of the dish, so you need to measure and mark the point if there’s not a plastic dot there already. What you want to do is cut an H-shape in the bowl big enough to fit the head of your flash unit through if the flaps are folded into the bowl. If you do this right and the plastic of the bowl is flexible enough, the flaps themselves will provide enough friction to hold the bowl on the flash. (If not, you can secure the bowl by wrapping a rubber band or tape around the flaps to hold them against the flash unit. You can get fancier by using Velcro, or you can just tape the body of your flash against the bowl to hold it on.)

Step 3: Making the Reflector

All you have now is a leaky bowl strapped to your flash unit. What you need is something to bounce the light of your flash back into the bowl, which will then reflect it forward. Early on I had envisioned using a clear plastic cup as both the reflector and mount — either spraying the bottom of the cup silver or gluing on a mirror. My final approach to this was partially driven by my solution to mounting the reflector — clear package-sealing tape — which meant that the reflector had to be lightweight. On my first dish, this reflector was a thin plastic water dish sprayed silver; on the second, it’s just a circle cut out of white poster board. If your salad bowl comes with a lid, just cut out a circle and spray that.

A couple of things to consider before cutting your reflector: The wider it is, the better it keeps the light from your flash head from splashing around your shooting environment. When the reflector is small, it can let light from the flash head hit the body or shoulders of your subject. But the wider the central reflector is the less space there is around the reflector for the dish to throw light forward. You might want to sketch the dimensions of your dish and calculate the minimum width with a ruler or just eyeball it.

One option: Cut the hole in the base of the dish big enough to hold the body of your flash rather than the head so you can put the flash head as close to the reflector as possible — assuming you’re handholding your flash or mounting it on either a light stand with a swivel mount or an extension arm.

Fold and embrace

Bottom view

Step 4: Attaching the reflector

The simplest solution — and one in keeping with the disposable nature of the bowl — was to just run a strip of clear strapping tape across the mouth of the bowl and sticking the reflector on the inside of it. No worries about gluing or taping a mount to the base of the dish, no light lost to another set of surfaces. (look closely for the tape running from top to bottom).

89/365 Return of the $7 beauty dish

What do you get when you put it all together? My smaller dish is 12″ across, weighs just less than 4 ounces and will fit on a flash mounted on a camera if you’re so inclined. My larger dish is 15.5″ across, weighs 7 ounces and is a bit harder to manage. If they blow away or get stepped on, no great loss — and if you decide the resulting look isn’t for you, you can still use the silver spray paint to turn last summer’s Super Soaker into a prop disintegrator.


A self-portrait done using the dishes

Beauty dish overkill

This guest post was written by Jeff Dillon. Jeff is an advanced amateur photographer in San Diego, California who alternates between spending far too much and far too little on photography equipment.

Use Light Stencils To Create Amazing Light Paintings

Be Free! As you may already be aware, light painting is the process of moving light sources around during a single exposure to create an overall shot. A more specific way to include light forms into a photo is with `light stencils’.

The light stencil itself is made up of two main components – the stencil image, and something to contain the light while you shoot that image. A shoebox works really well (with the stencil picture cut into the lid, and the box used to contain the light); or alternatively, a portable soft box could be used (with the stencil attached to the front of the soft box).

In this article, TigTab explains how to create a light stencil using a shoe box. [Read more...]

Manual Lens From PVC Pipes

Manual Lens From PVC PipesThere are proven ways to become a professional photographer, ask Zack Arias. Looks like building your own lenses (which we have done before) ranks pretty high. #3 in fact. And I do want to be a professional photographer. I want it real bad. REAL BAD!

So I looked for the cheapest way to come up with a lens like this. Antonio Montesinos was kind enough to allow me to feature his lens building tut on DIYP. In Your face Zack, I m gong pro for a Dollar fifty. [Read more...]

The Real Story Behind Starbucks – Getting The Perfect White Balance

Emergency ExpodiscI know what you’re thinking. Starbucks was made so you can slowly sip your hot Lattes and cappuccino while your army of photo assistants are setting up your clever array of strobes, monolights, “kino-flo”s and LED panels.

Actually, this is all an elaborate pre-show so when they come shouting that “the sky is falling” and “how the heck are you going to find the white balance for this mix of lights” you can smile and put down your Latte.

Then you take the plastic cup of, place it on the lens and show how you cleverly created an instant Expodisc out of thin air. Ha! White Balance nailed.

Emergency Expodisc

Steve Bennett‘s Starbucks Coffee Cup Emergency Expodisc, with how to instructions. (Surprisingly, the other instant Expodisc is also coffee related. I wonder if there is a great scheme here). [Read more...]

We Don’t Need No Light Meter,

We Dont Need No Light Meter,when I was your age we used to squint/half squint to measure light!

OK, I am not that old. Actually my father didn’t even take photographs beyond the average vacation on the beach photo.

Yet, there are times when you have to calculate exposure manually, or even harder, calculate flash settings. Mixing flash and ambient is no rocket science – to quote a certain DH. However, it seems that one of the issues that is hard on everyone is when to start in terms of aperture, shutter speed and flash output.

Photographer Domjan Svilkovic came up with a nifty little card that can help you do just that using the ultra highly modifiable yet super cheap YN460 strobe. I would go and say that it may be considered a printable flash meter. Seems that the low price is driving those to be very popular.

The card and instructions after the jump. [Read more...]