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...]

The Complete Guide to Children Photography – Part II

children_photography part 2If you got here, you must have read the first part of the complete guide to children photography. By now you should know that the key element to your success is having fun – both by you and by the kid. In this part I will talk about some more tips and techniques for children photography, but this time from a more “technical” angle. Did I say technical? Nothing to worry, I am going to keep it simple. [Read more...]

The Complete Guide to Children Photography – Part I

children_photography_exOK, to be honest I must start this “children photography” tutorial with two disclaimers:

Disclaimer #1: There is no “complete guide to children photography” there are only bits and pieces of information. When shooting my (or other’s) kids, I try to look at the session (or occasional snapshot session) as a new, and put most of what I know behind me. Here I will try to list some of the principles that I think always stay true, not necessarily in an order that makes any sense. However – remember – those are merely general guidelines. If I had to come up with a more appropriate title for this tutorial, it would be called “How To Photograph Your kids and Leave the Jelly of the Walls”, as this is the level of things that I am going to discuss.

Disclaimer #2: The author of this tutorial is also a proud Father (yes capital “F”), and as such, had to make some breaks during the writing of this tutorial to change diapers; fetch milk; kiss a scratch and hug. Also last night my daughter ran the test called “See if my father can stay up all night, and still be functional”. SO…. I do not take responsibility for random thoughts; loose connection and general “make no sense” advices I here by give. Ready? Here we go: [Read more...]

DIY – Create Your Own Bokeh

create your own BokehBokeh is an adaptation from a a Japanese word meaning blur. In photography this term is used to describe the quality of the areas in the picture which are not in focus.

When referring to Bokeh, we can distinguish some of it characteristics:

- Is the light/dark gradient smooth or sharp?

- What shape will a small dot of light take what it is in the Bokeh area? (mirror lenses for example, create a bagel like Bokeh)

We can play with those two variants to create a special Bokeh.

[Read more...]

The Origami Studio (An Extrapolation to The $0.02 Macro Studio)

cheap origami macro studioThis post on a 2 cents macro studio got me thinking. Firstly because it is a great idea, it employs the same technique as the super simple light tent and the flash diffuser. Secondly it is cheap. So cheap in fact, that it really does only cost two cents. The thing that I was thinking is – “I want a BLT Sub”, and right after “This is great for small objects, what if I want to shoot something bigger? For this I came up with an improvement – The Origami Macro Studio. It is not as cheap – approximately 20 times more expensive – but for 40 cents, it is still a heck f a deal. And as the macro studio, it is cheap, takes 2 minutes to prepare, and very simple. [Read more...]

DIY – Make a Free Light Stand Out of an Old Tripod

diy studio light stand
If you need a better way to hold the light you use while taking pictures with the DIY backdrop you just made, or you need a better way to control where light goes for keying out backgrounds in Photoshop, read through this tutorial on how to make a quick and durable (and highly configurable) lightstand out of one of those old, sort-of broken cheap tripods you have sitting in your closet. Even if it’s your main tripod, you should be able to modify it so you can swap it for a lightstand or standard tripod pretty easily. [Read more...]