Cheap DIY (Homemade) Muslin Photography Background

cheap diy muslin background 07

This project had the website in mind and strives to help develop it into a vibrant online community. This backdrop is similar to those sold online for a couple hundred dollars! But guess what? for around 20 bucks and about an hours time I’ve made a studio backdrop myself, and now I’ll show YOU how you can make a backdrop yourself!  (And complete the DIY experiance by adding a DIY backdrop stand) [Read more...]

Studio Lighting – What Short Light And Broad Light Are

broad light short lightWhat Is Short Light?
Short light is type of studio lighting setup, where the face side which is further from the camera gets the main light. see the diagram for details. In this type of lighting setup, the side of the face which is toward the camera gets less light then the side facing away form the camera. The effect you get when using this lighting setup is a thin face, this is why it is good to photograph fat (or chubby) people with a short light setup. [Read more...]

A Quick Tip – How To Tell A Charged Battery From An Empty One

When I go on a photo session, I sometimes take a few en-el3a batteries for the session. I Just dump them all in my bag. When I finish using a battery, I put it back in the bag. How do I know which battery is empty and which is full? – The solution is easy, when a battery is charged, I wrap it with a rubber band before I put it in the bag. The battery with the rubber band on can not be placed inside the battery compartment. So before I use it I have to take the band of. After I am done using it, I put I in the bag again. Of course without the rubber band now.

Picture Composition – The Rule of Thirds (or Golden Ratio)

composition - rule of thirdsOne of the basic rules of composition is the rule of thirds. This is a very basic rule, that is often ignored by amateurs, and can drastically improve your pictures. Here is how this rule works: imagine that you draw lines across your frame to form a tick-tack-toe playing board. (you should end up with nine identical squares). Now the image is divided to thirds, both horizontally and vertically. See the diagram for lines positions. [Read more...]

Studio Lighting – Really cheap homemade diy studio – no lighting needed

cheap studio lightingSo, you want to start your own homemade photography studio but you are totally broke and you want it to be cheap. Actually, being cheap is your prime demand from this studio. You don’t need no external fancy lighting or strobes, you don’t want them expensive softboxes. You just want to try out some still life photography, or you need take some shots for eBay. This article is just for you.

Here is what I have to offer for about 1–3 USD. This still life photography studio utilizes a huge softbox and a seamless backdrop. But before we start lets see some of the prime requirements from a still life photo studio. We want to get even light, with good shadow management and a smooth background that will not distract from our main subject. [Read more...]

Flash Diffuser for Canon S2IS

John Wilkins writes:

I’ve been reading your site diligently since I found it late last year.
Love the site btw.
I don’t have a full article, but I’ve made my own flash diffuser with a piece of tape and a snip of paper for my Canon S2 IS. I have to say that even though it’s very lo-fi, it has very dramatic effects on my photos. It’s very easy to do, and takes no dexterity at all. Just cut a 1 inch by .25 inch piece of paper, take a 2 inch piece of tape, fold one end for quick removal, place the paper on the tape, align it over the flash, affix, and wham-o. Instant diffuser. The corners on top can be trimmed to fit the flash, and like mine there will be a piece of tape covering the name Canon on the flash.
Whew! How’s that for a geeky run-on sentence?

I had no idea how dramatic the difference was until I gathered the images to send to you.I took the example pics of the SD400; the images of the diffuser on my camera were taken by someone else; I hope this helps some other budding noobie like me!


Canon S2IS with diffuser #1

Flash Diffuser for Canon S2IS #1

Canon S2IS with diffuser #2

Flash Diffuser for Canon S2IS #2

A picture taken with the diffuser

Flash Diffuser for Canon S2IS #3

A picture taken without the diffuser

Flash Diffuser for Canon S2IS #4

Click here to see answer

This is what has to answer:

Hi John,
Thanks for the letter and photos. I think your idea is great, and very easy to build.
I have one suggestion for improvement. Tape the paper in a way that it will not be totally glued to the flash, that way the light will have some more space to get out of, and you will get even more diffused light. Now it looks like this: ||, and if it looked like this: |) it would be even better. You can also try using a special peper used for engineers which is half transparent to loose less light.

Also you might take a look at the flash mounted softbox and flash diffuser articles to get inspired.
Warm regards,

Why are my studio pictures dark when I use a slave flash

John writes:

Hi DIYPhotography,
I am using a D70 for my studio shots, and one external optical slave flash.  When I take a picture, the internal flash shoots, and triggers the external flash, and yet my pictures are dark.
Can you help me?


Click here to see answer

This is what has to answer

Hi John,

I do not know your entire setup, buy my guess is that your internal flash unit is set on iTTL.

When the flash is set to iTTL it shoots a short pre-flash to measure the strength of the flash needed for the shot. That pre-flash is done before the curtain opens. After the curtain opens, a stronger strobe is shot. And here is the catch, when the main strobe triggers your slave, the slave is uncharged, after the pre-flash discharge.

Here is what you can do to override the problem. Set your internal flash unit to manual at 1/16th of its strength. Now, place a small paper between the flash and camera body, so the internal flash will have a lowest impact on the final picture as possible.


you are welcomed to ask more questions via the feedback form

Something About Analog Film – What does it all mean

When you look at the photographic word, you see a great change, the change from analog to digital. Today most amateur and professional photographers are using digital cameras, but some are still using film. Also Some studio work is still done with slides and film, due to the cost of large digital backs. The following article by Dov Klein sheds some light about the terms used when evaluating film, though most of the terms are relevant for digital sensors.


Film is the media used to record a photograph. The media is composed from a flexible celluloid sheet (that brownish-orengish plastic, where the holes in the film are), covered with emulsion (A gel-like chemical substance).

The emulsion layer holds millions of microscopic light sensitive, silver halide, particles. When a film is exposed to light, a chemical reaction is formed and the silver halide particles bond together, to create an "unseen" image. That unseen image, will be visible after processing the film.

When we are talking about black and white film, the exposed silver halide particles are turned black. The "thickness" of this black, depends upon the amount of light that hit the film. When the film is developed, the silver halide from all the areas that were not exposed is washed away, to reveal the celluloid base. It is in that time, that you can first see the image on the film.

With color film or "negative", the same principle applies, only instead of one emulsion layer, you have three layers. Red, Green and Blue (yap – RGB). In addition to the silver halide, each layer also holds chemicals known as dye. The dye makes the silver halide sensitive to different colors. So different layers are sensitive to different colors. During the development of the film, each layer creates a color depending on the dye it had. For example, if the object photographed is read, the red layer will be "dyed black", and the color seen after developing the film will be cyan (result of blue and green).

The slide film or "positive", is allot like the color negative. When light hits the film, silver halide particles also cling to each other. The dyes used and the development process is different. This is why the color on the slide is exactly the same as the color of the photographed object. For example, a red ball in real life will be seen as a red ball in the positive.

Before we get to know the parameters of films, there are several term, that are worth knowing.

Shadows – The dark regions of a picture

Highlights – The brightest regions in the picture

Midtones – Regions with average brightness – not too dark and not too bright.

Film speed – A quality of the film, which the film maker determined during manufacturing of the film. The film speed is the time needed to expose the film to create a good chemical reaction.
The Film speed is measured in units called ASA (or ISO). The higher the ASA value is, the more sensitive the film is. A 200 ASA film is twice as sensitive then a 100 ASA film. Or in other words, a 200 ASA film would need half the amount of light to create the same exposure.
If, for example, 100 ASA film needs to be exposed with f/16 for 1/125 seconds, a 200 ASA film will need only 1/250 seconds with f/16 to achieve the same exposure, and a 400 ASA film will only need 1/1000 of a second with the same F stop.
They call it the film speed because the ASA value determines "how fast" the film reacts to light.
It is usually said that films with ASA higher then 400 ASA are fast, because the respond fast to light. And it is also usually said that films with ASA value lower then 100 are slow, because they take longer to respond to light. The 200 ASA film is considered of medium speed.

The lower the speed of the film is, the finer its granularity, so it will be better for making huge prints, 50cmX70cm, for example. Granularity is the term used to specify the thickness of the silver halide grains on the film.
Low speed films are usually sharper, has richer colors and better contrast.
Today’s 400ASA films are made with top quality, and you can print a 20cmX30cm, almost without noticing the grains.

Usually we will use films up to 100 ASA when we have very good light conditions, on a sunny day. When shooting outdoors. If we know we want to make a large print, and the light conditions are not so good, we can use a tripod. The tripod will allow us to shoot at low speed need for slow films.
200 ASA films are usually used when the light source is a big window, on a partially cloudy day, or for general purpose / family shots and trips.
400 ASA and up, are used for sports, or low lighting conditions, like stage lights, street light and so on.

Some basic terms:

Resolution – The ability of a film to display the finer details shot in a clear way. Resolution is measured in lines per millimeter, the more line you can see per millimeter, the higher the resolution is.
Resolution checks are performed using a specially drawn target with spaced lines. After developing the film, a check of the number and location of lines seen, and determines the resolution of the film.

Sharpness – The film’s ability to display the edges of small details in a clear way. The more lines per millimeter you can distinguish, the higher the sharpness is.

Color saturation – The film’s ability to display color intensity with respect to the original colors. The more intense the color is on the film, the higher the saturation is.

Granularity – Granularity refers to the size of the silver halide grains on the film. The grains are just like sand grains. The rains are a byproduct of the development process, and each manufacturer uses different techniques to reduce the size of the grains. Granularity is measured by RMS (Root Mean Squares).
Larger granularity will make a picture composed of large dots, and finer granularity will make for a smoother picture. Granularity is usually bigger for faster films.

Contrast – Contrast is the film’s ability to show differences between shades of color: shades of highlights, shades of midtones and shades of shadows.

High contrast films – will emphasize the difference between different shades in the picture. The changes between highlights and shadows are very clear, and there are almost no midtones in the picture. The result of shooting with a high contrast film will be emphasizing a subject with low contrast.

Medium-high contrast films – will show very little midtones. They will show the gradient of highlights and shadows in the picture.

Medium contrast films – will show very good details both in the highlights regions of the picture and in the shaded regions of the picture. Medium contrast films will have very good gradient in the midtones. Most films are Medium contrast films.

Low contrast films - will show a wide spread of shades, all over the picture – starting with shadows, through midtones ending with highlights. Low contrast films will make a contrasty view to look like average view. Also low contrast films has the tendency to "flatten out" medium contrast subjects.

Exposure range – is the films ability to show a reasonably exposed picture, with good amount of details in all the regions of the picture: highlights, shadows and midtones.
The Exposure range is measured in stops, and it is bigger if the film can decently show details in more stops. The average negative film has a range of 5 stops, from -2 stops to +3 stops. The average slide positive has a lesser exposure range, from -1.5 stops to +1 stop.

Reciprocity failure – (or the Schwarzschild effect) is a decrease in light sensitivity (speed) with increased length of exposure. That means that the longer you expose the film, the effect of new light hitting the film will have less influence. Usually reciprocity failure data is indicated on the data sheet of the professional film.

Printable lens hoods

It’s been a long time since I have seen such a brilliant idea. This site offers free printable PDF documents that can be folded into lens hoods.
I guess they are not very sturdy, and I wouldn’t trust one to protect my camera lens from getting hit. But I will use one just for the heck of it.
Ok, so he site is at I have one idea for improvement though, the patterns can be printed on polypropylene sheet, and take more abuse.