Strip Light Cheat Sheet Card

Strip Light Cheat Sheet CardThe idea behind this cheat sheet is simple – it features three settings of strip light.

Those should help you pre-visualize the use of strip lights as part of your lighting setup.

I began working with strip lights not that long ago and I really love them. having a light source that is hard on one axis and soft on the other is a very interesting tool to work with. Not so easy to pre-visualize though, hence the card. [Read more…]

21 Photographs And Lighting Setups For Every Occasion

21 Photographs And Lighting Setups For Every OccasionIt would be very pretentious of me to declare that looking at the photographs and diagrams below will teach you how to light. That said, looking at the photographs and setups and trying to understand the motivation behind the lighting will give you a good start when dealing with similar lighting dilemmas.

You can always come back to this post to see how a particular image was lit to make a similar setup or to use it as a stepping stone for your own. [Read more…]

Create A Shaped Bokeh Lens Cap

Create A Shaped Bokeh Lens CapDIYP has covered shaped bokeh from any possible angle, this is why I was surprised to see that we actually never did a tutorial on converting a lens cap into a bokeh holder. To rectify this, Nadine Spires shares how to easily make a holder like this.

The idea came from Pompo, where the author used a lens cap to make a rectangular Bokeh shape.

I wanted something that was easy to set up and didn’t interfere with the zoom mechanism of my lens, the natural choice was a lens cap. [Read more…]

Create An Automated Macro Rail For Image Stacking

Create An Automated Macro Rails For Image StackingDo you find that producing sharp macro photographs is hard due to the super limited depth of field? The way to get around this is to take multiple images with different focus points and stack them together. A tidies work, no doubt.

Macro photographer Domjan Svilkovic was kind enough to share a setup that needs nothing more than a camera, a micro controller, a bunch of cables, a computer, an old DVD an old floppy drive and some basic electronics. OK, that’s a lot of stuff, but considering that the alternative for an automated rails are in the high $100s range, it may very well be worth the extra effort.

Now, just before I hand the floor over to Domjan, beware, this is going to get geeky. And by geeky I mean that you need to have some previous electronics know-how (or better yet, ask a friend). [Read more…]

eBook: Your Complete Guide To Building A Photography Studio At Home

Your Complete Guide To Building A Photography Studio At Home

I’ve got a very happy announcement today. DIYP is releasing its first eBook – Home Studio Photography: Your Complete Guide To Building A Photography Studio At Home.

It’s a long name, I know, yet it grasps the essence of the book, providing a full, comprehensive reference book for building a Photography studio at home. You can grab a copy here, or read the details after the jump. [Read more…]

Create Amazing Light Spirographs With The Spirograph Wheel

The Spirograph Light Wheel Light PaintingLight painting is the process of using one or more light sources to fill in a single exposure to create a unique image. If you think of the light like a pencil to paper and then add tools like a Spirograph to the situation you might understand what exactly I am doing.

The light wheel is actually pretty simple and you can get pretty creative with it on the fly. It is made up of a bicycle wheel (any size, however I have found that a 20” BMX bike wheel is a good size), A set of battery operated LED string lights. (These can be purchased from eBay or if you are lucky around October through March you can pick them up at Target or IKEA (any store that sells Christmas stuff is likely to have them). The lights are attached using black electrical tape and I used a bike peg I had laying around as the handle.

In this article, 55125 will teach you how to build your own light wheel. [Read more…]

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…]

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…]