DIY Lens Support Bracket

The following article is a guest post by Dwight Duckstein.

I purchased a used Nikkor 70-200mm, 2.8f lens – the old style that didn’t have a tripod ring. Not wanting to spend even more money on an aftermarket ring that would interfere with the A ring, I decided to make my own. Granted, the materials cost me some change, but it is designed the way I want it, and it works. Your dimensions may vary, depending on which lens and which camera you mount it to, so I am not providing much dimension detail here.


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My Mother in Law and the Family of Angles (an Intro)

shooting_painting_foa.jpgSome time ago I wrote about taking art images for my mother in law. Since I don’t have my dream lens yet, I had to compromise on the lens and use the great (but not ideal for this task) Nikon 18-70 lens. (The image to the lest if one of the original paintings)

I got a few mails and comments about the issue of getting closer to the pictures to make the picture fill a wider part of the frame.

Sample Comment (by ‘Anon‘):

Kind of a newb, but why would you have used a zoom lens? And at what
distance/mm? I would think 50-70mm would be ideal, or would getting any
closer affect the “family of angles” thing?

As Norm replied, the main issue of getting further from the image was the Family of Angles constraint. Let me explain:

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Shooting Paintings for My Mother in Law

I love my mother in law
. I know this is not a popular statement, but it may explain the following tutorial and experience I am about to share with you.

Rss readers, grab the video here.

My mother in law is an artist. She paints pictures, and lovely ones, if you’ll listen to my un-bribed opinion. Last week she asked me to make a video clip from some of her shots so she can share her art. The video is also to be used as a pilot for distributing her catalog in video form.

In the following article I will describe the process of making the promotional DVD, including the setup and lighting, the post processing and the creation of the slideshow. (And of course the “thank you” note I got from my mother in law – priceless).

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When Color Temperature Does Not Need To Be Precise – Beaker!

colored_tumblers.jpgBoth the Strobist and Rui talk about the virtues of using gels on strobes to create atmosphere in a shot. Either cold blue or hot read. Uber photographer David Tejada uses gels on a regular basis to spice up his shots.

Reader Tony Bell has an interesting idea on color correction gels. Even though they are cheap and available, you can still beat the price, if you are going for Lomo style and Lomo level color accuracy.

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Great Ways To Include Shadows In Your Pictures – Discussion

shadows_friends.jpgResults from the Shadows Assignment, in which you were asked to include shadows in your photographs.

We had 9 flickr submissions (two by Carlos – waytogo!) as well as 10 comments submissions – coming to a total of 19 submissions.

All images submitted were great and I had a hard time choosing the top four. I got those four as they each reflect a different technique of using shadows.

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As Seen In…

grease monkey flickr pluginUsually I write about stuff that has to do with DIY, or Photography. If it is a good day, I’ll write something that is both DIY and photography. But being the guy that I am, sometimes I want to share stuff that does not answer the strict definitions of either. So, if you are only interested in building stuff from junk around the house or learning the ins and outs of photography, feel free to skip this post. If you’ll read through, you will learn how to be cool on Flickr. [Read more...]

Painting With Light

painting with lightPainting with light is a fun technique that gives great results. It is called painting with light because this is what you are actually doing while taking the shot – painting with light.

You don’t need much to experiment with this kind of shot, just make sure you have the following items:

1. A camera capable of long exposures – film cameras will work OK, but if you really want to get the most out of the shooting session, use a digital camera. You will be able to see the results in “real time” and make corrections as you go.

2. A nice tripod. Since you will be doing some long exposures you want to make sure your camera sits still. If you don’t have a tripod you can make one in a few minutes (see this article or this one).

3. A flash light – and by flash light I do not mean flash as in a speedlight, but the flash light or what our British will call a torch.

4. A dark location. This one is tricky. If you are going to shot at home – a dark room will be OK. If you are going to shoot outside – make sure that you are not doing this under a street light, or where a car can come by and “paint its headlight” all over your shot. [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.

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DIY – Studio Equipment: Greenscreens and Backdrop Stands

diy studio backdrop / greenscreenThis article will explain how to design and assemble bluescreens, greenscreens and backdrops for photos and video, as well as how to easily and inexpensively build a portable frame to support these backdrops out of PVC pipe or metal conduit. The ideas are similar to the ones that proposed by Brian Zimmerman, with a nice fresh view and clear explanations. (NOTE: Please be sure to read some of the extra notes at the bottom of this guide for optimal performance).

For amateur or hobbyist photographers and video producers, coming up with the money for a nice, $200 (and up!) backdrop and the expensive stands and hangers required to help support it isn’t very easy. Rather, they need a way to make a nice-looking background that is both good looking and easy to transport. [Read more...]

Taking pictures of paintings

Brian Edmonds writes:

I am trying to take pictures of paintings in my studio. I am having trouble with hot spots and dead spots. I have tried angling the lights but I get a little of both. I am using a canon digital camera that allows for changing settings but only has the snapshot flash. I would also like to take these digital pictures and turn them into slides. I know there are companies that do this do you have any suggestions?

I have read your blog entries but do not know which suggestion applies to me. I am an amateur photographer but I can usually manipulate things enough to get by. My studio has natural light fluorescent bulbs. Should I try to use these lights in combo with the angled lights or should I try to use only the angled lights?
Thank you in advance.

Truly frustrated,

Brian Edmonds

Hi Brian,

Taking pictures of paintings is a tricky subject. While it looks simple when thinking of it, going into the practical setup can be rather tricky.

There are a few setups you can use to take picture of painting. I think that the easiest way is to take your pictures out side to a shady location and take the shots.

If you insist on taking the shots in a studio (and I can see a few reasons for insisting so) here are my recommendations.

  1. Use a tripod. Even if you are using a flash, and can go to high shooting speeds, using a tripod will help you verify that your camera is completely parallel to the painting.
  2. You can use the setup up suggested in the diagram below. It has two strobes with umbrellas. If you don’t have two strobes you can use continuous lighting, just make sure you use the correct white balance – use a gray card.
    I have left angle "A" as a "variable" as it depends on the size of your painting. For small painting I’d go with "traditional" 45 degrees. For larger paintings I’d use a wider angle. When playing around with angles make sure that the strobes are not angled too wide. This will cause the light to skim your painting, reducing brightness and creating uneven lighting (brighter on the edges). Also make sure that both strobes are set t the same output levels and positioned in the same distance from the painting.
Taking pictures of paintings diagram

Best of Luck,



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