Yes, But Is It Ready?

ready tagsUPDATE: I’ve been taking quite a bash in the comments for not checking the card prior to formatting. Of course you should always check your card. but the idea here is to know which card is empty (or formatted) before putting it in the camera.

Is this CF card filled yet? I remember using a CF card and then placing it backwards in my pocket. but I am not sure it was this card…. I’ll just format it and hope it did not have the engagement session pics…

OK, this is probably not the way you want to tell your used cards from your empty ones. There are many ways to remember if a CF card or a battery are used. You can use different pockets for empty and full; You can place them in different cases; You can put the batteries in different orientation if they are empty; you can use rubber bands, or….. [Read more…]

Creating a Simple Shutter Release Cable From An Old PC Case

Creating a Simple Shutter Release cable from an Old PC CaseBoy! Is this the most efficient way to do this? Heck no. But we know that you killed your computer for the DVD lens, so here is a good use for its leftovers.

If you have any camera that uses the 3 pin N3 shutter release socket, then here is a step by step guide to creating a cheap (if not free) basic shutter release for camera’s like the 30D, 5D, 7D, etc.

Technically, nothing bad can happen from accidentally shorting out the wrong pins in the N3 socket, but still, I take no responsibility for any damage that may occur from anyone making use of this information. [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…]

iPad + iPhone Picture in Picture In 8 Easy Steps

iPad + iPhone Picture in Picture In 8 easy StepsLying in bed one night reading a Photography eMag on my iPad I was drawn to a photography competition for a Picture in Picture. Instantly and idea shot into my head to use the iPad for a Picture in Picture photo where it appears as if the iPad screen is transparent. I decided that a shot of an apple on the kitchen table would keep the scene easy but also add a bit of reason.

The photo turned out well and after sharing it on Facebook one of my friends presented me with another challenge, to also include an iPhone in the photo giving it a third level. The iPad iPhone Picture in Picture was born.

I decided to make a self-portrait using the iPhone to display my eyes and the iPad to display the majority of my face (or as much of my big head as would fit). [Read more…]

Quick Tip: DIY “Four Square” Flash Bracket

Quick Tip: DIY Four Square BracketLooks like the four square is gaining popularity with off camera flash photographers. If you can shell the bucks for four strobes (only 268 for four YN460II) , why not get them all together for increased power / shorter recycle time.

We did have a dual flash bracket and a triple flash bracket, but this version of a four flash bracket (AKA four square) from an Electrical box and a few washers by Destin Danser is just too good to be ignored. [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…]

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…]

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.