Can DIY Modifiers Compete Against Pro Grade Modifiers?

Last week I wrote about why you would want to do a DIY photography project, but can it match up to pro gear? Challenge… Accepted!

This week I did a whole photoshoot using only DIY modifiers for main lights. With the help of my girlfriend and her friends to model for me, the challenge was on.

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The idea behind challenge was to prove that making your own modifiers and equipment is not all that bad compared to branded expensive material. (And before the first comment starts coming in, let me say that I do own a couple of Westcott softboxes and umbrellas, and I use them when needed or when working with high end clients, I just really like my DIY’s).

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Analyzing Light – How to Breakdown The Lighting Of A Photo

Ever since I started photography I had a thing  for lighting. Nowadays, every time I see a picture, I can’t help it but to analyze and breakdown how it was lit. In this article I will share my analyzing process, step by step.

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I believe understanding light can make a huge improvement to any photographer’s work, and practicing light-analysis is definitely one of the better ways to do it. When was just starting out, analyzing light on Flickr photos I love was a huge learning experience for me.

There are plenty of way (or tricks) to analyze light, this is how I do it, feel free to share yours too.

The first thing I do is break down the lighting into 4 hint-groups: Catchlights, Shadows, Highlights, and Background lights.

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Using Everyday Objects For Making Outstanding Backdrops

I am a big fan of using simple objects or DIYing solutions in my photograph. One thing I always like doing is using a Gobo (photography lingo fo go-between) to make any plain background stand out. Nowadays, I am using a device called the Light Blaster which can act as a dedicated gobo projector, but before I got it, I DIYed my own patterns for the background.

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So here are examples of everyday objects I use to create some cool patterns on the background.

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Room Sized Lightbox Provides The Perfect Lighting Every Time

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One of the first tricks new photographers discover is the ability to place an object in a box with the walls replaced with diffusion material to create even lighting. Of course, any scientific mind will immediately ask, can we make this human size? The answer, is yes!

Photographer Kevin Lynch does just that. Using an array of PVC pipes and fittings, he created a room sized light box. It is actually big enough for a Karate fighter to jump around in. [Read more...]

Quick Tip: Quickly Change Between TTL and “Dumb” Sync Modes With Off Camera Flash

We got this great quick tip by mail from Brian Carey. He shoots a lot with off camera lighting and came up with a clever hack to switch between TTL and “dumb” PC-sync in a second. No complex menus, no fiddling with small buttons, just a straight easy swap. And it only takes a small game of Operation.

Quick Tip: Quickly Change Between TLL and Sync Modes With Off Camera Flash

This is one of my favorite and most used photo hacks. With my portable speedlite light modifiers I use either Cybersync or TTL flash and this hack allows me to change to and from wired TTL to wireless (in this case non TTL) in seconds. The 3.5 mm, 1/8″ miniature jack also works with Pocket Wizards and other triggering devices. [Read more...]

The 2 Stops Underexposure “Magic Bullet”

OK, you got me, there is no magic bullet. The truth of it is that you have to work hard and know what you’re doing. That said, this technique is a handy tool to have in the toolbox – I use it often to get great and predictable results.

I still remember the first time I tried this technique. It was four years ago in Hawaii. It was the perfect sunset, and I wanted to properly expose for both my background (the sunset) and my subjects.

The 2 Stops Underexposure "Magic Bullet"

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Building Underwater Strobe Arms

Building Underwater Strobe Arms

Photographing underwater has all the usual challenges of photography + the fun fact that it is done under water and you need to make sure your equipment is safe.

It is also pretty hard to position lights under water, so usually you’ll have a set of underwater strobes hanging of the camera housing. Photographer John Coffey shares a pretty clever DIY to make underwear extendable arms for strobes. [Read more...]

How To Build A Square Ring Light for Less Than $10

I know that Square Ring Flash is kind of an oxymoron, I mean how can it be both square and ring shaped. Well if they can do it in boxing, we can do it in photography. Making a square ring light is significantly easier than making a circled ring light, as strait lines as easier to handle. So easy in fact that you can be done with a ring light in half an hour and $10 as Isiah Xiong demostrates.

How To Build A Square Ring Light for Less Than $10

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Extending The GI Trigger Range

Extending The GI Trigger RangeFinally I got around to making a little change on my GI Radio Slave Transmitter set (those are also known as GI Triggers or Poverty Wizards).

I love the triggers dearly, and while there pop rate is not good enough to play Russian Roulette with, it is good enough for most of my usage.

One thing that has been bothering me for ages is the short rage of those triggers. While they work well indoors, they tend to be a little limiting once stepping outside. I looked around and found some great tuts (including a camo one) about extending the GI range. This post will describe how I did it (kinda quick and dirty).

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