It’s not often I get to shoot very simple, clean white light shots, but in a recent shoot the model asked if she could get some updated ‘Polaroids’. For those of you not familiar with the term when used in reference to a model shoot, it’s actually not the now obsolete and ludicrously expensive single-shot film, but a request for very basic portraits of the model for their agency. This ‘Polaroid’ term is a relic from the analogue film days and it essentially now means shots that are un-retouched and with the model wearing very little makeup.
There is an almost endless supply of lighting modifiers available on the market right now, some are cheap and some of the better ones are certainly a lot more expensive. But does cost directly relate to quality? Well, a lot of the time yes it does if you’re referring to build quality.
In general, the more you spend, the more well-made and durable the modifier will be. But does that extra money you spend mean you’re getting a better lighting modifier overall? I would have to say no, in fact for less than £15/$20 you can get some stunningly beautiful light from a homemade lighting modifier. Read on to see examples of the stupidly cheap DIY lighting modifiers I’m referring too.
Strip modifiers like LitePipe P and SaberStrip are applicable for portrait photography, both indoors and outdoors. But according to Joe Edelman, their biggest flaw is their price, which he considers too high for something you’ll use only occasionally. So, he came up with his own DIY version of a daylight-balanced strip modifier. It’s easy to build, useful for portraits both in the studio and on location – and it costs around $50in material. And I think it’s a plus that it looks a bit like a lightsaber.
As some of you already know, I recently developed and released a brand new lighting workshop called Creatively Simple Lighting. In that workshop, one of the core foundations of what I teach is how to get creative with simple lighting and simple lighting doesn’t get any simpler than when you use Speedlights. At their most basic, Speedlights can simply sit on top of your camera and illuminate whatever is in front of you. If you want to get a little more creative however, the first thing to do is to get that flash off your camera and step into the vast world of off-camera flash.
Off-camera flash is where it gets interesting and it’s very easy to throw a cheap softbox on your speedlight and take some pleasant yet fairly basic shots. So how do we make it a little more engaging without spending a fortune? Well, as part of my workshop I wanted to prove that all the setups I was teaching could be achieved with a couple of Speedlights and some very basic modifiers. The following article is the result of me dusting off my Speedlights and playing with some homemade modifiers to see if I could create some engaging and creative effects without it costing me a penny.
Speedlights often go hand in hand with shooting portraits on the street, especially at night, but small flashes have one big issue. Due to their size, they often give very hard, harsh and unflattering light, especially if you’re forced to use one on the hotshoe.
After being asked to photograph a night time outdoor music event, and wanting the minimise the risk to expensive equipment, photographer Tom Simone came up with a DIY solution to help make that light a little bigger and provide a more pleasing look with help from a Chinese paper lantern lampshade.
A few days ago we shared a cool way to mount a strobe to a tree using a 3D printed “dog bone” and a strap. It used a cool housing for the strobe that placed the strobe 100% on axis which was very cool. We actually got some mails about that flash mount from the video so we asked Chris Cameron for the brand.
Chris told us that it was not a bought mount, but that he printed it himself and he agreed to share the (redesigned and improvbed) file with DIYP readers. YAY!!!
Lighting modifiers can have a huge impact on specialized shots. With the right ones, light becomes putty in your hand, easily molded by the skill of the potter. (Yeah, I jumble up my euphemisms frequently.)
YouTuber Theoria Apophasis believes in the the power of light modifiers, but he believes even more in ingenuity. The “Angry Photographer” shared one of his favorite homemade mods to get creative lighting that adds drama to his images. This is one of the best lighting mods and can be easily created with craft store supplies for $5.
DIY is where we started, and we love to return to it whenever possible…especially for tutorials like this.
Columbus, Ohio-based photographer Nick Fancher believes that you can “studio” anywhere, turning the most ordinary locations into quality pseudo-studios. In this video (after the jump), Nick shows us how he constructed a simple and portable v-flat lighting configuration using (what appears to be) foam board and tape.
A few days ago we shared some macro shots of spiders being reflected in drops of dew which were simply stunning. They definitely inspired me to pull out my extension tubes and reverse ring and get back into macro. If they inspired you to dabble, too, macro photography master, Thomas Shahan, just posted a new tutorial on the subject. There’s a lot of good advice for beginners in there, but more experienced photographers can find a few gems in the clip as well.
The video is an mostly an eight minute long slideshow of Shahan’s brilliant macro photos with some behind the scenes shots in there for good measure. Shahan narrates the clip by explaining his setup, process, and dishes out a ton of great pointers for levels of photographers. Be sure to look for the variety of DIY light modifiers he uses in some of the images. He briefly talks about how he made one of them with a paper towel and some sheets of plastic. He’s able to get some great shots using just that and the pop up flash on his Pentax DSLR.