Friday, February 20, 2009

A word about lighting hardware

Antique camera, detail

I spent some time yesterday working on my studio lighting techniques. The only problem is that I don't currently own any studio lights. Up until the last few months, I've been a natural light kind of a guy. I've had a few still life photos rejected by iStock because they weren't up to par with photos taken with a bank of lights and soft boxes. Ok, fine.

I came across the blog of a pro photographer who uses some unorthodox (and cheap) lighting methods. He also shoots for some big time clients. And his photos are good. I'm sold.

One trick - he frequents that well-known photography supply store, Home Depot, where he picked up a couple of 4-foot fluorescent light fixtures and some daylight-balanced tubes. Instant studio lights. I did the same, and got a two-light fixture for about nine bucks plus tubes.

For this shot, I set up the fixture vertically to the camera right and took some test shots. The fixture lit the antique camera well (a Kodak Brownie Box Camera from about 1910), but the twin tubes created two streaks of light in the camera's lens, which I found distracting. I have a round five-way reflector (you can get one for as little as $50 at a camera shop that carries them) in which one of the ways is white translucent. I placed that in front of the light fixture to ty to soften the light. Perfect.

A piece of white foam board to the camera's left reflected some light into the shadow side and a flash unit bounced off the ceiling rounded out the lighting for this shot, which is very nearly SOOC (straight out of camera). Just a very small amount of levels adjustment and cleaning up some dust specks on the mirror was all that was needed.

I'll probably be heading to the Photo Home Depot soon for another fixture. Next step, portraits.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2009 James Jordan.


Laurie said...

You can also get those cheap clamp on work lights with the tin reflectors at Home Depot...they work nicely. You can make a DIY light shed easily and for little money. There are all sorts of methods for making those. Anything from cardboard boxes to pvc pipes and fittings.

I think this turned out excellent.

DaveM said...

Good shot. A tissue[s] over a flash gun can give nice diffused light effect.

Olivier Jules said...

nice shot