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Thread: Makeshift studio tips/advice

  1. #1
    allenlennon's Avatar
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    Allen or "Lurchy" is fine

    Makeshift studio tips/advice

    Hi all, im thinking of eventually making a make shift studio for still life/table top photography like mikes, but not as extensive as his.

    here is some ideas i have come up with:

    1)Use PVC to make a decent sized cubical
    Black fabric/felt to clamp on the PVC.
    Sawhorses as the legs for whatever surface and/or surfaces i use and either paint it black or drape black fabric over. (this will be used no matter what i decide)

    2) Use black fabric taped to the walls of the area im going to use and the ceiling if possible.

    3) Wait till night time(which is where i have the most free time) and go outside weather permitting. But this can be an issue if the moon light will interfere if i dont specifically want it in the shot.

    Unfortunately i do not have a place in my home or sheds I can prominently use so something i can put up and down would be ideal. As well i do not own the house. So any tips, suggestions, advice will be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2

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    Re: Makeshift studio tips/advice

    Keep in mind that the only reason to use a black enclosure is to eliminate all unwanted reflection. If your subject doesn't present that issue, you don't need the black enclosure.

    Even if you are photographing a highly reflective surface, you may not need black fabric if the area around the subject is large enough and poorly lit. Your idea of photographing outside at night is an extreme example, but you may have a room that allows enough space.

    There is no need to go to the cost of using felt except when nothing else will serve as an ideal background. First try using black poster board. Even if you need felt, you will probably need only a small amount. As an example, my background for the glass photos I have made is only 14 inches x 21 inches (36 cm x 48 cm).

    By the way, keep in mind that some of my dark-field photos of glass that have a dark background were made using white poster board as the background. All of them could have been made that way. It's the lighting that makes the background dark, not the color of the background itself.

    I'm not mechanically inclined, so I'm actually not sure that saw horses are the best support for a tabletop. As an example, my tabletops are about 2 feet (0.6 meters) square. As a result, there are eight legs and other support pieces of the sawhorses that get in the way of the legs of my tripod and light stands. I use the saw horses mostly because I already had them and only then because I want the flexibility to shine light from beneath a clear tabletop. A simple table with no more than four legs and no braces between them is a better solution when using an opaque tabletop.

    Black gaffer's tape will be your friend. It sticks to almost any surface (I haven't found one that it doesn't stick to). Yet removing the tape leaves no adhesive and leaves most surfaces unblemished. However, removing the tape from poster board or a board made of foam core does tend to tear the outer surface. I've never had any trouble with it harming a painted wall, diffusion material, light stands and the like.

    Hope some of these ideas help!
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 18th January 2013 at 10:51 PM.

  3. #3
    xpatUSA's Avatar
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    Re: Makeshift studio tips/advice

    Quote Originally Posted by allenlennon View Post
    Hi all, im thinking of eventually making a make shift studio for still life/table top photography like mikes, but not as extensive as his.

    Unfortunately i do not have a place in my home or sheds I can prominently use so something i can put up and down would be ideal. As well i do not own the house. So any tips, suggestions, advice will be greatly appreciated.
    Are you sure there's no room in your sheds? I use about 2 ft x 4 ft in an old camper (caravan):

    Makeshift studio tips/advice

    Do you have moths and stuff outside? Here they are a pain, attracted to any lamp for most of the year and your construction doesn't sound bug-proof.

  4. #4

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    Re: Makeshift studio tips/advice

    Ted's makeshift studio is a perfect example of one that is perfectly designed to meet his needs. Not all makeshift studios need to be made like mine or his. Your needs and, thus, the size and other characteristics of your makeshift studio can be dramatically different depending on what you are photographing and the style that you are photographing it.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 18th January 2013 at 03:40 PM.

  5. #5

    Re: Makeshift studio tips/advice

    Hey Allen, this is one that I was looking into making but got side tracked when I started getting into flash photography and am spending much time there right now. I hope this helps out some and it is cheap to build. The best part is being able to take it apart and store it when not in use. There are many more "DIY light box/tent" ideas if you google it.

    http://getinthewoodchipper.com/?p=249

    Another neat site.

    http://www.diyphotography.net/light-...studio-project

    make sure to go to part two at the bottom of the page.
    Last edited by Carl in Louisiana; 18th January 2013 at 08:10 PM.

  6. #6
    allenlennon's Avatar
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    Allen or "Lurchy" is fine

    Re: Makeshift studio tips/advice

    Thank you for all your replies, think, for now, i will take it as it is and get the stuff as i need them, thank you. Now to buy a piece of glass to try out the idea in the link that Carl supplied us

  7. #7
    drjuice's Avatar
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    Re: Makeshift studio tips/advice

    Hi, Allen -

    For 15 months while he was on sabbatical, I rented my department chairman's house. While I didn't own the place, I found that a roll of aluminum foil with a roll of duct tape worked to blackout the spare bathroom which had been their daughter's. (I actually got pink duct tape to match the bathroom decor). When I was finished with the window, I took one of my cattails (a device used in cold climates to block the cold winter wind from coming into the house around leaky doors or windows; it's just a tube of denium or canvas with a loop of fabric at one end to use to hang it on the door knob when it's needed at the bottom of the door) and used it to block the light from coming in under the door. Then, I had two pieces of 1x8 in stock that stretched over the bath tub so things wouldn't fall in and I set my box for object photography and all my darkroom trays and similar gear on the 1x8s, moving them around as necessary.

    On the few occasions when my Mom visited or I had a bash of some sort for my friends, it was easy enough to pack the whole works up and put in a closet so I had a regular fully functional bathroom.

    Now that I don't have to have trays in my darkroom, life is much simpler because I made the box from a couple of pieces of foam core board and made hinges with the pink duct tape on the outside of the box so I can collapse it.

    Hope this helps.

    virginia

  8. #8
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Makeshift studio tips/advice

    My makeshift tabletop studio is totally portable. It consists of a professional seamless stand that I got for Christmas a couple of years ago, a small folding table that we picked up at a discount store that I throw an old piece of plywood that used to be my "drafting board" from many, many years ago. I have three rolls of 53" seamless; black, white and gray. I also have a couple of lower-middle end studio lights (Paul C Buff Einstein 640) with small soft boxes and some reflectors (home made and store bought).

    When I am in the mood for some shots, I set things up and take a few shots before putting my toys away. I set up pretty well anywhere; basement, living room, spare bedroom, etc. and when I finish shooting, I put all the toys back into their bags and store them in my basement storage room. I use some cheap plastic spring-loaded clamps to hold the seamless in place, on the roll and on the table.

    Makeshift studio tips/advice

    As you can see, this works well enough for me.

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