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Thread: Makeshift Home Studios...

  1. #1
    vicphotog's Avatar
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    Makeshift Home Studios...

    I have recently been accepted on a stock photography site, and have reached a point where I want and need to start adding different types of images to my portfolio besides outdoor and landscape... not really interested in portraiture and "people" shots (other than candid street photography) but stills and eventually some food photography.... now here's the big but - I'm not able to afford to run out and buy equipment so I am improvising with items around the house - linens for backgrounds, unshaded and floor lamps etc for different lighting, using parchment paper to cut harsh glares....
    Does anyone else have any ideas or things that you do and use in the home that cost little to nothing?
    Here is a set-up I did yesterday - the lighting turned out poorly, lol, uneven and too many harsh shadows, so I textured it instead! Any and all ideas, C&C are welcome and appreciated

    Makeshift Home Studios...

  2. #2
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Makeshift Home Studios...

    I am currently reading Low Budget Shooting by Cyrill Harnischmacher and he mentioned the use of an ordinary flashlight as a light brush and using mirrors to brighten objects. He also made a reflector from an emergency blanket.

  3. #3
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Makeshift Home Studios...

    You don't need a professional studio in order to shoot good imagery.

    Try these links:

    Photo Equipment Basics: Home Studios On a Budget

    http://www.bigstockphoto.com/blog/th...e-photo-studi/

    Pro Photo Life - series of free video tutorials many of which, such as making light stands from cement filled cans with wood sticks inserted, are either free or very low cost.

    http://www.prophotolife.com/video-library/

    Studio Lighting - Really cheap homemade DIY studio - no lighting needed

    http://www.diyphotography.net/homest...ighting-needed

    DIY - Studio Equipment: Greenscreens and Backdrop Stands

    http://www.diyphotography.net/diy_st...backdrop_stand

    Homemade Photography Equipment

    http://www.ehow.com/way_5752630_home...equipment.html

  4. #4
    vicphotog's Avatar
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    Re: Makeshift Home Studios...

    thanks John for the book tip and Richard for the links, I've spent so much time on google lately that my eyes and brain hurt -
    I'll spend some time with these links now too - and then more improvising!

  5. #5
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Makeshift Home Studios...

    Rachel...
    You can also purchase very inexpensive studio strobe based lighting kits on eBay. Although I would not recommend these for 5-day a week, 8-hours a day professional use; the will stand up to casual use just fine.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/2-x-110-ws-Flash...item4cf531399c

  6. #6
    rob marshall

    Re: Makeshift Home Studios...

    Rachel

    I have a small home studio for still-life shots. I use a set of cheap studio strobes that I got as a kit for 250. As Richard said above you can get them cheaper than that on E-bay. You can trigger them with a cheap cable. If it's just for still-life the quality isn't really an issue. I've had mine for three years and have never had a problem with it. All my other accessories are mostly home-made reflectors made from
    art board and coloured/white card etc.

    The important thing is to diffuse the light to get it softer. You could just try an ordinary DIY lamp with a white sheet pinned up in front of the lamp to diffuse it. And for reflectors just use white card/boards.

    Note my very expensive small reflector - a sheet of A4 white card, taped to a box file. It works!

    Makeshift Home Studios...

  7. #7
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Makeshift Home Studios...

    Quote Originally Posted by rob marshall View Post
    Rachel

    I have a small home studio for still-life shots. I use a set of cheap studio strobes that I got as a kit for 250. As Richard said above you can get them cheaper than that on E-bay. You can trigger them with a cheap cable. If it's just for still-life the quality isn't really an issue. I've had mine for three years and have never had a problem with it. All my other accessories are mostly home-made reflectors made from
    art board and coloured/white card etc.

    The important thing is to diffuse the light to get it softer. You could just try an ordinary DIY lamp with a white sheet pinned up in front of the lamp to diffuse it. And for reflectors just use white card/boards.

    Note my very expensive small reflector - a sheet of A4 white card, taped to a box file. It works!

    Makeshift Home Studios...
    Are there any safety concerns with the materials used and the heat from the strobes?

  8. #8
    rob marshall

    Re: Makeshift Home Studios...

    The only real heat is from the modelling lamp, which is not very much. I suppose you should always unplug electrical kit when it's not being used. For still-life it doesn't get a lot of use. A reasonable studio kit should last you years, and works out pretty cheap over that period. I reckon I've spent a total of about 500 on all my stuff - lights, light meter (s/hand), black Lastolite backdrop, a few reflectors. If it lasts 10 years it's pretty cheap considering the difference it makes to your shots.

  9. #9

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    Re: Makeshift Home Studios...

    Good stuff. I am building my table and such, but first have to rearrange my office space. I have way too much crap and am in the process of finding good homes for a lot of it. I had a lady from the Savannah College of Art & Design come down and get 6 enlargers.

  10. #10
    vicphotog's Avatar
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    Re: Makeshift Home Studios...

    thanks all of you - these tips are great - Rob your set-up is pretty similar to what I have started too.... I'm glad to know that it can work without having to buy professional equipment - I'll just keep going with whatever I can find!

  11. #11
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    Re: Makeshift Home Studios...

    Are there any safety concerns with the materials used and the heat from the strobes?

    IMO there are many advantages to using strobes over continuous lights. However, the two main advantages are:

    1. Modeling lights so you can see what you are shooting
    2. That strobes, even with the modeling lights left on, do not generate much heat.

    You can, when shooting still life with continuous lights, use florescent bulbs which will generate minimal heat. This is a safer setup than using incandescent or halogen bulbs. I always shudder when I hear a person planning to use halogen work-lights and intending to modify these lights with a home made softbox or an umbrella.

    The halogen lights generate tremendous amounts of heat. When I used halogens while shooting motion pictures on location, my standard kit contained a pair of asbestos gloves for handling these hot things. They can easily set on fire any flammable material located too close to the light. They can also do a good job branding people who inadvertently touch the lights when they are on or soon after they have been turned off.

    On the other hand, they can provide a hell of a lot of light in a small package using reasonable amperage. Actually. IMO, while they were good for lighting a set, when shooting with ISO 25 film, they are far too bright, along with too darned hot, for still portraiture and for many still life shots. They can melt many materials, set others on fire and cook the foods you are trying to light. They make human subjects very uncomfortable and produce perspiration which causes the skin to shine unattractively. They also make the pupils of your subjects contract so that the person looks like he or she is high on drugs.

  12. #12
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Makeshift Home Studios...

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Are there any safety concerns with the materials used and the heat from the strobes?

    IMO there are many advantages to using strobes over continuous lights. However, the two main advantages are:

    1. Modeling lights so you can see what you are shooting
    2. That strobes, even with the modeling lights left on, do not generate much heat.

    You can, when shooting still life with continuous lights, use florescent bulbs which will generate minimal heat. This is a safer setup than using incandescent or halogen bulbs. I always shudder when I hear a person planning to use halogen work-lights and intending to modify these lights with a home made softbox or an umbrella.

    The halogen lights generate tremendous amounts of heat. When I used halogens while shooting motion pictures on location, my standard kit contained a pair of asbestos gloves for handling these hot things. They can easily set on fire any flammable material located too close to the light. They can also do a good job branding people who inadvertently touch the lights when they are on or soon after they have been turned off.

    On the other hand, they can provide a hell of a lot of light in a small package using reasonable amperage. Actually. IMO, while they were good for lighting a set, when shooting with ISO 25 film, they are far too bright, along with too darned hot, for still portraiture and for many still life shots. They can melt many materials, set others on fire and cook the foods you are trying to light. They make human subjects very uncomfortable and produce perspiration which causes the skin to shine unattractively. They also make the pupils of your subjects contract so that the person looks like he or she is high on drugs.
    Good information, especially for those who may come across used equipment.

  13. #13

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    Re: Makeshift Home Studios...

    How accurate is the strobe meter when using it in a digital application? I also wonder if it is an absolute necessity or could you do a number of test exposures, keep track and bracket to each set of known variables?

  14. #14
    rob marshall

    Re: Makeshift Home Studios...

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisC View Post
    How accurate is the strobe meter when using it in a digital application? I also wonder if it is an absolute necessity or could you do a number of test exposures, keep track and bracket to each set of known variables?
    Do you mean the light meter? It's pretty accurate. You set the light power level then fire a test flash holding the meter in front of the subject. It gives you an f/stop reading, say f/11 which you dial into your camera manual setting. If you want a different f/stop you just change the power output from the flash. It's very quick. You need a meter that reads flash though. I don't think they all do it. Mine is a Sekonic Flashmate. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sekonic-Flas...8405684&sr=1-1 I got it used in a camera shop for 80.

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