I set up my painting studio so I could also use it for photography. All white walls, and great for bouncing. When I copy my artwork, I bounce off the side walls most of the time. So, Stephanie, if you have white walls, they will be great for getting soft light in BW or color, and if you have light colored walls of any color, but light, they will suffice as a starter for shooting BW.
Bowzart has it exactly right about the angle of incidence upon the subject matter.
Great subjects for learning about photographic light are glass and metal. Yes, there are difficult, but they will teach you a great deal. There's tons of info on shooting glass and metal on the net. Basically glass and metal make you think about where the light comes from and where it goes and what you really want to see. The mechanics of light as it were.
The best food photography tends to be wonderful examples of good lighting. Food photography doesn't tend to get trapped in the faddish stylings of fashion and editorial work.
On your quest for a spot like light, that's harder, especially if you are seeking a really clear strong, even beam with a sharp edge cutoff, like a theatrical followspot. But if you just want a long narrow sorta coherent beam, get household PAR lights with a narrow spot designation. The majority of the beam is pretty tight on those.
If you check Flickr.com and search for DIY you should be able to find others who have done similar homebuilt lighting equipment. Check the links at the bottom of the "cameramakers" page and I think you will get some good ideas. See
I hope this helps you.
Last edited by pauliej; 12-24-2008 at 09:30 AM. Click to view previous post history.
If your "diffusers" are only the size of the reflector, you are merely scrimming the light (reducing it's output) instead of diffusing it. Because this practice lowers ratios and lowers output thereby promoting large apertures resulting in reduced DOF many persons think it "softens" the light. It doesn't, from the subject POV it is still a point source ("hard") The "soft" light you seek is really "big" light, meaning the source is of a larger dimension, and so illuminates from a large area. When you bounce a light, the light is no longer the source, it merely powers the source, which is the wall or bounce card. Because a wall or card is big, it illuminates from a larger area of incidence, producing what some people call "soft" light. A diffuser that is large accomplishes the same end, but you generally have a bit more control, and more output (depending on the material). The reason you sometimes can get more output with a direct light through a diffusion is because you can get the source closer to the subject, and the light illuminating the diffuser doesn't have to travel as far. If you put up a diffuser and put a light close to it so a small circle of the material is illuminated, you aren't getting much in the way of softness. If you move the light further back and light more of the material the light will appear "softer" because the source (the light pattern on the diffuser) has gotten larger. It is easy to experiment with this and see for yourself. Semi opaque white shower curtain makes a great cheap diffuser. Stretch it tight and staple it to a large frame, and trim it up. I've used it plenty, and it works well. Remember, it's size that matters, not so much the material, as long as the material "lights up" instead of transmitting the light rays directly.
When you make big light, you usually need big modifiers or flags. Foam core works well, or even cardboard. The further the card from the source the "harder" the cut. You can take a big piece of cardboard and cut a life size hole in it, this will let you have soft light on the subject and cut down on everything else. There is of course, a lot to it, and if you were here I could take you in to the studio and show you all the little tricks, but since that isn't possible, experimenting for yourself using the ideas I have outlined is still pretty strong.
Maybe I should do a wire tape and rubber band lighting video....
Last edited by JBrunner; 12-24-2008 at 09:55 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Second-hand followspots can be quite cheap, and appear on the auction sites all the time. But if you want to experiment with hard light without spending a lot of money, and don't mind having a bit less power and control than a followspot, the easy place to start is an old slide projector. You may well even have one already...
Originally Posted by CBG
No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.
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Don't forget at least one black 'reflector'. Smallish light spaces often have too much light. Using dark panels you can deepen shadows that would otherwise be filled with stray reflected light.
Many years ago I had to extemporize a portrait setup. I had a couple of tripods, a pair of flashguns. I cut some card panels, covered one with aluminium foil and left the other white. I used some metal angle to make brackets to mount the panels on the tripods with the flashguns. One hard, one soft reflector. Worked pretty well with a test film to gauge the effective light loss in advance.
I feel, therefore I photograph.
buy some cheap hotshoe flashes and optical slaves, use tripods if you have them for stands, make grids outa black drinking straws, card board softboxes, white umbrellas from a 1 dollar kida store.
i built my 3 sunpak flash system for less than 30 euro and its just perfect
forget hotlamps, there just too limiting and hot
i use one 500 watt hotlamp for paper 10x8" shots, i get 15 seconds at f22 and i just move the lamp around the subject
now thats just good fun
Last edited by paulie; 02-20-2010 at 03:10 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Unless the strobes have modeling lights, its rolling the dice to get the light right. Hot lights, while not the most desirable method, are best for a beginner so they can see the results before pulling the trigger.s
If affordable, pick up so low price mono lights with modeling lights.
Anyone try CFLs in their hot lights? If you don't shoot color, it would seem to be a pretty sweet deal. You could have more light and much less heat.
I made a dual purpose reflector out of white foam core; a used lawn sale sign.
It had a natural bend to it with the convex side being covered with writing. I taped matte aluminum foil over that.
Worked great and I kept it for about 5 years. Nice for outdoor and indoor portraits holding it close as I can to a face right outside of the camera's view.