Fold-down studio reflector panels
I've mentioned this setup in a couple of lighting threads on APUG, but haven't posted a shot yet. This is a method of making foamcore studio reflectors that are inexpensive, easy to find materials for, reasonably large, and will fold down much smaller and store easily.
In the US, there are commonly available 'project display boards', found at office supply, education, and craft supply shops. They are now often made of foamcore material, and are 36 inches tall, 24 inches wide, and have 12 inch wide 'wings' on either side. They are designed to stand on their own as backdrops for table top project displays. They come in multiple colors, black and white being the most useful in studio photography.
My idea was to take two of these and stack them vertically. I first align the back edges, opposite the side into which the 'wings' fold and apply a tape hinge (colored duct tape or similar) while holding the two backgrounds firmly together. Then I fold them back-to-back (as with the black pair shown in the attached photo) and wrap a clear packing tape hinge over the already taped edge. This aligns the backgrounds to stack edge-to-edge and still permits them to fold flat back-to-back. I then apply adhesive velcro loop material to the matching 'wing' corners of the top and bottom pieces on the 'back' side, and then cut a piece of velcro hook material to hold the wings aligned when stacked. You can see this on the black pieces. When folded down, they become a 4-ply 24" x 36" stack. I also have a small 'filler' attachment that I can add on when I need full ceiling height.
Now the assembly can be opened up, the wings velcroed together, and the stack will stand independently with a wingspan of about 5 feet and height of 6 feet. You can use a white version as a fill reflector, a panel to bounce light from for a large diffuse source, or as a large gobo. A black panel makes a great large gobo or can kill light to one side for higher lighting ratios. The 'wings' can be closed or opened to make the width vary as needed. If there's a lot of air movement in your setting or people rushing around, you might want to put metal clamps on the bottoms of the 'wings' or a light stand behind the assembly to stablilize it and prevent it from falling over.
I've also cut an 18x22 inch window in a black panel so that I can velcro standard 20x24 inch diffusion gel material over the opening to act as a sort of softbox with a selection of replaceable diffusion materials. The 'wings' positioned toward the light source can help to kill spill light in this configuration.
I thought others with tight storage and limited budgets might find this idea useful, and I wouldn't be surprised if others have already thought of it.
Last edited by Lee L; 01-08-2009 at 01:42 PM. Click to view previous post history.