Jun 22, 2011

Fun light on the cheap

I thought it would be fun to try a photo setup on the cheap just to play around a little bit. It was basically a step back three years to before I started collecting lighting gear.

The idea was for some fresh baby pictures as Joshua hit 10 weeks old today. He can sort of sit up, so I wanted to put him in this old wingback that I inherited from my grandparents.
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Since he looks at the light instead of the camera, the photo in my head will have to wait a few months.

Anway, here is what I did to make fun light cheaply.

Using ideas gleaned from years of reading Strobist and Joe McNally had me putting some sticks in buckets to hold up two white trash bags that had been split open and taped together to make a big diffusion panel. Behind that, a single 55 watt compact fluorescent bulb in a clamp lamp bulb holder. Simple as can be.
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Well, simple is a relative term I suppose. It is actually a real pain to gather all of the things to put this together. Cutting up trash bags, using lots of clamps and chairs to put things where you want them... lets just say that we pay money for easy-to-use gear for a reason.

But light is still light, regardless of the money spent to produce it.
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Joshua got tired of the chair very quickly, so I moved the setup to the floor. Same concept... a directional, somewhat diffused light source just makes pictures more interesting.
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Tried some fun background materials.. like a rug thing from Peru..
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And different angles relative to the light. One big downside is that adjusting anything is difficult. It is easier to move the subject around than move the lights.
This is shooting from ground level, putting the camera directly under the diffusion panel.
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Little detail shots pop nicely with fun light...
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And to really make it all worthwhile, the lovely wife joined in for some shots. The light setup is just out of frame above their heads.
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The up side? Making fun lighting setups doesn't require dedicated photo gear and lots of money. You can have a lot of fun with flashlights.

The down side? It isn't all that bright and takes a lot of time and effort to set up. If you are using a point-and-shoot camera, you will want to use lots of light behind the diffuser to get decent shutter speed. 500w halogen work lights do the trick well, but they will heat up the room in a hurry.

Have fun making some pictures!

Jun 21, 2011

Coach shots - refined

OK, with some extra time to refine yesterday's setup, I finally got it about where I want it to be for the rest of the coach head shots.

Here is the new setup... similar to yesterday, but the flag is now on the background stand and lit with the same flash/grid setup, but now hitting from behind the flag. Only 10' between the softbox in front and the background... the wide angle lens makes it look further.
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Tighten up the background with the 70-200 and voila..
Full frame almost straight out of the camera (Lightroom auto output sharpening when I resized and added the watermark)
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I like the light a lot, and I hope it reproduces well in the paper. Hard to say when it goes black and white.. could use a little more defining highlights for that. I do like the look of the flag better with the light coming through from the back.

And a little tighter crop with more processing.
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I'm still not sold on the tiger paw as a backdrop, but it is what we will use for this series of coach shots anyway.


Don J.

Jun 20, 2011

Quick Portrait setup- Coaches

We have a new slate of coaches coming to Terrell this year, something that a lot of people in town are interested to know about.
As we work on features about the coaches, of course we need some head shots to use throughout the year.
In trying to come up with a concept to take a decent shot of each coach, I thought about our 'Tiger Paw' flag that we fly at the Tribune on home-game Fridays.... instant backdrop.

The time for the first interview snuck up on me so I did not have everything ready to go when new offensive coordinator Henry Hill came in today, so I made the setup quick.

The flag went on the wall, lit in the center by one Elinchrom bxri500 monolight with a 10 degree grid to center the light on the paw print.
Coach Hill (1 of 4)

After that, it was just a matter of setting up a small softbox and reflector for the subjects about 10' in front of the flag. The 70-200mm lens did the trick to draw it all together.
Coach Hill (2 of 4)

Unfortunately, the tiger paw really doesn't work as a tight head shot... it just sort of grows out of his head.

WIth more background included, it is a little better.
Coach Hill

I will try some adjustments to the setup and share those later this week.

Jun 10, 2011

Old machinery

There is something beautiful about old machinery. Everything is so purposeful and strong, but somehow that leads to beautiful lines and classic design elements that are merely decoration anymore.

So I'm looking forward to getting out to the North Texas Antique Tractor and Engine Club's annual show in Terrell this weekend with dad. (Here is last years post)

Along with the classic toys are classic tales from old guys that have been there, done that, lived to tell the tale and maybe even add a few new twists in the retelling.

From the looks of the tractors and machines rolling into the park on Friday, there will be plenty of new old stuff to look at.
1947 Allis-Chalmers

Jun 7, 2011

7 on 7 football

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Terrell is playing in the Kaufman 7-on-7 football league this summer, which is generally a lot of fun to shoot photos of.

The upsides -
Good lighting. Plenty of beautiful evening sun for good shutter speeds, neat shadows and nice face detail. No helmets in the way.

Great action. Every play is a pass and a chance for a great leaping catch or interception.

The kids really get into it too, making for nice expressions. It is also a very relaxed, fun atmosphere most of the time.

The downsides? Takes away your Tuesday evenings.

But if you want some action shooting practice, this is tough to beat. If you shoot football in the fall, it is great to work on timing your shots.