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!

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