Saturday, February 19, 2011

Surprising Photography Set-up

I was once voted "most likely to surprise you." And I think you'll be surprised just how simple my photography set-up is. Paper, tape, table. Done.

I have tried building my own light box out of a big cardboard box. It was bulky and in the way, and the lighting was a huge hassle. I got eco-friendly light bulbs that would look like real daylight, I got 4 plug-in clip-on lamps, I got extension cords to plug in all my clip-on lamps, blah blah blah. The receipts had really big numbers on them. It was a hot mess (literally - those lamps heat up quick!).

I have tried building my own light box out of pvc pipe and sheets. First of all, just so ya know, you do not need a 2ft square light box.* :) That's too big! I tried sheer sheets, white sheets, a white shower curtain, all cut to size and attached to my huge pvc pipe frame with zip-ties. Again the project turned out to be expensive, bulky, and didn't improve my photographs.

Taken Outside (and yes it was cold)

So wouldn't you know it, big surprise, sometimes the best solution is the simplest solution. On overcast days I take photographs outside. I have a table, and I tape a sheet of gray matte paper to the banister as a backdrop. Done.

Taken Inside

On any other day I am inside next to a window. With my gray sheet of paper taped to a trash can on top of a table. On inside days I also make use of a mirror propped up to give some reflected light and/or a sheet of sheer tissue paper taped to the window to diffuse direct or bright sunlight.

I recommend a gray paper backdrop over white paper because white paper can be overpowering in its brightness. Gray is neutral and won't reflect the colors of your props like white paper will. Also, depending on your camera's metering settings, the white paper may cause the camera to adjust for a brighter setting. I learned this tidbit from my Dad, who now says that "gray paper is like the third bowl of porridge. Not too hot. Not too cold." He's a brilliant, deep thinker.

So there you have it. A surprisingly simple photography set-up = paper + tape. Mirror is optional.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips, thanks! I'm off to find some grey paper :)