Tuesday, January 03, 2012

DIY Photo Studio

One of my favorite things I learned during this portfolio process was how to solve some of my own problems.  With the deadline being shortly after the holidays I could not ask to impose on any of my photographer friends to help me with my portfolio images.  I had to get inventive.  I got some advice through e.mail from several of them and went through a lot of trial and error. The best looking thing would of been white foam board.  The hard thing was finding it large enough to be useful as a background without awkward seams.  Then I tried a fabric tarp but the wrinkles in it made it useless.  Finally on a hunt for larger foam board I bought a roll of extra white background paper from Midwest Photo Exchange.  I was a little wary to spend the $30 but I figured if that is the most I need to spend to make these photos amazing then it won't be that bad.

 It worked flawlessly after I set it up with some ingenuity.  I hung the paper across another longer tube on the inside so it would roll along easier and the cord wouldn't catch the edges of the paper to tear it (which I learned after attempt #2).  On the far Wall I nailed in large headed main on each side giving about 3-4" of space from the end of the paper to allow it to have some drape.  I also put folded pieces of paper between the string and background paper where it would rub and possibly tear.  This helped to make it easier to move the paper over the line and keep it from tearing.   Being able to have the white background on both the top, back and bottom essentially made a light box so my clamp lights had a much more dynamic effect.  I used my too small foam boards as deflectors on either side to help direct the light onto the garments and items while I was taking pictures of them.

For light I just used two clamp lights with ultra bright white fluorescent bulbs which I clipped to various areas to get the lighting and to bounce them off the white foam boards.  I also took all the photos with the flash off (I'm not a fan of using flash anyways).
In this photo you can see how I suspended the background paper.  I used small screw hooks.  Eventually I would like to replace the cord with Chain so that I won't have to worry about it all collapsing on me as it did one time.  That way it would also be easily adjustable.  The other main thing I did was used a tripod for taking all the photos and a shutter release controller.  No matter how stead your hand is you don't wan to take chances and in the end it will save you more time having the most stable pictures as possible.  Even triggering the release by pressing the button on your camera can cause it to be slightly out of focus of move it off center.

You can see my results in this photo. Not too shabby for a beginner photographer.

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