As I’ve mentioned before, I love Strobist super DIY photo guru, David Hobby. His blog, Strobist.com is a daily inspiration for me. When I got my first digital SLR, about a year and a half ago, I spent most of my time sculking about in the alleyways of my city, photographing “hidden treasures” that I’d find. This “derelict” phase stopped abruptly in July 2007, about 10 days into the 88 day Vancouver city garbage strike.
I then moved my attention to things that smelt nicer like cupcakes, Pez, & trees. And after a few months of photographing happy shiny things, I worked up enough courage to photograph real live people who were not always happy or shiny. My main lighting techniques were:
- Natural light is your best friend;
- A big window on a sunny or partially cloudy day is your second best friend;
- Low light? Open the aperture as wide as that sucker will go. f1.4 is money;
- Cheap whiteboard makes a really nice bounce.
During this time, I experimented with using my behemoth of a flash, the 580ex. But, it was so heavy, I always regretted bringing it out to live performances, and frankly it scared people, and now I have no friends. That’s an exaggeration. I have a few friends, it’s just they seldom talk to me.
In the last six months, I’ve started to the long journey to master off-camera flash setups in order to exploring light more and create cool fashion, modeling, and artsy shoots. The trouble is that I need to make these setups for cheap as I only found $1.45 in the crooks and crannies of my sofa.
Using Strobist’s awesome DIY projects as inspiration, I am starting a new series on Mostly Lisa entitled: DIY Photography tips for the Thrifty and Unrich.
For the first shoot I wanted to do something a bit moodier than a typical modeling/acting headshot using an off-camera flash, some hard reflective surfaces (both portable and non) and a wee bit of creativity and smarts.
How we did it:
For these two shots, we had two Canon speedlights (430ex and 580ex) with Stofen Omnibounces at the same height as the subject, pointed straight up to give a “bare bulb” effect that would simultaneously blow out the background (a white wall in my living room) and light up the two 2’x3′ pieces of whiteboard in front of the photographer’s face (just out of frame) as fill.
The flashes were triggered with two cheap and untrustworthy Gadget Infinity remotes and were at 1/8 power, with the 580ex maybe less two thirds of a stop because it’s a more powerful unit. We started shooting at f1.4, but the focus was a bit soft in the above photo, so we bumped it up to f2.8 and added the second flash to create edge highlights (as you can tell by the highlights on both sides of my hair).
One whiteboard was clamped to another lightstand with a couple $4 Home Depot clamps duct taped together to make a two-way clamp and the other (actually two boards taped together) was standing up on a nearby shelf (like a Christmas card). The camera was handheld just behind and in the middle of the two bounces.
Some Levels and Color Balance adjustments were made in Photoshop to enrich the blacks, push the highlights up some more, and warm up the whole image a little bit. No retouching was done on the computer-induced-big-black-bags-under-my-eyes. Not one bit.
If you have any cool off camera flashy photos that you’ve experimented with, link them in the comments!
Or if this is all waaaaay too technical for you you can just answer one question:
What camera do you use?
I’m actually really interested what camera everyone has – even if it’s not a fancy smancy one. So, talk camera nerdy to me!