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Little Light Tip 1401

Sr. Member Posts: 329
Little Light Tip
« on: March 16, 2008, 04:12:46 AM »
I was just reading another thread, and the gent was having some trouble taking some photos. There was much discussion of lights and such...

The tip is this: you don't need a $250 softbox, photo light, etc. from the local photo store. While those things can come in very handy from time to time, and the very very expensive ones that are used as strobes have their incredible uses, you can get by by spending much much less.

What you need is a desk-lamp or something that has a nice head that can turn and move. Most people have lights with a head on a flex-shaft that cost them all of $10 at their favorite store. Then you pop down to the local photo store that stocks all the pro gear, and ask for a nice white photo bulb. These bulbs cost anywhere between $3-$20 but the ones you'll need are less than 10. Just get a hundred watter for example. These bulbs create a WHITE white and even tone everywhere they throw. If you want to get really adventurous, get some white primer and paint the entire inside of the light cavity, where the light goes. This will keep goofy reflections from showing.

To make a cheap softbox, you have two options but either way all you need to do is build a frame, maybe 2' x 3' x 1'. Cardboard boxes work just fine.
Get some good quality white fabric and staple an a little tab end on the outside of the box. Set the box open side up on a table, and drape the fabric over the top of the box. Push in and staple the fabric in at least two places inside the box, creating a little bowl. Staple tabs on the outside of the box again, and what you will have is a reverse softbox that you can bounce light off of with one or two lamps (with photo bulbs). Place the lamps for example on opposite corners pointing into the bowl that you created. Obviously the box will be upside down with the open side facing the thing you're photographing. If you have any problems with parts of the bowl drooping and creating shadows, just add staples. Rinse, repeat. For a little extra kick get a little primer and paint the staples so they don't cause little hotspots.

The other option is a direct softbox. Use another somewhat smaller, and preferably square cardboard box or boxed frame, and paint every inside surface with white primer. (I suggest primer cause it's cheap and matte...use whatever white paint you have at hand as long as it isn't glossy) Cut out an area for your light head to fit in. You don't have to stick the whole head in, just enough that the light shines into the box and not outside it. (if your light gets hot you can either just manage the time you have it on, or even cut a couple of small vent holes in the corners) Get another piece of white fabric and stretch it tight across the open surface of the box. Staple as needed on the outside of the box, so that you have a taught surface. Point the box at whatever you're shooting for smooth even light.

You can use both of these lights at the same time for both direct and ambient light, or you can use the direct softbox to avoid shadows. The indirect softbox provides a nice even ambient light.

Just to be clear, Materials:
Two cardboard boxes or boxes you build; one rectangular (when using two lights) and one square, or two square
White primer
Staples
Photo bulbs
High quality white fabric, the higher the thread count the better. An old humbedy humbedy gadzillion thread count sheet that you spilled coffee on the corner of will work very well.
A few desklamps
Beer

Edit: actually that was three tips....
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,276
Re: Little Light Tip
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2008, 04:16:51 AM »
There are special white photo bulbs? ???

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Sr. Member Posts: 329
Re: Little Light Tip
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2008, 04:20:27 AM »
Indeed there are.
To be honest, you don't desperately need one, but if you're having problems with white balance and so on, it really makes things easy. Plus they throw out more even light. You can also get very powerful ones, but it's up to you to figure out if your el-cheapo light can give the bulb enough power without burning your house down, I take no responsibility.  :ahhh
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,276
Re: Little Light Tip
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2008, 04:26:47 AM »
Thanks, I'll see about getting a couple of those! (Lesser powered ones, of course!) :P   

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Global Tuffy Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 28,078 Just Awesome! And a Slayer of Polar Bear!
Re: Little Light Tip
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2008, 11:53:57 AM »
Indeed there are.
To be honest, you don't desperately need one, but if you're having problems with white balance and so on, it really makes things easy. Plus they throw out more even light. You can also get very powerful ones, but it's up to you to figure out if your el-cheapo light can give the bulb enough power without burning your house down, I take no responsibility.  :ahhh

That is one area I am struggling with.  Might have to invest in a bulb then.  :)  Thanks for the tip.

I'm back!!
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,249
Re: Little Light Tip
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2008, 09:22:03 PM »
Ben, that S3IS has white balance calibration on it.  All you have to do is take a picture of a white sheet of paper under the lighting you want to use, and it will set the white balance for that environment.

- Terry

Burn the land and boil the sea, you can't take the sky from me...
Global Tuffy Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 28,078 Just Awesome! And a Slayer of Polar Bear!
Re: Little Light Tip
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2008, 09:23:25 PM »
Ben, that S3IS has white balance calibration on it.  All you have to do is take a picture of a white sheet of paper under the lighting you want to use, and it will set the white balance for that environment.

I knew that.  :-\ :P

Thanks pal I will give that a go.  :)

I'm back!!

 

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