Photographer Joseph Nienstedt was at a grocery store recently when he spotted a $4 plastic flask that reminded him of a curved light modifier he had seen before. After buying it and transforming it into a diffuser using a razor, Nienstedt discovered that it provided softer light than his Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce due to the 5x larger surface area. While it’s not a very respectable look for a professional environment, using a plastic bottle as a DIY diffuser could be an option if you’re in a pinch or if you’d like to experiment with lighting.
Head on over to Nienstedt’s blog post for a step-by-step guide.
For their music video for the song “Bright Siren“, Japanese band androp created a mind-blowing giant display using Canon 60D DSLRs and strobes as the individual pixels. They used 250 separate cameras and flash units, and controlled each one individually using a computer program. Every single light used was real, and no computer-generated trickery was used. You can also check out the behind-the-scenes video they made.
Did you know that the original Star Wars lightsaber was made using antique camera parts?
For A New Hope, the original film prop hilts were constructed by John Stears from old press camera flash battery packs and other pieces of hardware. [#] The 3-cell Graflex flashgun was modified and used as the prop for Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber in Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. A black grip was added and the circular bulb housing was obviously removed, but little else was changed to create the lightsaber prop. [#]
Do a search on eBay and you’ll find plenty of people selling these flash units as “lightsabers”.
Olympus unveiled a boatload of Micro Four Thirds gear this morning, including three new PEN cameras, two new prime lenses, and a flash. All three cameras pack a 12.3 megapixel sensor with ISO that goes up to 12,800, a speedy new autofocus system (the “world’s fastest”), and 1080i HD video recording. The E-P3 (shown above), the flagship camera of the PEN line, features an all-metal body, a pop-up flash, and an OLED touchscreen. It’ll cost you $900 when it’s out in August 2011. Read more…
Just because you use the built-in flash on your compact camera doesn’t mean you need to live with harsh, direct lighting. Here’s a quick video tutorial teaching how to use any small white card (e.g. a piece of scrap paper or a business card) to easily bounce your flash and soften the lightning.
If you’ve used your flash for quite a while, you may have noticed some yellowish haze where the plastic has oxidized. For flash units that have a smooth surface, here’s a pro tip: you can make it shine again by simply dabbing a little toothpaste onto a cloth and wiping off the haze in a circular motion. Read more…
Online SLR Camera Simulator is a neat flash app that helps teach the fundamentals of using an SLR camera by letting you tweak different variables and settings, then showing you what the resulting photograph would look like. It’s a great way for any beginner to become more familiar with a camera’s controls, though nothing beats going out and practicing by taking real photos — though this app would have been a lifesaver before the digital era.
If Doctor Octopus were to design a DIY flash accessory, it might look a little something like this. German microbiologist Marcell Nikolausz has been experimenting with using fiber optics to split a single flash unit’s light into multiple light sources. Optical fibers are threaded through Gorillapod-style Loc-Line channels, allowing flexible and stable positioning of the light sources. Each individual light source can be controlled using various modifiers (e.g. diffusers, gels, etc..), changing their quality and intensity.
For some sample photographs taken with this contraption, check out this set of photos. You can also learn more about Nikolausz’s experimentation on his blog.
No, this isn’t some advanced beam weapon from a sci-fi flick. It’s actually a do-it-yourself ring flash created using 150 optical fibers, with one end wrapped over the pop-up flash of the DSLR and the other end spitting out the photons in a ring-shape. If you want to learn how to make your own, here’s an in-depth writeup on how this was constructed.