Optical sensors are a cheap way to trigger slave flashes if you don’t want to pay for a wireless transmitter, but the fact that you’re firing your on-board flash to trigger the sensors limits your creative options. Flickr user Victor came up with the idea of turning an on-camera flash unit into an infrared transmitter by covering up the flash with a filter. The filter is simply a piece of processed (but unexposed) E6 slide film — it blocks visible light, making it completely black, but allows infrared light to pass through and trigger optical sensors.
In this video, UK photography instructor Damien Lovegrove demonstrates how you can add some pseudo-sunlight to portraits by simply placing some weeds or part of a bush — which he calls a “dingle” — between an off-camera flash and your subject.
To promote its new Xperia phones, Sony hosted a three-day hackathon on a boat to see what creative innovations people could come up with. One of the hackers decided to make a flamethrower-style flash (seen at 2:26), triggering a gas flame to flare whenever a photograph is taken with the phone. Maybe this’ll start a fire-lighting trend in professional photo studios…
About a year ago, engineer and photo-enthusiast Morten Hjerde began brainstorming ideas for the next generation of photographic lighting after concluding that most of the lights used by photographers these days are simply glorified light bulbs.
Using embedded electronics and microprocessor programming, he set out to explore ways to create a different kind of light. A light that would go where the current lights could not go. Exploring the possibility and feasibility of actual digital light. Light that could be pushed and tweaked like you push and tweak the pixels on your computer screen. [#]
He set up a company called Rift Labs, and decided to open source the design and software involved in creating this digital light source. The video above provides some interesting background on the project.
Here’s a helpful tutorial that teaches how to shoot in harsh, midday sunlight using a single reflector to soften the shadows on your subject. If you’ve never used a reflector outdoors before, it’s a great primer for getting started. Aside from buying a nice reflector for about $30, you can also find cheap ones for under $10 on eBay, use a car sun shade, or make one yourself with cardboard and foil.
Photographer Don Barnard made this video tutorial showing how to convert a styrofoam shipping box into a DIY softbox. The video is pretty in-depth and runs nearly 10 minutes, but the basic idea is to line the inside of the box with some reflective material, stick a strong light inside, and cover it with some cloth to soften the light. It’s a neat way to make a useful lighting tool for under $20. Check out some sample photos taken with the softbox here.
The Coleman LED Quad Lantern is an area lantern that features four detachable LED panels that function as individual lights, with each one containing six LEDs, a handle, and a rechargeable battery. While it’s designed for outdoor use (e.g. camping), it can also be used as a cheap solution for lighting your photos on the go. Read more…
Here’s a quick video tutorial by Olivia Speranza teaching how to create an infinite white background.
It’s possible to build this entire setup with white fabric, and cheap halogen shop lights or household tungsten bulbs, but after you add everything together, these [compact fluorescent lights] don’t seem like such a bad deal. Especially since they won’t generate as much heat or draw excessive power that can blow out household fuses. [#]
The trick is to light your background and subject separately, exposing for your subject so that the background is slightly blown out, showing as pure white.