Virtual Lighting Studio is an awesome new free studio lighting simulator that doesn’t require any installation — you use it directly in your browser. It offers a large number of options for customizing your setup (e.g. number of lights, light type, gel, positioning) and the result is updated in real-time on the virtual model’s head.
Not too long ago I finally got around to picking up a decent manual flash for exploring lighting and speedlight techniques. I picked up a Yongnuo YN-560 Speedlight Flash for Canon and Nikon, and my friend Sean was kind enough to send me his old radio triggers to play with. I was mostly all set to start exploring the world of off-camera lighting… Read more…
Photographer Allen Mowery has a step-by-step tutorial on how to build a useful DIY flash mounting accessory using a ratcheting hand clamp and standard 1/4-inch threaded screw. It’s a cheap DIY version of the Super Clamp or Nasty Clamp, and can help you place your flash in places that are inaccessible to light stands or traditional equipment.
Photography enthusiast Kris Robinson used to handhold a flash above his subjects for macro photographs, but then he got tired of doing that and ran out of hands. He then came up with the brilliant idea of making a do-it-yourself contraption that attaches to his flash when it’s mounted to the hotshoe. The light travels down a tube lined with reflective aluminum tape, and is bounced downward onto the subject through a diffused lightbox. For a couple sample shots, see here and here.
P.S. Robinson also offers a tip for shooting macro photos of insects: if you place them into your freezer for a minute or two, they’ll sit nice and still for a while before warming up and scurrying away.
Image credit: IMG_0495 by Kris Robinson and used with permission
David Hobby has written up a great post over at Strobist on how he avoids shoot-ruining confrontations with police officers when shooting in public locations (we shared an example of a confrontation yesterday). His tricks include calling the police ahead of time and leaving notes on the doors of houses nearby:
Before I shoot (a couple hours, usually) I call into the duty officer of the local precinct. I tell them my name, that I am a photographer, and where/when I will be shooting. I explain that, just in case some overenthusiastic passerby calls me in as a suspicious person, I just want to save them a call. I offer them my cell number, and ask if they want my sosh or driver’s license number. I have never been taken up on this, but I would happily give it.
[…] I print up a sheet and stick it in everyone’s door who is within eyeshot of the shoot at night. Because believe-you-me, it you are popping flashes in the woods at 2am, some idiot will absolutely call your butt in. To them, it’s gotta look pretty much like Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Some of you might not like these tips because they appear to be the equivalent of putting up a white flag in the fight for photographers’ rights, but they may come in handy if one day you have a critical photo shoot that you can’t afford to have interrupted.
For those of you who are interested in the fine art of studio lighting, here’s a video in which American celebrity photographer George Holz talks about how he went about photographing Beyonce for the cover of Spin magazine.
You can make yourself a quick and simple snoot by cutting off the upper portion of a soda bottle and covering it with gaffer tape. While it’s definitely not the most elegant solution, it’s a cheap way to isolate your subject when shooting with a flash unit.
If you have a potato chip tube lying around, you can convert the tube into a super simple DIY snoot. All you need to do is cut an opening in the closed end that’s the size of your flash head (tip: use some duct tape to prevent it from scratching your flash). Read more…
Photographer Jesse Rosten wanted a more efficient and mobile way to do off-camera lighting, so he invented this backpack-style apparatus that he calls “The Strobist Jet Pack”. Although it’s pretty ridiculous looking (it reminds us of Ghostbusters), it works well for placing lighting equipment in exactly the place needed while still being able to move about. Read more…
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.