If you want to shoot photos of objects and products with little to no shadows, then one of the simplest ways to do it is with a light box or light tent. This is a white box with an opening in the front and with translucent white panels on each side that allows bright diffused light to bathe the subject in what can be a shadowless lighting effect.
The guys over at DIY Tryin created a tutorial video on hacking together your own light box/tent on the cheap. What they try to emphasize is diffusion. In order for a light tent to really work, you need to diffuse the light coming in from all sides. But as they were able to demonstrate, the light is so diffused that they can shoot an image with their phone and get something very diffused.
For what it’s worth, we would rather recommend having a three light setup than a two light setup. We would place two lights on each side and one on the back with the back lighting being cranked up to turn the background into pure white. An alternative is to have a very high powered strobe firing in from the top of the lightbox with a translucent reflector diffusing the light.
Their tutorial on making your own DIY light tent is after the jump.
[click to continue…]
Hot shoe flashes, known as speedlites (or speedlights) are incredibly capable little flashes that can put just the right amount of light in the right spot. While it’s a very well known fact that studio strobes can deliver much more light output, they aren’t as portable or nimble as speedlights. However, there is much more that you can do to get more out of them just by tweaking some settings in your camera or working with it in a different way.
This is how to get more out of your speedlight.
They have to be the most underused and overlooked light modifiers out there, but reflectors are also some of the most useful that every photographer should include in their kit. They come in many different shapes, sizes and colors to help you accomplish exactly what you need to do. Adding reflectors are also often a much better alternative to filling in shadows than slowing down your shutter speed is.
Photographer Joel Grimes recently did a video with Westcott featuring their Rapid Box (which we weren’t the biggest fans of) and showing us how a single light positioned above and in front of a model can illuminate them very well but can leave shadows under their chin–which can sometimes make the model look not as flattering depending on the situation. In the one presented in the video, it isn’t that terrible at all.
However, Joel also adds a reflector to the show and shows us a comparison between the two–and effectively demonstrates how the shadows are mostly eliminated.
What’s also important though is the model’s stance and pose. If you look at her during one of the side shots, you can see a bit of Peter Hurley’s influence in the way she sticks the chin out.
Joel’s video with Westcott on how reflectors kill shadows is after the jump.
Via ISO 1200
[click to continue…]
When it comes to working with a flash during the daytime, one of the best ways to do this and ensure that your entire exposure isn’t blown out is to use an ND filter. To begin with, you’re supposed to use flash during the daytime to prevent shadows. You’ll start by positioning the sun behind your subject–but if you’re just working with ambient lighting then you’ll have blown out skies. And that method of backlighting is totally fine if you want that look.
But if you want to balance the background with your subject in the foreground, the best bet is to use a flash. One option is high speed sync or a fast flash duration, but one method that photographers have been using for years is the ND filter. We’ve used it too, but photographer Craig Beckta demonstrated this very well in the video below that shows the difference that an ND filter can make.
One big warning though: an ND filter can also affect your camera’s autofocusing abilities because it cuts down the amount of light in the scene that the sensor sees until the flash goes off.
Try it this weekend, and check out Craig’s video on using an ND filter to balance ambient light and strobe after the jump.
[click to continue…]
Want more useful photography tips? Click here.
Yes, many of you photographers love to complain about vignetting. But you can actually embrace it and use it creatively. We’ve talked about proper techniques to making your images look sharper and making colors pop out more, but another way to emphasize a subject more in an image is to add a vignette to it. Chances are that based on your composition of a scene, the subject will be somewhere around the center or on one of the intersecting points of the rule of thirds. A vignette will make someone stare at your image and complete ignore the blacked out areas.
Of course, this doesn’t need to be a heavy vignette but we can’t tell you how many times we’ve used vignettes on product photos on this site and not a single person has sat there and complained.
If your creative vision calls for it, light vignetting can be a great thing and because of the way the human eye works, it will put higher emphasis on your subject in addition to making them pop out more on a screen or on print.
Beyond this, we recommend bumping up the contrast and tweaking the black levels. But those are all part of the process involving making your images look sharper that we linked to above.
Give it a try: and don’t be afraid to do something that the mainstream may say otherwise.
Image courtesy of the Flash Adapter website
We don’t think we’ve ever encountered something this special ops looking in the photo world, but this new Macro Flash Adapter may take the cake. It has an incredibly interesting design that takes light from your hot shoe mounted flash and distributes it to the four panels that you see. It is much different from the contemporary ring flash adapter which ideally is in the shape of a perfect ring. But this adapter fills in the sides, top, and the direct light. This takes the light from a single flash and spreads it out over a smaller area compared to a ring flash but puts the light in the spots where it really counts. There is no word on how much light loss there is but based on previous ring flashes adapters that we’ve worked with, we’re guessing around a single stop of light loss. If you’re shooting in TTL, then get ready to add +1 EV to your flash output. All of the panel are really big too when talking about objects at the macro scale–so the light will obviously be very soft.
The Flash Adapter is of Polish origin and created by photo enthusiasts Agnieszka and Ernest Lysak.
A video of how this crazy contraption works is after the jump.
[click to continue…]