I have had some DA friends ask for me to post notes on the makeshift Studio and PP for my dpchallenge Circle II submission titled Painting WonderMint [link]
This is the first installment detailing some studio set-up and notes on lighting.
The bottom row is some shots of the makeshift studio I built in my garage.
Note: Painting WonderMint is like and unlike Fixing a Hole. Fixing a Hole was an outdoor shot that greatly used natural light and needed far less PP. Painting WonderMint needed to be a full body shot which would not have worked in the same location as Fixing a Hole because of plants and water sprinklers. Thus the need came to make a makeshift studo or a small studo-sized 'lightbox".
The starlight mints were 2 x 2 holiday decorations that were enlarged in photocopy to about 8.5 x 8.5. I then cut them out and carefully outlined the edges with a black sharpie for the outline to stand out. I then taped them to the wall. The mylar balloon was also a holiday decoration I purchased months ago and is taped to the wall so it would stay in place.
I used two extra large white tablecloths hung from the ceiling with some strong fishing line and planting eyehooks screwed into the ceiling. One tablecloth was placed on the side between the door and the center draped tablecloth .
The center draped table cloth was hung 4 feet away from the back white wall. I cut a 5 inch by 5 inch hole in the center tablecloth to allow just the camera lens and the flash unit to peek through. I use both these tablecloths for photo shoots so I was fine with sacrificing one of them to have the hole in because this is a set-up I can use in the future.
I did not have another white tablecloth to hang on the right hand side so I hung my other black velvet photography cloth on that side. That proved to be a mistake I had to correct in Post-Processing with the clone tool as that you can see that it is reflected in the mylar balloon.
Lastly I also laid a large white tablecloth on the ground so that it too would bounce the light from the flash.
Now notes on lighting.
First off, white reflects light so I used that highly to my advantage. Using the white reflective quality of the back wall, the garage door, the garage ceiling, the tablecloth on the ground, and the two tablecloths hanging from the ceiling created a small studio sized "lightbox". This "lightbox" set-up allowed the light from the flash & the natural light streaming in through the open garage door to bounce around and illuminate all the objects.
I took great care to hang the center drape 4 feet from the back wall with the decorations. The reason is that this ensured that the light from the flash would 'bounce' around and reflect back from the wall to better illuminate all objects within. Typically the effectiveness of the flash unit attached to your camera drops off at an exponential rate after 6 feet from the subject.
It was also important to utilize a tripod to stabilize the camera to allow for a slower shutter speed.
The top row shows a few of the test shots and an early attempt at the final shot. All shots have notes of shutter speed, aperture setting, and ISO. As you can see the first one has an aperture opening of 2.4 to allow the maximum amount of light to come in. The shutter speed is at 1/3 of a sec. As you can see from the shot it overexposed the objects. The one on the far right is at 2.4 aperture and 1/10 of a sec. shutter speed. The tones & details on this one are perfectly exposed.
The middle row demonstrates how the time of day can effect the lighting. In the first row, it was around noon and after 15 minutes of shooting it grew hot that my youngest child (the model in the shot) and I needed to take a break. About 1 hour later we returned to the "studio". The sun had moved position and the natural light streaming in through the garage was not as strong. Using bracketing I shot 20-30 shots using a shutter speed from 1/3 to 1/10 of a sec.
The middle left is the shot I ended up utilizing mainly because it had the correct pose for the composition (working with child models is challenging I might add) and while the lighting is not perfect was something I could work with in Post Processing.
***Notes: All materials are things I already had around the house. I could have bought a large roll of white paper from a photography supply store to use as the background - but I had a tight deadline and it would not be delivered on time. Not to mention if you have to operate on a shoestring budget use what you have to the greatest of your ability - if you have the skill and the tools you CAN use Post Processing to correct lighting and some compositional elements. Also, had I had the time, I could have gone to Home Depot or Lowe's (the poor photographer's studio lighting supply store
) to pick up some lights (if they are in stock) to strategically place at 45 degree angles and one angled up to the ceiling to get a better studio lighting look and feel.
In the next few days I will post a Before & After shot with some steps of what I did to accomplish the final look.