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Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

Water Trick for Photographers

Have you ever wondered how a photographer makes a scene in his or her studio that appears to include water? Sometime it might look like a pond or river of some sort. Well, there is actually a very creative DYI hack for that.

All you will need it:

  1. Aluminum foil
  2. Blue paint

Optional – A coating to put over the paint for shine

Step 1

Rolls out the aluminum on the surface you need to make look like it is some form of water and them cut it to that size.

Step 2

Put it down on a surface suitable to use for painting.

Step 3

Paint a light coating of blue paint over it not worrying if you don’t cover it completely. In fact, small areas of uncover space may be helpful for your scene.

Step 4

Wait until it dries.

Step 5 (Optional step)

Either add a layer of clear coating over it for glossy feel.

When completed you can put this in your scene and using the right settings and lighting, it will look like water.

 

Making A Small Photo Studio For Yourself

Unless photography is our full-time occupation, and even if it is, many of us cannot afford to own a studio space. Sure, we can rent as needed. But if you have the space and aren’t opposed to having clients come to your home, you can easily set up a nice, professional studio without paying a bundle.

Here’s the basics of what you need:

1. Backdrops

You can either order some or make your own. I would suggest getting or designing at least 3, a black, a grey or white and one molted color blue or grey.

2. Lights

If you get steady lights it will be cheaper and you won’t need any triggers or sync tools. If you want to go a little more expensive, you can get strobe units for a reasonable price so long as you aren’t looking for the big brands.

3. Umbrellas

These are more affordable than soft boxes and basically do the same thing. They also come with some lighting units as part of the deal.

4. Accessories

You can check out my upcoming book on how to make your own reflectors, diffusers, product setup and more. I’ll be sure to let you know when it is out.

 

The Universal Gobo – Unlimited Options for Gobo Photos

As you probably realize by now, I enjoy being artistic with my photos. This being the case, one of the tools I find interesting is what are commonly referred to as gobos. I mentioned these in another post as any material that is placed in between the light and the subject to make a pattern out of shadows.

The biggest problem with today’s gobos are that they are big, heavy and tend to allow for just a single pattern making them inconvenient and costly. I recently invented what I call my “Universal Gobo” that solves ever one of these problems.

You can buy our Do It Yourself guide for just $3.00 and the materials should cost you less than $20. This is a lot nicer than paying around $20 each for those available in stores and over the web.

Three tips for working with photography in low-light conditions

Whether you are a professional, advanced armature or just a photography enthusiast, chances are that we’ve all been there – working to make the best shot we can in low-light conditions. It’s no secret that this can be highly challenging and frequently frustrating.   And while there are many things that one might do to help to improve his or her photography in these less than perfect conditions, here are three basic suggestions that may help on their own or at least get you going in the right direction.

low light bridge above water

Use a low F-stop

In low-light conditions you should probably ALWAYS set your aperture to the lowest possible (or close) F number that you can. This will maximize the like that comes in. This has very few drawbacks except for the fact that it can possibly hurt the crispness and detail in the background. In fact, this is one of the simplest things to do to create an intentionally blurred background effect.

Set you camera to a high ISO

Depending upon the type and model camera you use, you may have more or less flexibility here. The lowest ISO options are typical 100 or 200 which can be used in well-lit locations. However, when you increase that number in your settings to say, 400, 800,l 1600, 3200 or more, you increase the camera’s sensitivity to the light that is available to you. The danger here is that the more you move up the scale, the more likely your image will be to have undesirable noise. So, you should be sure to see how your own camera handles increases in ISO as well as take the time to look into getting some form of noise reduction tool.

Try a slower shutter speed

The longer your shutter remains open, the more light that reaches your camera’s sensor. So, opening your shutter for a longer period or time can offset some of the problems with poor lighting. The challenge here is that the slower the shutter speed, the more chance for blur from any moving (even slightly) objects. This can also result form your own minor movements while holding the camera. That being the case, it is recommended that when you slow down the shutter, you should probably use a tripod to stabilize your camera and keep it from moving.

One last bonus tip…

In the event that you don’t already know this, it is a good idea to avoid using the on-camera flash whenever possible. This is because it only has a range of about 6 feet or so and thus is irrelevant for anything in the distance and it also tends to generate harsh light and shadows.

Good luck!

How’d the photographer do that?

Have you ever had a photo capture your eye

and then wonder how the photographer accomplished the effect within that piece of art? For a lot of us, this happens fairly frequently. And if you’re really interested in finding out how that particular image came together, what do you do?

In this digital age, it’s quite possible that your first instinct is to turn to Google or whatever else may be your preferred search engine. However, in many cases, you may not be able to find what you need with a simple “how to” style search. Even if you do get results, there’s a good chance you’ll end up finding some conflicting information. No need to worry though, there is a much easier way to figure out what a you’ll have to do in order to get the qualities you love into images you shoot on your own.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Flickr. For those of you who haven’t, it’s a photo storage and sharing tool with a bit of a social networking quality as well. The site has undergone some awesome visual upgrades lately but one of its coolest features still remains. That would be the ability to see the technical details of each image. With this information, it should be pretty easy to recreate an image similar to those you admire so much.

You’ll be able to tell exactly what shutter speed, aperture, ISO and more is the combination that produces the desired result. All you have to do is go out and find an image (on the site) that you want to emulate and go from there. Sure, some photographers may not like the fact that you can access this info. But the way I see it, it’s like sharing with and learning from other professionals and not really any different than when someone posts a Photoshop tutorial on Youtube. And besides, photographers essentially OK this when they decide to sign up of the site in the first place.

Check out the video I have created below to find out how to access this information for yourself. In this case, I used a model photography shot that I took myself but it works the same for every image throughout the entire site.

Comparing print on demand (POD) calendars

So, in a recent post I mentioned wall calendars. Well, I’m sure most of us know by know that with on demand printing, pretty much anyone with a digital camera and a creative side can easily make their own calendar. With that in mind, to date I have created several and used a number of different printers in the process. This post is essentially a review of those services. And maybe if you are thinking about creating your own wall calendar for the upcoming year, you might just find this helpful.

My scale is based on a 1-5 rating system with one being the worst and five being the best.

custom calendars

POD calendar printers I’ve used:

snapfish logo

Snapfish.com – Overall rating 4/5

Print quality – 4.5/5 This HP affiliates photo calendars are crisp and clear with very few if any drawbacks.

Pricing – 2.5/5 The pricing is a bit excessive as is the shipping. A decent product might cost around $26.00. If International shipping is required, you can tack on an extra $6.00 to that figure. Not real conducive for reselling.

Paper quality – 4/5 Snapfish provides paper similar in thickness to a medium level of card stock.

Shipping time – 4/5 Buyers will likely get their product in less than a week and probably more like 3-5 days

vistaprint logo

Vistaprint.com – Overall rating 2.5/5

Print quality – 2.5/5 The business card specialists should stick to smaller items. The photos come across a bit grainy with some color problems.

Pricing – 3.5/5 Vista Print’s calendars usually run around $18.00 plus shipping. They tend to be in the average range here.

Paper quality – 3/5 The paper is nice and glossy but tends to be rather thin.

Shipping time – 3/5 While copies can take several weeks to arrive, they usually come in a relatively reasonable time frame.

lulu logo

Lulu.com – Overall rating 3/5

Print quality – 2.5/5 Much like Vista print, the quality of images can be rather spotty.

Pricing – 4.5/5 Lulu seems to be the most affordable POD service by far. Full-sized calendars start at less than $14.00. These can easily be used for resale purposes.

Paper quality – 3.5/5 The company uses a heavy stock paper but as stated above it seems to hinder the printing.

Shipping time 3/5 The shipping speed is pretty average overall.

qoop logo

*Qoop.com – Overall rating 3.5/5

Print quality – 3.5/5 Qoop produced fairly nice images from photos with few real problems.

Pricing – 4/5 While not quite as reasonable as Lulu, this company was very much competitive in this area.

Paper quality – 3.5/5  Much like the others, they tended to use a decent medium grade card stock paper.

Shipping time 3/5  The time it took to receive the product was pretty typical.

 

* Qoop.com is now defunct but as I had a positive overall experience with them, I figured it was only right to include them in the list.

Followup To External Flash Diffuser Post

Recently, I posted a brief DIY article on creating a diffuser for a camera’s external flash. Well, I figured I’d take a second to show the project in action. Check out the pictures below and notice the difference. All images where shot by the same camera on the same aperture, shutter speed, ISO and general exposure settings.

I used a white glasses cleaning cloth as my material. Please excuse the blur in the last shot.

No flash used

no camera flash

Full flash, no diffuser

full camera flash

Flash with diffuser

camera flash with diffuser

Double diffused flash (two layers of cloth)

extra diffused flash

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