Friday, December 30, 2011

How To Make A Minature Studio For Free

Studio equipment is expensive. Should you need a studio, you might spend more on that than your camera and lens combined. But it doesn't have to be expensive.

If you click here, you'll find a website that offers some good tips and tricks for putting together your own studio for less. And here you'll find a miniature studio for about $10.

Miniature studios are good for photographing small items. Last night I made a miniature studio for free, using common materials found around the house.

First, I found a clear tupperware container. I thought this would be a sturdy base and perhaps the tupperware might bounce some light around. I placed the tupperware on it's side, with the opening facing me.

I cut a sheet of white printer/copier paper to the width of the tupperware. I slid it in, letting the paper naturally curve up at the back of the tupperware (do not crease it!). If I had been thinking, I would have stood up the scrap paper on the sides of the tupperware to help bounce the light around (which might have reduced the shadows).

Next I found two lamps around the house. I removed the shades and checked to make sure the bulbs were the same. If you have different bulbs, it might cause some funky lighting. If I had been thinking, I would have placed a round tupperware container over each bulb to diffuse the light some. Or maybe a white sheet. Or maybe some parchment paper. (Be careful, though--you don't want to start a fire!) Next time I'll play around with different ways to diffuse the light.

The lamps were placed on the right and left of, to the front of, and little higher than the minature studio. I placed one lamp (the one on the left) slightly closer so that the shadows would fall more in a certain direction. If I had diffused the light a little and bounced it around more, the shadows would be less obvious. I'm sure a little trial-and-error would fix this.

I placed the object to be photographed (in this case, a Christmas ornament) on the paper. The camera was set on a tripod. Depending on exactly how bright the lights are, you might not need a tripod. I probably didn't need one, but I used a tripod anyway.

The key here is white balance. You'll have to manually set this and take care to make sure it is correct. I found the tungsten setting worked for the particular light I had. Use an ISO of 200 or less.

The entire object doesn't need to be in focus, but the important part of it does need to be in sharp focus. Make sure you have an appropriate depth-of-field. In my case, I wanted the very top and very bottom to be a bit fuzzy to force the viewer's attention to the middle.

Baby's First Christmas - Tehachapi, California
In the future I'll play around with color paper and placement of light. I imagine that there are a lot of possibilities for a set up like this.

Best of all, though, is that it was free. 

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