Home Studios, They’re Easier Than You Think…and cheaper too!

What comes to mind when you think about professional studios? Indoor photo shoots? I’m guessing you are imagining some flashy car or a gorgeous model, set in front of a flawless white background, multiple bright spotlights shining directly onto the perfectness of the subject matter. Sounds pretty high fashion (a.k.a. high dollar) and intense huh? The reality is that it doesn’t have to be so intense and it doesn’t have to be so costly. These days, studio gear has come down in price and advances in technology have made this gear far more user friendly. Thus, more of our fellow photographers are able to set up shop in their own homes at a fraction of the cost. We’re talking only about $1,000.00 to get you up and running. Just don’t meet clients still in your pajamas…I know it’s a home studio, but that may detract from the professional image…just sayin’.

Below are the 5 must-haves for a successful home studio:

Home Studio Must-Have #1: Background – We can’t all have a world class cyclorama as a part of our studios, at least not yet.  A fantastic alternative is to use seamless background paper. It’s inexpensive and the two most popular sizes (53 inches and 107 inches) can be purchased for anywhere between $20-$40. The stands that support these paper rolls only go for about $60 themselves so for a mere $100, you have your versatile studio background.

Home Studio Must-Have #2: Strobes – Ok so first things first, we aren’t talking about disco status strobe lights. Strobes are just pro speak for studio flash, aka lighting. They are basically the same thing as your off camera flash however they are far more powerful and put out more light which is necessary for killer studio shots. And p.s. they can be acquired for as little as $300. Say what!?

Home Studio Must-Have #3: Softbox – In last week’s post we talked about window lighting and how this diffused light creates some of the best elements for photography. Same thing applies to studio shots. However, studios are usually very dark with the exception of the strobes so how do we create that same diffused lighting? You guessed it, a softbox. For only about $200, they fit right over your strobes and are the pro choice for making the harsh light of your strobe, bigger and softer.

Flickr j_kacey
Flickr j_kacey

Home Studio Must-Have #3a: Speed Ring – Some softboxes will come with a speed ring built right in. However many do not, so if this is the case for you, make sure you put it on your shopping list. Be super on top of your game though and make sure to purchase one that is made to fit your brand of strobe. Speed rings are small metal circles, with four holes on the sides designed to hold the four thin poles that give your softbox its shape. Depending on the quality, they can cost anywhere from$50 to $120.

Home Studio Must-Have #4: Light Meter – These little babies are so helpful when you are working with multiple lights and possibly multiple reflectors and need to choose the perfect exposure. They are super easy to use and will save you hours of stressful Photoshop adjustments. Besides, your time is far more valuable than the $250 it costs to purchase these tools of exposure perfection.

Home Studio Must-Have #5: Silver Reflector – Are you thinking you need to spend another $300, for a second strobe in order to handle those pesky shadows? Not necessarily.  Be nice to yourself (and your wallet) and just pick up a $40 silver reflector. It will throw a ton of gentle light back toward your subject matter and quickly illuminate any undesired shadows.

Flickr afshinheidary
Flickr afshinheidary

Ok, drum roll please as we do our Financial Re-Cap:

  • Background – $100.00
  • Strobe – $300.00
  • Softbox – $200.00
  • Speed ring – $120.00
  • Light Meter – $250.00
  • Silver Reflector – $40.00

 

Home Studio Grand Total:  $1010.00

How to Take Amazing Night Photos: 4 Night Photography Tips

Night Photography

Just activate your pop up flash? Only if you want to have a subpar image that looks like you have no clue what you’re doing.

What you really need is a slow shutter speed or high ISO, a fast lens wide open, and a tripod.

Here are a few night photo situations. The night photography tips shared here can be applied to other dark times too…

Night Photo Situation #1: Outdoor Nighttime Event

This type of event would be a wedding reception, party, family event, class reunion, or whatever else you do outside at night. Continue reading “How to Take Amazing Night Photos: 4 Night Photography Tips”

Low Light Digital Photography for Control Freaks

Beginner Photo Tip: Shooting in Tricky Low-Light Situations

Sometimes we do not get perfect lighting situations. Okay, so lots of the time we don’t get perfect lighting situations. That’s where an off-camera flash is my best friend. Seriously, I’m in love with my whole off-camera flash set-up because I love CONTROL. Unfortunately, we don’t always get the luxury of control. When we don’t get to control the light it can create a tricky situation.

Here are some examples of tricky low-light situations I’ve been in and how I still got the image I wanted.

Indoor Action

The other night I took pictures at a volleyball game. I had absolutely no control of the light. The available light was the fluorescent overhead lighting common in a gym. My flash would not help because it couldn’t reach the players and I doubt they would have appreciated flashes of light blinding them as they played. This was a tricky low-light situation.

Yet I still captured great action. Here’s how: Continue reading “Low Light Digital Photography for Control Freaks”

Metering: Which Setting Should I Use and When?

In-Camera Metering - how and when

In-Camera Metering - how and when

We all know the rule of thumb to shoot an outdoor portrait in the shade —  to avoid harsh lighting and shadows. But a common problem occurs if you have any sunny areas in your frame: a properly exposed sunny background but an overexposed subject. I’m sure you’ve all seen it before: a subject under a shady tree that looks dark while the sky behind the subject is the right shade of blue (if only you were going for a portrait of the sky, but unfortunately, you weren’t). This problem is easily remedied with an understanding of your in-camera light meter. Continue reading “Metering: Which Setting Should I Use and When?”

ISO: Collecting Light

ISO Collecting Light
To put it simply, the ISO you set on your camera affects the sensor’s sensitivity to light. ISO really relates to film, and on our digital cameras we technically have ISO equivalents. If you want all the big words and math related to it, read about film speed on Wikipedia.

ISO is an often ignored factor in achieving proper exposure. I find the following analogy helpful in understanding ISO: Continue reading “ISO: Collecting Light”