Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Home Studios

Hello again! Firstly, let me apologise for my poor output of late, my only excuse is that I've been rather busy, but I will endeavour to change this! My lack of spare time has also led to a lack of photos being taken and the lack of income that is associated with that, but I'm now finding time to shoot again, which can only be good news.

For a while now, I've been trying to develop a 'home studio' of sorts and I'll admit that I had no success for too long. My first attempt, some months ago, was to simply buy one, which seemed like a good idea at the time. However, I quickly learned that this was not going to work out, perhaps because I had bought a relatively cheap one... The set in question included a fold out white sheet between two diffusers and two lamps to illuminate the scene. It seemed ideal, yet it actually turned out that the lamps included were not of the highest quality and were not, in fact, bright enough to have any noticeable effect when shone through the diffuser walls. On top of this, the white sheet was quite heavily creased, which was a small nightmare to edit out.

Effectively, don't bother. There's a much easier way.

First things first, I expect you have a tripod. If not, get one, you'll really thank me. My easy home studio (which probably took an unjustifiably long time to develop) is a humble piece of A4 paper; if you can get larger, I'd use that, but A4 should suffice in the most part. The set up is fairly simple, you'll need a fairly hefty amount of natural light, preferably diffused by clouds or otherwise, and then all you need to do is place your subject about a third of the way into the piece of paper, then prop the far side up against something (I used a box of grapes, possibly an odd choice) and you're away!

In terms of shooting, you'll want to use your tripod and fill the frame with your subject - you may need to adjust your setup to ensure your background is all white. You'll also need to use as wide an aperture as possible to ensure that the entirety of your subject is in focus - my first attempts had quite selective focus, which was not the effect I was going for. About f/16 or over, depending on the length of your lens. If you're shooting in aperture priority mode, you may want to increase the exposure compensation to make sure your whites are bright; if you're shooting manually, just open the shutter for a bit longer.

You'll also need to spend a bit of time on editing. I use Photoshop Elements because it's all I can afford, but it certainly does the job. Firstly, you'll need to whack the brightness right up so that your whites are really bright - don't worry if your subject becomes over-exposed, we can fix that right away. Next you'll need to head into "Shadows/Highlights" and Darken Highlights until you're satisfied. The rest is up to you really, do as much or as little as you want to it.

So, there it is, perhaps not the most exciting breakthrough a photographer's ever made, but certainly one I was happy with. Let me know how you get on, will be interested if anyone else can have success with it.

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