Getting a studio… cont’d…

So, where were we? Oh yes, lighting sources are sorted (two of my old flashes). Now comes the next part;

Backgrounds

A horseMost people consider a photo studio to be a place where there is at least one background. I search around on the web for info about which background to get, and thought about which size, and decided to go for the basic one, which is white. But, instead of going to the cheapest possible options which would be to just get a white sheet and nail it to the wall I decided to get a stand, and a big roll of white paper. The roll is nearly 3 meters wide, and 11 meter longs, which means you can turn almost the entire wall and floor white. This is what I was looking for, since I want to be able to take other photos than just people sitting in front of a plain background. With such a big background you can put many people in the photo, and they don’t have to be standing up either.

I first thought about getting a grey background, but everyone said; nope, get a white one, you can use the strength and position of the lights to turn that background white, grey or even black, so stick with the white one for starters… A big background like the one I got costs about 90 euro, and is made of paper, so it needs to be replaced if you’re going to walk on it with muddy shoes…

Next thing you need is;

Flash stands and peripherals

Since you probably don’t have 2 or 3 people that like to hang around and just hold the flashes in the same position it’s probably a good idea to get some flash stands. The purpose of the stand is two-fold. You put the flash on top of it, and then connect the light modifiers either to the stand or the flash itself (in my case the stand). But wait, what is a light modifier?

Well, imagine that you have a flash-light. It makes a straight forward beam. If you put a very thin rice-piece of paper in front of the flash light the light will be a bit weaker, but also very much wider and softer. Imagine if you instead of the paper put a thick sheet of wood with just a little hole in it. It would make a tiny focused spot of light. If you drilled 4-5 holes, it would make a spotty pattern. These are some simple examples of what light modifiers do. All of them takes away a little or a lot of the strength of the light which came out from the flash, but it also changes the light in a way that you hopefully wished for.

The most common modifiers to attach to your flash is;

  • Umbrella. This is just what it sounds like. An umbrella. Can be either white transparent or solid reflecting colour (silver or gold usually). The umbrella takes the light and makes it very big and spread out. It takes the small light source (your flash) and pours it out over a bigger area. You can either bounce the light from the flash into the umbrella and back towards the object you’re photographing, our you can shoot though the umbrella for a bit more control of where the light goes.
  • Soft box. Also what it sounds like :-) A square box, comes in different sizes, usually quite big. This gives you a bit more control than an umbrella over where you get your light. Makes a very smooth soft pleasing light.
  • Snoot. This makes the light from your flash very narrow and focused as a single spot. Perfect for adding just a touch of light on the top of someone’s head if you want to light up their hair just a bit.
  • Barn door. This has adjustable flaps in front of the flash. You can choose to block the light from going a certain direction, for instance if you want to light a part of a persons face and want a very sharp line of where the light ends…

There are tons of more light modifiers, and I am still reading about, and learning what they are and how they work… The ones I’m getting first are umbrellas. They are the most versatile peripheral for a studio shoot, since you can use them both in a bit of a focused way, as well as very wide spread. They’re also quite cheap, which matters :-)

Check out this site again for more info on how I’m setting up my studio (my last order is probably showing up at our house in the middle of next week!) :)