Photography Tutorial - Equipment
Equipment Do You Need to Get Good Shots
You can spend a fortune
on a studio setup with strobes and light meters and all. Unless you plan to start
selling photos for a living, however, that would be totally unnecessary. You can
put together everything you need to shoot very nice studio-styled photos without
spending a lot.
Here is the equipment you'll need.
- This is the single most expensive part of your studio setup. You can't get by
with a point-and-shoot camera for this type of photography. You need a camera
that allows you to shoot in aperture-priority (AV) mode. Don't worry if you don't
know what that means - I'll explain it later. You can find film cameras that give
you this capability for $300. You will save a lot of time and money, ultimately,
if you get a digital camera instead. You can get a Canon Rebel 300D for $500 -
$600 on ebay. You may also be able to find a Canon D60 or Canon D30 for a few
hundred dollars on ebay. It costs more up front but you'll recoup your investment
in no time with what you save in film processing and printing costs. You're going
to do a lot experimenting with lights and camera angles when you start doing studio
shots; put the money into a camera now and save money and frustration in the long
run. If you absolutely can't afford a camera like this, get yourself a good quality
(Canon or Nikon, preferably) digital camera that has a tripod mount and comes
with (or lets you purchase separately) a remote shutter release. Those are absolutely
- Tripod - You don't need anything fancy here.
You just need a basic tripod to stand the camera on while you shoot. You can find
these cheap at garage sales, flea markets, pawn shops, or thrift stores. You must
have a tripod for this type of photography. You will be shooting very long exposures
- maybe as long as a second or more. If you don't have a tripod, you will get
nothing but blurry shots.
- Remote shutter release - this is
a wired trigger for the camera. You use this to take pictures without having to
touch the camera. Just the act of pushing that button causes a tremor on the camera,
which can show up in a long exposure photo. The remote shutter release will allow
you take pictures without shaking the camera. You'll find this at a camera store
or online at ebay or at a camera e-tailer. Make sure you get the right shutter
release for your specific camera.
- Two light stands - these
are mini tripods to hold the floodlights. You'll find these at camera supply stores.
reflectors (shells) - These are big shell-shaped bowls. The lightbulb fits inside
the reflector. The reflector directs all the light from the bulb forward. It also
increases the size of your lightsource so the shadows it creates are softer and
less distinct. Camera supply store.
- Two sockets to connect bulb
to lightstands - This screws into the back side of the reflector - the bulb
screws into the socket inside the reflector. This socket also has a balljoint
and screw-socket to connect it (and the reflector) to the light stand. (If you
buy some type of light kit this may be included in some other form - you just
need something for the bulbs to screw into and to attach the reflector to the
stand.) Camera supply store.
- Four lightbulbs - (125 - 250 watt,
daylight or tungsten balance) You have seen photographers shoot with studio lights
that flash (called strobes). These are expensive and challenging to use, but people
are more comfortable posing under the strobes than under hot, constant floodlights.
Fortunately, your SPs won't care about the heat. You can use the simple, inexpensive
floodlights for your studio setup. Different types of lightbulbs have different
"colors" to them. Your eyes don't see this but your camera will. You
can choose daylight balanced bulbs or tungsten balanced bulbs. The key is to not
mix them - stick with one or the other. Get these at a camera supply store. Buy
four of them so you have backups when bulbs burn out.
- two diffusers
- a diffuser is just a plastic shield that fits over the open end of your
reflector. You've seen photographers setting up these big nylon "boxes"
that have the lights inside, or umbrellas. These are also diffusers, and any will
work. (I like the plastic shield type more than the umbrellas, but that's just
me being cheap and personal preference.) The light shines through (or in the case
of umbrellas, bounces off) the diffuser, which effectively increases the size
of the light source and softens the shadows on your subject.
or Solid color bedsheet - You're shooting pictures of a fairly small subject,
so you can get by with bedsheets rather than buying formal backdrops. Some people
create their own backgrounds to look like stadium settings. (Understand that you
may have to illuminate a background of this type with one or two additional lights
to make it look realistic.) The backdrop needs to be large enough so that it covers
the entire background, even when you separate the subject and background by several
feet. The tendency is to put the subject right up against the background, but
you don't want to do this for two reasons. First, you will get shadows on your
background. Second, you want the background to be out of focus.
stand - or wires and eyehooks to hang backdrop from ceiling - Again, you can
get creative and figure out a way to suspend the backdrop behind your subjects.
You don't have to buy an actual backdrop stand.
I've seen several
kits on ebay that would give you everything you need for the lighting equipment.
If you look on Ebay under Cameras & Photo> Lighting & Studio Equipment>
Continuous Lighting, you might find something like the following, with a buy it
now price of $265:
THIS IS A 3 LIGHT 1250 WATT SMITH VICTOR MINI BOOM KIT
WITH AN EXTRA SET OF TWO 500 WATT AND ONE 250 WATT BULBS. THIS IS AN EXTRA BULB
FOR ALL THREE LIGHTS. THESE POWERFUL TUNGSTEN PHOTOFLOOD BULBS WILL GIVE YOU THE
LIGHT YOU NEED. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO START YOUR STUDIO IS HERE AND COMPLETE.
THIS KIT INCLUDES:
2 12 inch REFLECTORS
1 5 inch REFLECTOR
3 SOCKET & CORDSETS WITH STAND MOUNTS
2 33 inch WHITE UMBRELLAS
UM4 UMBRELLA MOUNTS
3 RAVEN RS8 8 FOOT ALUMINUM STANDS
1 MB110 MINI BOOM
4 ECT 500 WATT PHOTOFLOOD LAMPS
2 ECA 250 WATT PHOTOFLOOD LAMP
CART ON WHEELS
1 IMAGING WITH LIGHT GUIDE
No, I'm not selling these
kits LOL. This is just a good example of a basic, inexpensive lighting system
that will work for your purposes.
You can assemble a cobbled system for
less than this - that's what I did - but a kit like this is pretty convenient.
you can use this lighting setup for more than just your SPs. If you sell stuff
on Ebay, it will be very handy to have this equipment on hand. You can even try
your hand at some family portraits with this type of setup. Using this setup,
for example, I shot the below portrait of my son:
you go through this tutorial, think about the improvements you'll see in your
photos and how they'll sell your SPs more effectively. Good photos make you money.
And if you follow the steps in this tutorial, you'll be able to take them yourself
very inexpensively. Just remember, it doesn't have to look like a fancy studio
- here's the setup I use all the time:
speed, aperture, depth of field
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