All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘ideas’
Ernie Chang is one of my fans from Taipei, Taiwan. I stumbled upon his work after he sent me a message on my Facebook Fan Page. One of the pieces in particular that he had shot intrigued me and when I inquired about how it was done, I was blown away by its sheer simplicity.
Before reading away, I challenge you to take a guess on how it was done!
Long before I started photography, I was always a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy art. I remember hanging on DeviantArt all day, and never missing an issue of ImagineFX. I was especially fascinated with themes that dealt with paintings or virtual creations coming to life, so naturally came the desire to portray them. Never did it occur to me that I could use photography to tackle this theme because I assumed it would either lead to terrible cosplay, or cheesy photo-manipulation. I tried to learn painting and illustration but I just had no talent for it, eventually I moved on. I went on to study Industrial Design in University, and had photography as a hobby.
When I decided to take photography more seriously about two years ago, I started shooting tons of portraits, products, and fashion, and learned to appreciate the great masters such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and Steven Meisel. It taught me a lot about lighting and fashion photography, but never quite suppressed the desire to create. So I started conceptualizing ideas what would integrate some of my inspirations to create something fresh.
I wanted to portray a virtual 3D body coming to real life under exposure to light. The first image I pictured in my head was a half-virtual, half-real person done in the same shot. It’s an analogy to a child being born. The light represents exposure to the outside world, resulting in the loss of purity and innocence. I planned it so that the viewer only sees the grid of a body in the first shot, which later reveals itself to be an imperfect nude figure.
The flash lighting was simple: one cheap flashgun coming from the right, and behind the subject. Where the light doesn’t reach, I am left with areas of black which I fill with dotted ambient light. The dots are just round label stickers
available at any stationery store which I spray-painted with a coat of glow-in-the-dark blue paint that you can purchase here
. The glowing stickers, aligned rigidly, create a grid-like effect when the lights are turned off, which was what I needed.
and the setup…
Finding a Model
The shoot required a fully nude, skinny, long-haired model. Since I was on a tight budget, I tried to find someone that would be interested in my project to shoot without any compensation. So on my Facebook fan page I half-jokingly posted: “Looking for someone to sacrifice their body for the sake of art,” and didn’t think much of it. But eventually my classmate picked it up and passed it on to her friend who contacted me to talk about it. It turns out that she was a fine arts student photographing a series of her own nude body as a graduation project. When I told her about my idea, she was quite happy to help out. Moral of the story: ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE!
Setting the Camera
Flash/strobe lighting is significantly brighter than the glowing stickers so to compensate for that, I exposed for the lowest flash intensity and dragged the shutter for an eight-second exposure to capture the glowing light. During this time, the model had to be completely still to avoid any motion blur. When I fired a first test shot, I forgot to change the white balance (left at 3000K), and it produced the exact blue tone I was looking for, no gels or post-production required! The whole set is shot using the Fujifilm X-E1
with XF 35mm f1.4
lens. With an ISO set to 400, and an aperture at F5.6, with a shutter speed of 8 seconds, I shot away:
I am quite pleased with how the results came out am now currently looking for more models to take this concept further. If you’re interested in getting involved, do send me a message on my fan page! I’m also quite curious to see what Von Wong’s going to do with my technique, as he’s promised to do something with it!
I think it doesn’t take that much to carry out an idea. Just keep it simple and use your resources effectively. The lack of gear or funding does not suffice as an excuse to be unproductive. With a little knowledge and some planning, it is not so hard create something unique. Just experiment and have fun with it!
Model and I
For those of you who are curious, here are a couple other projects that I’ve been playing with. I’m slowly starting to develop my own methods in finding new ways use them in commercial photography.
Smoking Speakers concept design. For this shot, I used light painting to accentuate the pitch-black product, while having strobes to light the product nicely.
Atrox concept car design. Light painting by Ernie Chang, lensed by Joe Russo.
More of my work can be found at www.lightmare.net and www.facebook.com/lightmare.ec
Earlier this year I was asked by dance company Art-Terre if I would be interested in shooting some promo material for one of their upcoming shows: Temnein. Coincidentally, Chance from FullyM.com was in town and wanted to feature me at work. Since I’ve had numerous requests to give a little more insight on how I shoot my dance-related photography, I blended the two events together to bring to you guys this educational video.
Hope you enjoy the results:
Developing the concept
Katherine first contacted me while she was touring in Haiti. She was coming back in a couple weeks and knew that she needed to come up with some promo shots for her upcoming show that was going to happen on the 12th of April. As I had never seen the show, I asked her to send me whatever material she had available – photographs, drafts, sketches, video clips… anything that would help give me an idea of what she was looking for.
I met up with her art director and choreographer Saxon Fraser to determine what the exact look and feel of the images was meant to be and we settled on creating large elaborate storytelling pieces that would accentuate the interactions between the dancers.
We targeted key moments in the piece that would be iconic and representative of the entire piece and made sure to create images that would fit both a horizontal facebook cover-photo layout as well as a vertical poster-layout.
Since this was to be a dance show, we had to make sure that the lighting in the images would stay faithful to the show so we decided to use the Gesu Theatre with a similar lighting configuration that was going to be used during the show itself.
Lighting the set:
Although the easiest solution would have been to simply use the stage lighting and nothing more to light these shots up, I didn’t want them to look just like event shots. I wanted them to have that 3-dimensional studio-flare that you get from having your subjects perfectly lit.
To achieve that, I brought in my Paul C Buff lighting kit in to play with the dancers and used them to highlight the subjects while I let the stage lights take care of the background atmosphere.
The first step to setting up the “ambient” background light was to familiarize myself with the lighting configurations that were available. For those of you who have never played with stage lights, they can be easily configured and organized by the lighting tech on set. Communication with the lighting tech on the spot is critical to have full control of the effects, colours and textures of light that are available to you. In my case, I had him flick the effects on and off one by one as I looked to the stage trying to imagine the variety of poses that we would be creating. Once the lights are configured, it’s relatively annoying to have to bring the entire grid of lights down, reconfigure and send them back up again so pre-visualization is quite important.
From there on, the studio strobes were brought in to help accentuate the poses of the models. The advantage of studio strobes over the stage lighting is it’s ability to focus in and highlight certain key elements as they’re far easy to move around than their stage lighting equivalents. For example, stage lights are most often located on either the ceiling level or the floor level whereas proper side lighting is a lot more uncommon. And even when it does exist, it is hardly ever a setup that can be properly gridded.
Of course, blending studio strobes to ambient light meant that I had to do a little bit of mental juggling between getting the lowest possible ISO (800), an acceptable depth of field (~f4.5) with a relatively safe shutter speed (~1/30th) and add onto the flash into the mix at the proper settings.
Though it sounds complicated when thrown out there mathematically like this, if you’ve ever tried to blend ambient and strobe light outdoors, there’s not much different – except in this case you’re certain the ambient won’t change on you!
Lighting Diagram designed by Chance from Fullym.com
Transforming concept into reality:
Like most images that you so often see so clearly in your mind, when it comes to actually making it happen in reality there’s always a slight jerk back to reality.
When trying to design complex poses such as the ones that we had going, thing were even harder to calibrate. Not only did we need to come up with intricate poses, it also involved having dancers tied up and climbing over one another!
This is where a nice balance is needed between what you need (rule of thirds, lighting, golden spiral, triangles, emotion, lines and shadows), what’s physically possible (no, she can’t balance on her left leg while wrapping her right around her neck), and what makes sense to the piece.
This is where communication comes in extremely handy and it becomes particularly valuable to share your insights and opinions with the other members of the team (client, art director, dancers) to get the best results. Dancers especially are extremely conscious of their body positioning and can help you come up with the proper pose if you explain the rules of composition that are needed. Sharing your work with the art director as you move along also helps to ensure that your vision of the piece isn’t getting too far away from what the final result they were looking for was going to be.
As I mentioned in the video, don’t forget that the subjects you’re posing on stage are actually human beings so remember to not tire them needlessly. Giving them the cue to relax is very appreciated and will make a difference in your final image. And though I am extremely guilty of saying “One more… ok just one more… annnnd one last one… andddd a final one… annnnd… “ I never leave my models hanging in precarious and uncomfortable positions while I chimp away at the screen.
There are no rules when it comes to creating great images… but keeping the basic things in mind such as communication, story and composition make a world of difference. Technicalities such as “which fstop did you use, with which lens, with what lighting” is nothing without the vision behind.
If you guys ever want to experiment with dance photography (or anything involving a human subject really!), I invite you to work on simply talking with your models and getting them to be a participant in your shoots rather than just exploiting them as simple subjects.
Check out FullyM’s own POV story here: http://fullym.com/video-fullym-meets-benjamin-von-wong-how-to-shoot-intricate-multiple-models-bts/
- Client: Art-Terre
- Poster Design: Emiliano Jabiu
- Assistants : Sarah Ismert, Renaud Lafrenière, Jessika Chiasson, Emiliano Jabiu
- Video: Chance Nguyen from FullyM.com
- ThinkTank Airport International V2.0 (best bag ever) B&H
- Paul C Buff
- This blog post was written on an 11 hour train ride between Paris and Traunstein… involving me sitting on a cold metal floor between two train cars with the laptop plugged into a toilet’s power socket.
- I’m currently in Traunstein, Germany participating in a 350+ participant mass shoot. Want to participate?
- Interested in writing a guest post for this blog? Send me an email or leave a comment!
- I’ll be speaking in Vancouver at Canadian Imaging on April 17th.
- 2 day workshop in a ghost town in Kelowna, BC! Only 1 spot remaining!
- 2 day workshop in Detroit Michigan, with Photo Studio Group
In November of last year on my last Europe tour, master pyrotechnician Andrey DAS and I got together in collaboration with award winning designer Virginie Marcerou to experiment and create some exciting and technically challenge images by combining a variety of pyrotechnics – from smoke, to sparklers, to firebreathing. Since I had just gotten back from speaking for Lovinpix at the Salon de la Photo and had met a bunch of people throughout the event, we decided to make it an open event and let people come watch us at work. The result was approximately 60 people showing up throughout the night, including a surprise visit from Udi from DIYPhotography!
Where it all began:
The concept began when DAS and I went out and about to look for the most epic and outrageous way to combine fashion and pyro. DAS came up with the idea of creating an angel in a ring of fire, and I connected him to Virginie. The result of a little brainstorming was this absolutely nutty concept.
As with most concepetual pyrotechnical ideas, the first step was to figure out what was realistically achievable and what was wishful thinking. We finally settled on seperating the image into a couple distinct parts. The bottom of the image would be created using the fire curtain, the ring would be created through a long exposure, and rather than build a seperate contraption to spread sparks around 8 feet in the air we settled for a column of flame from a fire breather. The entire scene would be lit from above using speedlights and an umbrella which I knew I would have with me. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the epic arch-angel wings we were hoping for so we had to settle for the baby angel wings. From there, the entire final image was going to be combined in camera using multiple exposures.
On shoot day, things turned out to be just as fun with a huge number of people that showed up to watch, help and contribute. Thanks to them, we were able to tie indivudal strands of the dress to pieces of string and have them wave it around as two people behind them spun fire, sparks and spat fire while in the foreground… assistants from DAS played with long ropes of flame.
The result? The beginning of an extremely exciting evening.
Since our first meeting in France, DAS and I have been trying to push the boundaries of what people had seen before. Mickael de Sinno, who was one of our models in a previous photoshoot 6 months back had decided to come back and play with us. He had been looking for imagery that would be capable of showing off his ridiculously cut body so we took him up on the offer and proceeded to stick him on a brick and spit fire on him…. and between his legs. DAS and his assistant Jerem Coté had a brilliant time spitting fire all over our brave model and the meticulously designed cape by Virginie Marcerou. Though it took a bunch of tries before we actually got things right… the final results were nothing short of amazing (IMHO!) Though the idea of simply having a fireball behind a subject is relatively simple, turns out that getting it perfect centered… x2 is actually quite hard!
Since we were messing around with consumable effects, each time we started a burn I had to be ready to constantly change up my camera settings to be able to compensate for the lighting conditions. Varying the shutter speed apeture and ISO combination would make the same effect look drastically different each time… add on the elements (wind) and the pyrotechnician himself (swinging faster, slower etc…) it was quite a feat to be able to find the perfect result and reproduceand retweak it. If you’ve never shot fire before… be sure to check out my 7 tips that will help you paint with fire before attempting anything on your own!
Checkout the outakes – longer/shorter shutter speeds and a variety of aperture values, as well as a combination of effect/lighting placement! Small changes making a huge difference!
Though it may look like nothing, getting that flash boomed from above and behind the model was an extremely challenging experience. It doesn’t show but directly behind the models was a pool of water. We had to sink a couple bricks behind the subjects and have one awesome assistant (Benjamin Lecomte FTW! precariously balanced behind two shivering models and two huge pools of water.) I took the shot from the complete opposite end of the pool with my Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm which happend to be just out of range of the Pixel Pawn triggers that I had causing massive misfires adding to our complications.
Despite the burning nature of the photoshoot, we were shooting continuously with models which meant that we had to be 100% certain that our models stayed as warm as they possibly could during the trial and error tweaking process of the photographs and this meant having blankets (or a cape) to keep our models warm. I think that this is something that many upcoming photographers forget when they work with models – they spend a lot of time tweaking settings while the models are stuck in an uncomfortable pose. (If you haven’t seen it, go check out some random tips and tricks that you should keep in mind as aphotographer… from a model’s perspective. Check out this article Dear Photographer. Kindest regards, Model).
What I recommend, especially when using such a variable element as fire is to get your effect right before even starting to ask your model to pose.
warmer models = more awesome poses in the long run.
And finally, the one thing to keep in mind and always remember is that fire is a dangerous element. It can have unpredictable effects so be sure to surround yourself with professionals that know how to deal with fire. Things can change in a heartbeat and can often become quite dangerous if you don’t control. As you can see in this effect, different tools can produce vastly different results so you need to be careful… literally… when playing with fire.
Hope you enjoyed this weeks video and blog post
- Sirui Tripod T2205X sponsored by LOVINPIX
- Nikon D800E: B&H | Amazon
- Nikkor 14-24 f2.8: B&H
- Nikkor 24-70 f2.8: B&H
- Nikkor 70-200 f2.8: B&H
- ThinkTank Airport International V2.0 (best bag ever) B&H
- Interested in writing a guest post for this blog? Send me an email or leave a comment!
- Come participate in my latest greatest project in Traunstein Germany!
- I’ll be speaking in Vancouver at Canadian Imaging on April 17th.
- 2 day workshop in a ghost town in Kelowna, BC! Only 2 spots remaining!
- 2 day workshop in Detroit Michigan, with Photo Studio Group
Shooting creative portraits underwater can be quite a challenging task. I’ve summed up a couple tips and tricks that can help you get ready for your first couple experimentations in creative underwater portrait photography.
For those of you that want to try out underwater photography, chances are you’re not looking to spend thousands of dollars on an underwater housing. Luckily, there are alternatives out there that act as glorified plastic bags that are quite secure such as the DicaPac *** which can house a full frame DSLR and lens for only $75. Starter housings like the Ikelite housings cost over $1500 body only and that’s just the beginning!
*** When purchasing any type of glorified plastic bag, I highly recommend you test it regularly by sealing it and putting in a sink/bathtub/toilet full of water to check for leaks. Manufacturers will not reimburse your camera if it leaks!
Myself holding a DicaPac somewhere in Malaysia
1. Water will affect your shot and your lighting!
Water affects your lighting. As you probably know, the deeper you go, the less light reaches your subject. On top of that, water acts as a massive filter that eats up the entire spectrum of reds… which means that your shots will get more and more blue as you go deeper. Depending on lighting conditions, you might want to stay as close to the surface of the water as possible to get the best skin tones and to keep your shutter speed from getting too slow! Additionally, the farther you are from your subject, the blurrier they will tend to become!
Keep all of this in mind when planning your shots!
2. Radio triggers don’t work underwater!
If you were planning on triggering surface strobes using radio triggers, think again. Radio waves unfortunately don’t travel through water which means that you’re limited to optical triggering using underwater strobes, or hoping that your flash+plastic bag combination is powerful enough to trigger strobes on the surface.
If you plan on triggering using the on camera flash, cover any part of the housing/bag directly in front of the internal flash with duct tape/gaffer tape to prevent backscatter from the internal flash that could ruin your image!
Alternatively, if you happen to be a little bit on the handy-side of things, look into this fabulous DIY solution
Alternatively, contact the folks over at The Underwater Realm and ask them for their lighting plans for their underwater LED lights! They might still have them for sale: http://theunderwaterrealm.com/contact/
3. Plan for time! Things take 3 times longer to happen… at least.
Normally takes you 30 minutes to nail a shot? Don’t count on it when playing underwater. Things take exponentially longer to happen when it’s happening underwater. Everything is more complicated: framing, focusing, breathing, directing, changing settings, moving lighting… and even worst, as the day gets on, you get tired and things get only harder!
4. Think oxygen & comfort!
It may sound stupid but things you take for granted such as breathing and staying warm don’t work the same way underwater as they do over water.
Best case scenario, get an entire scuba kit.
Worst case scenario, grab some fins to increase your mobility.
Also, staying in water for long periods of time gets uncomfortable quite quick so be sure to grab a full body wet suit. These small things that help keep you comfortable will help ensure that your mind stays more focused on creating the image you want to create.
Finally, be sure to bring snorkeling goggles over standard swimming goggles. Keeping water out of your nose will make your life so much more comfortable in the long run.
5. Beware the drowning face
Unfortunately, most people tend to look quite ugly as they strike glorious graceful poses underwater. Many a time, shots are ruined because of a missed expression. Before taking photos of your models, run them through the poses underwater making sure that they’re comfortable. Getting them to perform the same routine over and over again while your attention is 100% focused on their expression and not grabbing the shot will help both parties understand what needs to be done to pull off the perfect expression.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to deal with the drowning face, some amazing portraits can be created by simply cutting off/obscuring the heads of your models. Brooke Shaden does this quite often in her amazing underwater works (beware a lot of her stuff is NSFW).
6. Light floaty clothes and props are magical underwater
Light transparent cloth looks amazing underwater and adds a glorious sense of ethereal beauty to your images and is great for helping you tell a story without drowning your models. Keep in mind that it will hinder your models movements which brings me to the last and final point…
Bringing props underwater will also make things even more surreal. Simple objects take on a whole new meaning underwater. Some ideas: guitar, chair, flowers…
Photo Credit: Renee Robyn Photography / Model: Madison Mah
7. Run through breathing and visualization techniques to help improve your shots
Speaking of drowning expressions, one thing that will greatly help you stay underwater longer and get a better expression is to perform a combination of visualization techniques and breathing exercises.
Surprisingly, it is not the lack of oxygen that triggers the urge for air after you hold your breath for very long but the body’s buildup of carbon dioxide. That can be controlled with a little practice.
8. Bring swim noodles and lead weights!
Swim noodlesare the perfect flotation device that are great to have so that your models don’t need to swim to the edge of the pool/lake/sea after every take. They’re long, bright, hard to loose and ridiculously useful.
Lead weightson the flip side can be useful for sinking your models rapidly if you happen to be in a deep environment so that they don’t waste time and energy to get to the bottom of the pool.
9. Prepare a safety person
I can’t stress how important this final point is. Having somebody standing by to get your model out of trouble if she tangles herself while you’re fiddling with the camera is absolutely critical. Water is dangerous and you always want to be sure that people are on hand just in case anything goes wrong.
And finally, some inspiration from some great creative underwater photographers:
- Zena Holloway: http://www.zenaholloway.com/
- Elena Kalis: http://www.elenakalisphoto.com/
- Alix Malka: http://underwaterfashion.org/archives/355
Did I miss anything? Please leave a comment!
The dream list of equipment… one day
And for those interested in seeing how I shot the Underwater Realm:
After surviving a crazy 4 hour concept,shoot and edit challenge, I decided to draft up a little survival guide I thought might be useful for all of you to enjoy.
1. Know your stuff. Get it ready!
It is imperative for you to know what resources you’re going to have available to you – what are their limitations. What are the work arounds, if something breaks or fails to work, do you have a backup plan.
- Check your batteries, are they all charged?
- Memory cards. Without these, your camera is useless!
- Triggers: what if they don’t work? Got backups? CLS/cable/optical alternatives?
- Reflector. Bring one it’s useful.
- Tripod. Always want to have one available. Did you bring your base plate? I use the CSLR M-Plate, so my base plate is always tightly screwed onto my camera.
2. Assess the location
Take a couple seconds to look around the space, engage the people that are there at your disposal… Figure out where you can and cannot go. Don’t be scared to ask.
- Is the ceiling low enough to bounce light off of?
- Any interesting objects that can help cast an interesting shadow? Plants are great for this.
- What type of ambient light are you dealing with? Can you turn them on/off?
- Which objects can be moved? What can you do to customize your set?
- How much time do you have available? Who is in charge of the building/space? Become friends with him, he might be able to open some doors for you…literally.
3. Who are the people there and what are they good at ?
If they’re there, they can be used. Figure out what the strengths and weaknesses are of each person that’s there to help you out. Establish a connection with the people and the location. If you’re shooting in a public location and people stop and stare, they can help too!
- Girls are better than boys at makeup and hair. Don’t have a hairstylist? Put a girl to work, she’s probably got more practice than you if you’re male.
- Figure out who has experience in photography. What equipment are they familiar with.
- If they have no experience, take a couple seconds to gather up your potential assistants to explain to them the basics (ex: Don’t put your finger here, this is the optical sensor.)
- Choose wisely. Take a couple seconds to study the people that are available and put them to use accordingly. Don’t put a 12 year old kid on lightstand + umbrella watch duty, he’ll probably get bored and run off.
- Be conscious that these are people probably helping out for free, they’re not your slaves. Be aware of what you’re asking of them. It doesn’t hurt to ask people if everything’s ok.
4. Do first, think later
If time is a very real constraint, get the ball rolling. Turn on all your equipment, take out all the light stands, set up all the softboxes. Have everything ready to go so that when you need it, it’s there.
- If possible, set your assistants to the task. Though they may be slower than you, delegating will free up your hands and mind. If they don’t know how but are a quick learner, get them started and tell them to figure it out.
- Try to lay everything out in a single corner. Seeing your equipment all ready to go can inspire ideas that you hadn’t previously considered.
- Don’t be scared to change things up after you’ve asked someone to do something. If for whatever reason you decide that Flash A should now have a softbox and Flash B a beauty dish instead of the other way around, it’s not the end of the world. No one’s judging you.
As a photographer you’re thinking of concept, lighting, pose, style, communication, timing and more. This means that when one variable changes, the rest need to compensate and the only way to do that is to multitask.
- Can’t multitask? Learn. Start small and build up. You multitask on a daily basis (talking on the phone while cooking while making plans for the next day). How do you do it?
- Create a mental checklist if necessary and run through it over and over again. Here’s an idea of what goes through my mind:
6. Relate to familiar scenarios
Experience plays a huge part in these type of situations. Connect to a similar situation that you had to deal with – what are the similarities. How did you deal with similar challenges.
- If you’re one of those visual people, perhaps it would be handy for you to grab a set of Strobist trade secret cardsor build your own
- Have images you like in a folder on your phone. Seeing images can trigger inspiration.
7. Be confident… or act confident if you’re not.
When you hold the camera in your hand, you’re the dude (or dudette) in charge. Everyone is looking at you to pull the shots. If you look like you have no idea what you’re doing, people will quickly loose confidence in you and things will only get worst.
- Don’t make long uncertain “uhhmmmmm… ahhhhh…” sounds as you consider what to do next. Compliment the parts of the image that work loudly to encourage those that surround you while you panic in your head about the parts that don’t work
- Don’t chimp for too long. A quick glance should tell you how things are looking. People holding uncomfortable poses as you zoom in and consider whether you’ve nailed the perfect Rembrandt lighting will quickly grow uncertain and their pose will suffer int he long run.
- Really want to take the time to review the shot? Call a quick break
- Have a friend in the mix? Pull him/her aside and get an objective opinion… a fresh pair of eyes can help unblock whatever you’re stuck on.
- No idea what to do? Things just really aren’t working? Reset the entire set. Say to the group: “Alright this is great, lets try something new!”
Photo by Jo Gorsky – www.jogorsky.com
For those interested, this was the challenge that triggered it all!
****Are you a long term fan? Please tell me about yourself!
(For those of you too lazy to read the entire blog post, feel free to scroll down for a list of all the pieces I had to buy)
I recently decided to inspire myself from a video I saw posted over at DIY Photography where I saw a fellow photographer by the name of Joe Edelman actually set up a bunch of fluorescent lights on rails and tripods to have a pretty effective and slick home studio.
Rather than Do Things Myself like I was supposed to, my three step plan kinda went something like this:
- Buy the parts
- Get my dad to design the setup
- Get a friend to help drill, dremel and screw things in.
Not a bad plan eh?
The first things I grabbed were a bunch of four light ceiling fixtures. Although there were all sorts of choices (2, 4, 6, 8…) I felt that the fours would really give me a great balance of power and versatility. The Lithonia brand also happened to be the cheapest which suited me just fine! Rather than have a couple of them floating on light stands, I wanted the entire setup to be on rails since my room is relatively small (10 ft x 10 ft) and I really didn’t want to loose space because of tripod feet sticking around.
From there, I grabbed a pocket door kit (also known as Bob in the video) which was substantially more heavy duty than the closet door kit that Joe recommended (better safe than sorry!) with the accompanying 8 foot rails.
Although in theory, simply screwing the closet door kits straight into the ceiling fixtures should have solved all of our issues, my ceiling happens to be pretty high which significantly complicated our lives. Since I didn’t want to be permanently standing on a pedestal everytime I shot a video, I had to figure out a way to lower the entire setup economically.
Thankfully, my dad was readily available for consultation and came up with the brilliant idea of connecting a couple Galvanized 3/4″ Floor Flange to some plastic threaded plumbing rods. Of course as luck would have it, the pocket door kit was only compatible with a 1/2″ flange so we had to buy a bunch of 3/4″ to 1/2″ adapter. What a pain.
I’m not quite certain what I did wrong but I suspect that our canadian prices here are slightly hire than the US ones because my home studio cost me far over the estimated 200$ in Joe Edelman’s version.
Here’s my breakdown:
For a grand total of 550$ + 15% taxes (go Quebec!) = 630$
Add on the cost of the fancy white backdrop + three roller wall mount and I hit 750$… slightly over the budgeted 200$…!
But honestly, the ease to actually pull things down at the flick of a light switch and just be ready to shoot within 5 minutes made it all worthwhile. Total time to put the whole thing together from concept, shopping to ready to go? 3 days.
So the pros and cons of my setup are:
- Zero setup time
- Takes up literally no space at all
- Flexible lighting (two degrees of freedom (back/front and rotation))
- Silent, does not heat up
- 6500K Daylight
- No flicker (even when shooting at higher than 250th shutter speeds. Don’t ask me why, I’m not quite sure but I’m going to guess it has something to do with the “flicker free” that’s marked on my box of fluorescents)
- Only two degrees of freedom (cannot be angled up or down and fixed height)
- Even lighting from all directions. No efficent way to dim a set of fluorescents.
- Slightly expensive.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with what I have but I definitely plan on upgrading it in the near future with additional light banks and perhaps a dedicated variable height ceiling rail system… maybe after my Von Wong Does Europe tour!