Photostudio on a Shoestring
April 20, 2007 11:10 AM   Subscribe

I've been asked to take some headshots for a friend of a friend who will be using the shots for entry into a beauty contest. I don't have a studio or studio lighting. Is there a way to rig up a portrait studio on a budget? What would I need?

Equipment I have:

Canon 20D
50mm f1.8 (80mm with the 1.5 factor)
70-200 f2.8 (112mm - 320mm with 1.5 factor)
100mm f2.8 (160mm with the 1.5 factor)
580EX flash
420 EX flash

I'd like to take the photographs indoors if possible but she's willing to shoot outdoors as well (if the weather holds up).

Thanks for you help!
posted by inviolable to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to try this.
posted by fallenposters at 11:22 AM on April 20, 2007

I have some soft lights I use for video shoots that I built for cheap out of materials from Home Depot. Basically just a photoflood bulb in a hemispherical metal reflector, all attached to a dimmer, and a sheet of diffusion thrown over the front. Bulbs aside this should cost less than $5/unit. Two of these about 100 degrees apart in front of and above the head of your subject (to reduce shadows) in front of a neutral background is probably how I'd go, but what do I know.
posted by jtron at 11:25 AM on April 20, 2007

reflectors. i've use white pieces of paper, one of the weird contraptions to keep your car's dashboard cool, anything.
posted by phaedon at 11:25 AM on April 20, 2007

check out the flickr strobist and canon dslr user groups. there have been a few questions like this in the past.

your two flashes should enable you to do a lot. check out the advise here on using a bouncecard: Fashion Photography tips

50mm f1.8 (80mm with the 1.5 factor)
I *think* it's 1.3 - making this a 75mm lens. either way, I'd use the 100mm.
posted by krautland at 11:28 AM on April 20, 2007

No need for lights.

Find the biggest window you can and sit her by it. You don't want direct sunlight though. North facing is good.

You can use a white sheet or similar as a reflector if you want.

Use the widest aperture you can and focus on the eyes.
posted by unSane at 11:57 AM on April 20, 2007 seems to have a lot of plans for diy studio stuff.
posted by lekvar at 12:14 PM on April 20, 2007

Seconding shooting at 90 degrees to a window, with the aid of reflectors. This works really well, and I've even seen magazine stills photography done this way.

Or you can use any old lights if you're going to shoot in B&W, of course.
posted by humblepigeon at 12:37 PM on April 20, 2007

You can try the old paparazzi trick of turning your flash head up to point at the sky/ceiling, and attaching a white card to the back of it. The white card reflects the flash onto the subject, and makes for lighting that's a lot less strong.
posted by humblepigeon at 12:52 PM on April 20, 2007

A couple sheets of foamcore board from the local crafts shop make good reflectors. They're stiff and light and you can stack 'em, tape 'em together for a bigger reflector, whatever. You can also wrap 'em in aluminum foil for a stronger reflection.
posted by ardgedee at 2:49 PM on April 20, 2007

Use a lens or focal length right around 100mm (35mm equivalent), which is regarded as the most pleasing for portraiture. Avoid using the camera's built-in flash. If your flashes don't slave automatically, find plans somewhere for cheap homemade photocell slave units.

Besides the websites noted above, any library should give you a choice of books on portait lighting techniques. Shooting in digital is a huge advantage, since you can check out your exposures cheaply. I remember working for a local portrait studio, shooting weddings, we were contractually obligated to take polaroids to test our lighting setups.
posted by lhauser at 3:33 PM on April 20, 2007

In the past, I've made some phenomenal shots with some $5 worklights from Home Depot and thin tshirts stretched across them to soften the light. Cheap and easy and you don't need a light meter. And you're shooting digital, so you don't even have to filter.
posted by nevercalm at 4:04 PM on April 20, 2007

this guy has a lot of good info:
also i second checking out the strobist blog. its pretty bad-ass.
posted by kneelconqueso at 5:06 PM on April 21, 2007

« Older Help me find this lucky cat!   |   use me twice, shame on you Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.