I have always considered myself a “self-taught” photographer (minus those few B&W darkroom classes I took in high-school). It’s been a long journey for me, and my transfer from film to digital has definitely had its challenges. For example, I vividly remember trying to figure out how to work my first digital SLR (a Nikon D2H) … I was on vacation and really using it for the first time, and was so frustrated that the exposure kept going all wacky on me. It turns out that it was on bracketing mode and I didn’t realize it! Hehe … it was only uphill from there.
When I started contributing to iStock, one of the first things I wanted to master the white-background effect. I did some research, and thanks to Strobist I was able to create my own little soft-box out of a cardboard box, see-through white paper and poster board (oh, and sunlight, of course). This is one of my photos I took with that cute little box.
Eventually I wanted to photograph people, so I invested in some background equipment, and also some AlienBees strobes. I honestly had no idea what I was doing! My setup was one light on the backdrop, located directly behind the subject, and two lights (each with soft-boxes) lighting the subject. (This was in a small room … about the size of a small bedroom.) I had some good luck and got some great shots (here’s one of them) but had very limited space in my little house in Hawaii. It’s been well over a year and a half since I last did any white-background images, so I thought I would do some updated ones with my usual models.
Now that I have an entire garage at my disposal, I was able to bring the subject further from the backdrop and light the background with two lights, blocking any spill with a few bi-fold closet doors I got at Home Depot for $34 each. I also used one of my Nikon speedlights as an additional light on the kids … here’s the photo of my complete setup. The above is a time-lapse of setting-up and a few finished images of my “studio” and photographing the kids. Here’s a list of the equipment used in that shoot:
- Camera: Nikon D200
- Lens: Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
- Lights: AlienBees 1600 (x3) – one w/ octagon softbox, two with field reflectors; one Nikon SB-800 w/ shoot-through umbrella
- Trigger: PocketWizards (x3) – one on SB-800, one on AB-1600 (the other two strobes were triggered optically), one on-camera
- Misc: Bi-fold closet doors (x2)
- Backdrop: 2-Sided Flex-out (black/white)
I believe that there is never an end to learning about photography, and so that’s why I put this little video together. It’s because of other wonderful artists out there who share their tidbits of information about photography with the world that has brought me to where I am today, so I want to do what I can to spread the love, too. So, with that said … please enjoy the video!