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How to make photos at home I.

Part I - low-cost studio

How to build a home studio and not spend a fortune? We can show you how to shoot beautiful studio photos wit equipment up to 5 000 CZK.  

This article is aimed at beginner studio photographers and anyone who wants to learn how to shoot with studio light.

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Social media and Internet are every days flooded by beautiful photos from around the world. And that leaves us with questions like - "How did they do it?" or "What light did they use?". In most cases, we just imagine an expensive studio with even more expensive equipment. Does it have to be this way? Today I would like to focus on not spending a fortune on studio technology and still making beautiful photos at home.

When you are starting with photography, the most important thing is not an expensive studio, but learning how to work with light - to know how is it spreading and behaving in the environment you want to shoot in, to learn how to direct it so the photo will look exactly like you want.

We have a hobby set of flashes STUDIO MINI, Terronic exactly for this purpose. It costs up to 4000 CZK and straight away you have two flashes. This kit is not professional, but it will serve well for this purpose. 

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It is made out of monolights with 45Ws output , stands and umbrellas thanks to which you can soften the light so your photos will look better. The whole set can be packed in a light bag.

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Butt why flash? Thanks to monolights we can shoot on a hight F-number, low ISO and shutter speed 1//125 – 1/200 - that depends on the type of camera we are using. We can easily shade off the light and get a photo with object illuminated just by flash - all that just thanks to the aforementioned capabilities.

When using a STUDIO MINI we are going to need a TR1-IR trigger - which is using an infrared signal (unlike the professional trigger which is using radio signal). Therefore it must be within reach (in a room) where the signal can bounce from the walls to the monolight. It can reach up to 15 m and the signal activates flashes with an active light-sensitive sensor (slave regime).

It is important to mention that changing the quality of monolight bulbs is possible only by changing its distance from objects, or by decreasing the power during diffusion - by softening it through different types of fabrics. 

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Even a starting studio is not going to work without a reflex board. The advantage of  5in1 reflex boards is the amount of deflected light. For warm nude colours use a golden surface for, silver for sharper light, black for highlighting shadows, white for soft reflection of light and for spreading it around a scene or on an object. And last but not least - a transparent white through which you can direct your flash and achieve a soft light according to the surface you'll illuminate.

Now we have everything we need to start shooting. For starters, I would recommend you to use just one of the lights and test it from different angles and distance. And why don't we also try to reflect the light from a whiteboard or a wall and get a soft light? Try it with and without an umbrella. Emit light through umbrella or reflect it. Now you can get the perfect idea of how the light will work in different situations. I always set only one flash and the second one just for completion, even when I roughly know how the lights will look. This will put your lighting in order and you will never have to try to find out from where does this shadow came from, and the like.

How to set up the camera? It is important to use ISO 100 to ensure a quality photo because of which we bought flashes, now the whole set will have a purpose. Taking  into consideration the output of flash we can't use a low f-number. It will be best to start wit a f/8 and then we can increase/decrease the f-number according to the light distance. The shutter speed 1/125 s for this shooting will be enough.This shutter speed will be sufficient whether we use a flash trigger TR-1IR or a camera flash.

Here you can see as an example a photo where I've used one flash in combination with a reflex board.

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One light is pointed to a white surface which is situated on a window. One light is pointed to a white surface which is situated on a window. I've used a transparent white because the opaque one deflected more light than was needed.

Thanks to this I achieved a partial discharge of light and no loss of power. The photo was shooted on ISO 100, f/8 and shutter speed 1/200 s.

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Now we can take a look on an example with two flashes with umbrellas.

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Simplicity pays. Here we used the same settings like on the previous photo.  ISO 100, f/8, shutter speed 1/200 s. The main light is provided by a flash with an umbrella. The second one is placed farther next to the model, lighting up the shadows under her chin. It is imporatant to notice the reflex board. This way you can create really sof and pleasant phototgraphy in the comfort of your home.

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I certainly hope that this article fulfilled its purposed and inspired new photographers to move to a new level of entertainment and creativity.

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Jan Novákproduktový specialista - Studiové vybavení
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