I’ve not done much with studio photography ever because, well, I don’t have a studio and am not likely to be acquiring one anytime soon, though I have been tossing around some ideas on how I could construct some the main elements for under under $100. But having the equipment is one thing. Having the space is quite another.
Still, when I picked up a bouquet for my wife to celebrate “Happy Being Married To Me!” day (yes, I made that up), I decided to turn my living room into a temporary studio and see if I could do some nice staged flower shots. It’s not something I’ve ever tried before.
I set up a little end table with some printer paper on the top to set the vase on, and a white sheet of tagboard behind it propped up on the seat of a chair. This gave me an all-white area to work with. I was about four feet from a south-facing picture window, and I fiddled with the blinds until I was happy with the intensity of the sunlight coming through (even though I was not at all sure what I should be aiming for). I had the camera pointing 90 degrees relative to the window to my left. I set up a flash on a light stand about 45 degrees to my right with a small (8″) softbox on it, and experimented with various distances, settling eventually on about 18″ away. I sprayed the bouquet with the requisite water spray and…I wasn’t quite happy, so I got out my reflector and, for what I think is the first time in my life, attempted to use three light sources on a single subject. The center of the daisy was a little dark for my taste, and the reflector also helped to soften the shadows on he roses just that much more.
I wanted to try capturing it with a black background as well, and I puzzled a bit over how I could get that. The answer was literally in my hands of course. I just propped the black side of the reflector up against the chair where the tagboard had been. I put the black case for the reflector under the vase, and I was ready to go. This meant I no longer had a third light source though – but wait! I just used the white tagboard as a reflector, and I was off to the races.
I put quite a bit of thought into the aperture for these photos. I tried some shots at a tighter f-stop, but the shallower DOF looked a lot better. When doing the white shot, I was using my 50mm prime and the camera was right at it’s minimum focus distance of 18 inches. For this show the flash was probably closer to the subject than the camera was. When I took the black shot, I changed up for my 18-55 kit lens. The aperture doesn’t open as wide for that, of course, but I was able to compensate by getting just a few inches from the subject, thus increasing the apparent DOF.
It was a lot of fun for not very much effort or time (post work took much longer). I can see some definite areas to watch out for the next time I try this to get a better image, but I’m pleased with what I achieved this time around.