Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 180mm ISO-100 exp: 1s f16
I love the word 'Free' - whats not to like, even though it is a bit of a misnomer. Nothing is actually 'free' per se, but with the current economic crisis and all that, making something is not only rewarding but it can save a small fortune!
Did I really make a studio for free then?
Well not really but it didn't spend anything after deciding to do it. It wasn't hard either, certainly easier than driving to my 'local' camera shop 30 miles away and driving back and setting it up and finding out how to use it and packing it away... You get the idea! All it was was some old stuff I had lying around...
The Kit Used:
- Jessops external Flash
- DSLR body (D7000)
- Tamron 70-300mm (at 180mm)
- Remote control for a remote shutter release (helpful, but a self timer function built into most cameras will work fine)
- An old carboard box about 50-75 cm tall, 10-20 cm deep
- Big stack of books - more is better as you can always not use some, as opposed to stuggling if you don't have enough
- scissors or a knife
- a large black cloth (I used an old bed sheet)
- Smoke source (I used an incense stick, but I guess even a cigarette would do)
- Plate for the smoke - incense sticks can drop embers as can cigarettes so a plate acts as a little protection
If you wanted to, there is absolutely no reason why I (or anyone for that matter) couldn't have got a shot just like this one on any other DSLR camera as long as it can have a shutter speed of 1 second.
I simply chopped off part of the box so that it still had 3 sides. I actually left one of the ends on the box too so I could place some weight on it for stability, but resting it on a wall would do the job just as well. I placed it so it was taller than it was wide.
I drapped an old black bedsheet over the box to make a clean background for the smoke to stand out against, placed a stack of books on the table and set the smoke going using an incense stick. I placed the flashgun behind the books aimed upwards towards where the smoke would be.
I set up the camera by focussing and positioning it correctly and making sure it was set so that the built in flash wouldnot fire, pulled the curtains shut and turned off the lights. Using the Nikon remote control on a 2 second delay, I set the delay countdown off. When the shutter opened I fired it within the next 1/2 second or so by pressing the test button on the back of the flashgun.
This meant that the camera would only be exposed effectively for a fraction of a second despite having the shutter time of 1 second. I think all in all I took about 15-20 images (one of the great advantages of DSLRs).
I uploaded them to the computer in an instant (another one of the great advantages of DSLRs) and was immediatly dismayed - the smoke was either blown for some reason so it was not in the right place, or the smoke trails were simply quite boring.
As I was reviewing them, I spotted the potential in this one and decided to play around with it. I loaded photoshop and mirrored the image down the centre, applied a layer with a few colours in it and saved it with the watermark.
I love this image, even thouigh I am generally not for using a computer to touch up an image. To be honest, I felt quite relieved, mainly for two reasons:-
- I had set out to create something which looked good visually and after farting around with it came up with an image I was happy and proud of
- and I had managed to prove that with an old box and the kit I already owned I could set up a studio in my living room (albeit rather small)
So as you can see, there is very little costs involved with this project, and it makes a great photography project or opportunity for a rainy day, if you are bored or secretly a miser. I still have the box and cloth now and still bring it out now and then when I find time.