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Lighting is Easy Blog

Free resource for learning how to use off-camera flash and studio lighting.

Photographing water drops the easy way

Charles Vosburgh - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Photo: ©Elaine Larimer
The setup is too simple; you set up a pan with water in it. Above that you hang a plasic bag filled with water and poke a hole with a needle to get a drip every second or so. With your camera on a tripod, you just start shooting and shoot until your card is full. Some of them will be keepers. Just that easy.

The setup

Here's a photo of the setup. I made the colored reflectors in Photoshop and printed them out on plain paper.


Some examples

Here are the technical info for Elaine Larimer's shots:

Canon 40D; 1/125 sec; F/6.3; Shutter priority; ISO 100, focal length 300mm on a Tamron 28-300 lens; Flash fired




Photos ©2009 Elaine Larimer

Final thoughts:

It seems that the shots looked best when the flash is set to a very low power setting since the duration of the flash is shorter at lower power. A tripod is a must. It's okay to use a low ISO because you'll be limited by the camera's maximum shutter sync speed anyway. As always, experimentation and patience are the keys to success. If you don't have a way to get your flash off your camera, you can still get great results with your flash on-camera.

Give it a try!

To see more of Elaine's work, click here.

Award-winning results from the simplest of lighting setups

Charles Vosburgh - Tuesday, November 02, 2010


This is a great example of using simple, natural light to get great results. Here's what Laurie Ross said about her image:
"I set up the photo after taking your (Chuck Vosburgh's) studio lighting class.
I bought red velvet at Joann's fabrics and hung it on a potting bench in my garden.  Lighting was afternoon indirect sun and the lens was a 28-300mm.  Processing was BW conversion through Photoshop, also learned in your class!
Having a gorgeous model helps!"
This image won an Honorable Mention in the Morean Arts Center Members' Show. Congratulations Laurie!

Photo © Laurie Ross

Classic portrait lighting technique

Charles Vosburgh - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Model: Chainsaw Chuck Majewski Photographer: Chuck Vosburgh


My buddy Chainsaw Chuck stopped by my Studio Lighting Class at The Arts Center for a few portraits. Chuck is a very talented illustrator and photographer and was more than happy to try anything we could think of.

For this image, I wanted to have a 30's kind of look and give him the look of great stature. So, in the spirit of old school lighting, I used a single bare bulb with a snoot on it. That's it.

You don't need a lot of equipment to get good results. I've noticed that most of the old pros don't use a lot of equipment on their shoots, and I've found as I've grown as a photographer, I'm using less and less equipment. I guess it's just human nature to want to complicate things, and I think there's a lesson there.

Here are the technical specs:

Keeping batteries under control

Charles Vosburgh - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I ran across this product and it's such a great idea, I don't know why no one ever thought of it before. Keeps your batteries organized, you can take 'em out with one hand, and you can put the used ones in upside down so you know they're dead. Amazing. Here's where you can get them:
Tools Aviation

Window Light Style Portraits

Charles Vosburgh - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

An examle of a Window Light style of lighting for a portrait. Model: Gamze, Photographer: Chuck Vosburgh

The window light style of portrait lighting is a classic style that works well with both males and females. The hallmarks of this style is the shape of the shadow on the near side of the nose and the highlight on the side of the face away from the camera. For this piece, a snoot was used as a hair light at about 45º and to the rear. Two large soft boxes were positioned as shown in the drawing and a reflector was used to open up the shadows a bit more and to block the rear soft box from casting a glare on the lens. here's how it was done:

Using HDR to tackle lighting problems

Charles Vosburgh - Monday, November 01, 2010
High Dynamic Range photography is very popular for art photography, but it also has a lot of potential for commercial photography as well.

Consider this: The first shot is a normal image shot in a gallery. The lighting in the gallery is ideal for viewing the sculpture, but not at all good for photography. The lighting is very direct, pretty dim for photography and setting up my own lighting was not an option.

Now, here's the same image photographer HDR:

And a detail comparison:

If you're not familiar with HDR, the concept is simple. You shoot at least three images at different exposures and combine them to get a wider tonal range than you could get in one shot. Kinda like combining bracketed exposures.

In this example, there were three images; one normal exposure, one two stops underexposed and one two stops overexposed. The images were combined using Photomatix and retouched in Photoshop CS4.

What are your thoughts on HDR? Tell us in the comments :)

Unusual DIY Lighting Rigs

Charles Vosburgh - Thursday, October 28, 2010

If you look closely, the photographer is wearing the lighting rig. Dorky, but genius. If you know me, you know I love DIY (Do It Youself) stuff. Tell us about your best DIYs or ones you've seen in the comments. Or better yet, send in some pictures for me to post.
This photo came from light-test.com

Here's another one from my archives. I have no idea where I got it.

What's your craziest lighting rig?
-Chuck Vosburgh