- Become a better photographer today!
remember me:     

BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

To participate in the Forum, become a BetterPhoto member or Sign In.

Photography Question 
Sabrina Coates

member since: 2/6/2003

How to Start Up Your Own Photo Studio?

My question is, what all do you need to have a home photography studio (equipment and accessories)?

2/6/2003 11:39:09 AM

Shelley Sanders

member since: 10/15/2001
  Sabrina, I have gone through many stages with my "home studio". I can give you the most basic of guidance on this.

I started with desk lamps and fabric for backdrops. Then later I purchased foam board for backgrounds and a couple of flood lamps from the hardware store. THEN, I had my husband build a backdrop hanger out of PVC pipe and I purchased an auto light from the hardware store. LIGHT, very important to my digital. Just recently, my husband purchased a lighting kit for me consisting of three floods and diffusers. Before this, all expenses were next to nothing. Even this kit was affordable. I would suggest reflectors and or softboxes with such bright lights. You can also get creative with gels and express with color without changing your background. Oh yeah, I also purchased some basic white window shades. On one side of one I sponged black and pearl to create a smooth texture of gray for more professional portraits.

Denise Miotke has a wonderful article on making backdrops at this site

Also, if you are interested in still lifes and want to make an inexpensive box studio, refer to this article
I hope at least some of this helps.

2/6/2003 5:24:07 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
First point is a safety one. If you go the "hot light" route, especially with halogens, be careful when using light modifiers on them and ensure the heat has someplace to go *other* than starting a light modifier on fire. They're referred to as "hot lights" for very good reason.

If you're using film, be aware that "hot lights" are *not* the same as daylight. Incandescent lamps have very little blue and a lot more red and yellow compared to daylight. The higher powered halogens are usually close enough to tungsten photo lights in color balance that you can use tungsten balanced film with them and get good results.

If you're contemplating monolights (studio strobes) and even think you might eventually branch out into doing things like weddings, don't scrimp on the lights you buy. Save your money and get some higher powered ones. In a home studio you can crank the power down on them. At a wedding in a large church, the distances from lights to subjects are much farther and the spaces are much bigger (the light dissipates more). You'll *need* the power.

BTW, I use a similar system at home in a dining room for photographing small objects and plants. My favored backdrop is pure black. These home-made backdrops are made from polar fleece which has very low reflectivity and very low texture. One of the other favored materials for achieving a deep pitch-black background is velvet, but select it carefully. Some velvets have a reflective sheen to them. I also found velvet to be quite expensive compared to similar lenghts of polar fleece.

-- John

2/12/2003 5:33:30 PM

Stephanie Post

member since: 1/15/2003
© Stephanie Post
© Stephanie Post
  Found my toes!!
Found my toes!!
© Stephanie Post
I have been experimenting with my own home studio and have gotten some great results using the GE REVEAL bulbs. 40-60 watts max. I also use a black peice of polar fleece. It is so versatile.
Anyway, back to the lights, I also use an autoshade for a reflector, it works just as good and sometimes better than the ones you can get for 30 bucks or more and only costs about 6 bucks! Happy shooting!

2/18/2003 3:32:02 PM

Jim Covill

member since: 12/17/2000
  My 2 CDN cents. Back in my University days and on a tighter budget, I started out with 3 brushed aluminum lights with stands. With B+W no need to worry about colour balance; with colour I switched to blue photofloods bulb (note - change temp over time). Later bought a decent halogen kit - as per earlier posts -extremely hot - your models will break out in a sweat. I built a simple plug and variable slider switch kit so I could set the lights up without generating too much heat. The beauty of using lamps (as opposed to flash) in your early days is you get to see the lighting effects directly - buy a head they put wigs on and play around abit -well worth the time in my opinion.
If you have some extra money you might consider a decent hand held meter - incident and flash type is a bonus.
For backdrops, I once saw somebody make a backdrop out of artificial Christmas branches - looked strange but worked surprisingly well!

2/18/2003 3:54:44 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  Some details about GE's "Reveal" bulbs:
I investigated these just after GE created them, and use them in a couple places in my home where some large color prints are displayed. However, I do not use them for making photographs with daylight or tungsten films. If you're getting decently balanced prints from daylight film using these, you are indeed very lucky. Whoever is making the prints is doing an incredible, extraordinary color balancing job for you. IIRC, the neodymium mineral coating on these abosorbs light in the yellow-green region and re-radiates it as red and blue (albeit not efficiently). This reduces some of the middle portion of the spectrum and adds a portion of the reduction to *both* ends. They increase the level of magenta compared to a standard incandescent. The human eye and brain perception is light closer to daylight, but it's still way off the blackbody locus on x-y color charts. Because of this, a description of their "color temperature" is not very meaningful, and it's still not even close to true daylight balanced light. The advertising you see for them is a combination of a little hype mixed in with how the human eye and brain perceives the light they emit.

There are incandescent bulbs with blue coatings made specifically for growing indoor plants and these are closer to daylight balance than GE's Reveal bulbs. If you find them, read the side of the package very carefully. You should not use them in a generic lamp socket. Because of the extreme blue coating on the bulb's glass envelope, much of the energy given off by the filament turns into heat. They get very hot and require the use of ceramic sockets made for high heat producing bulbs such as flood lights. Plastic ones can melt, Bakelite sockets can suffer heat damage (IIRC, they crumble to a brownish powder), and they also use paper insulator tubes inside them which can scorch and burn. Equally problematic with heat issues is the use of any light modifiers around them; typically made of nylon, rayon or similar synthetic materials that can melt or burn. Use of them with these bulbs (or any "hot lights") requires care to keep them from getting too hot. However, the incandescent ones can be close enough to daylight that a good printer can do the rest of the color balancing work without extraordinary effort.

Depending on intended application, fluorescent versions of these "daylight" bulbs are designed either for how the human eye perceives light, or simply to provide enough at the blue end to make plants happy. We use some of these at work where initial evaluation and comparison of paint color matching is done. (Critical work is done in a special booth that can provide several types of very accurate lighting.) They're not designed for film use and because they are fluorescents, they do not create light evenly across the spectrum, but with strong spikes of very specific colors. The human eye and brain perform complex "filtering" of light that film cannot perform, and respond with a perception of daylight.

The more I did a "deep dive" into alternative studio lighting methods, the more I realized that daylight balanced strobes for use with daylight color film, "hot lights" with higher power level quartz halogens or true 3200K photographic bulbs with tungsten balanced color film, and either method with B&W film were the only reliable options.

Jim C. is quite correct that B&W films do not require much of any concern about light balance.

-- John

2/18/2003 7:45:48 PM


To participate in the Forum, become a BetterPhoto member or Sign In.

Copyright 1996-2014, Inc. All Rights Reserved.