The DIY Light Box

FOR YEARS I ENJOYED SHOOTING A TWO-LIGHT SETUP with my two White Lightning Ultra 1200 studio strobes, placing each in a softbox – one on the floor, pointed up, and the other on a light stand, pointed down. Between these two softboxes would be a 4′ x 4′ sheet of 1/8-inch white Plexiglas on which I’d place numerous subjects, including flowers and fruit and vegetable slices. The image below is an example made this way. But as much as I enjoyed this setup, it did take up a large corner of a room, and it was expensive!

 create your own light box

Then one day I stumbled upon the obvious. I lined the inside of a medium-size cardboard box with white poster board, replicating a softbox. I put one of my portable electronic flashes inside the box, pointing it up. On top of the box, I placed a sheet of 1/8-inch white Plexiglas which I found at Home Depot. I mounted another portable flash on a light stand overhead about 2 feet above the box. Due to the obstruction of the one flash in the box, you will need some kind of wireless device to get both of the strobes to fire simultaneously. I’ve found a radio remote, such as a PocketWizard, to be most successful.

To start, set both flashes to the same output – full power and in MANUAL FLASH MODE. Make sure that both flash distance scales indicate the same f-stop. (F/11 is a good place to begin since this is a set-up where depth of field is not an issue). Keep in mind that the flash in the cardboard box will be illuminating the subject through the 1/8-inch Plexiglas, so don’t place a diffuser or any other light-filtering device on that particular strobe. The Plexiglas becomes the diffuser. However, do place a diffuser on the flash sitting atop the light stand flash. Next, call on a normal sync speed of 1/125 sec., 1/200 sec., or 1/250 sec.; that choice is yours. Then place a flower or other small subject on the 1/8-inch Plexiglas, and shoot down on the setup. Check your exposure. Your goal is a subject floating in white space while being well exposed from both front and back. Many subjects will appear to glow. This is due to the strong backlight of the strobe firing from inside the box. You may end up decreasing the power of one strobe to make it mesh more with the light output of the other. It’s easier to make any changes to the strobe outside the box (the one on the light stand). Here are two examples of how magical this lighting set-up is! Both photos: 105mm lens, ISO 200, f/11 for 1/125 sec.

how to make a light box

 

Click below to watch a video stream that makes this idea even easier to understand – and keep on shooting!

All my best,

Bryan F. Peterson

Color Tips for Everyone!

It is difficult to imagine a world without color.

Helen Keller said:

“I understand how scarlet can differ from crimson because I know that the smell of an orange is not the smell of a grapefruit…Without color or its equivalent, life to me would be dark, barren, a vast blackness…”

Yet most often, we take color for granted and often do not really see its true spectrum. Like light or air we know surrounds us, we miss the nuances. Learning about color opens eyes and enhances photographic vision.

As photographers, we focus on color and color’s narrative voice adds emotion, impact, and metaphor.

Color affects the food we eat, the clothes we wear, our purchases, our moods, even our body temperature. Marketers are well aware of the psychological and biological powers of color, and they use these factors to influence our behavior. Consider that nearly 85% of all purchases are powered by color, decisions are made within 90 seconds based on color, and color can improve reading, learning, and comprehension. (Psychology of Color, Hubspot, Lindsey Kolowich).

Read along to learn some interesting information on the colors red, yellow, and blue (pigment primary colors).

Photography by Cheryl Machat Dorskind

I often suggest that young children wear red shirts when photographing in a field of greenery. Red and green are complements, colors opposite each other on the color wheel (a topic thoroughly explored in both my color classes). Pairing red and green creates color harmony and adds contrast – POWer.

 

RED

The human eye is most sensitive to red and red evokes strong emotions. Seeing the color red can raise blood pressure and stimulate appetite – that is why so many restaurants use red as wall coloring or décor. Red, an attention grabber (think stop sign), is often used in packaging to stimulate impulse buying.

Red sits on top of the rainbow and brands such as Netflix, CNN, LEGO, Canon, Adobe, and YouTube embrace the power of red in their logos.

 

Notice how red logos pop or move forward against a white background. Red, considered a warm color moves forward. The use of black in the font adds contrast to the logo.  White enhances the space of the name. Consider these same logos against a black background. I offer these logos to ignite thought. Are you using the right color in your logo and background to best convey your brand’s essence?

Notice how red logos pop or move forward against a white background. Red, considered a warm color moves forward. The use of black in the font adds contrast to the logo. White enhances the space of the name. Consider these same logos against a black background. I offer these logos to ignite thought. Are you using the right color in your logo and background to best convey your brand’s essence?

 

 

Food for thought, as some photographers prefer a black background for their websites. Notice how the yellow outline in the LEGO logo creates a shimmery effect and is therefore more eye-catching. Which background do you prefer, white or black?

Food for thought, as some photographers prefer a black background for their websites. Notice how the yellow outline in the LEGO logo creates a shimmery effect and is therefore more eye-catching. Which background do you prefer, white or black?

 

 

 

Yellow

A yellow shirt was selected purposefully to create a high key (light tones). In addition to yellow’s warm qualities, a high key image evokes purity and hopeful notions. The yellow shirt adds a happy notation.

A yellow shirt was selected purposefully to create a high key (light tones). In addition to yellow’s warm qualities, a high key image evokes purity and hopeful notions. The yellow shirt adds a happy notation.

 

Yellow connotes cheerfulness, optimism, intuition, and warmth. Yellow stimulates the nervous system, encourages communication, but causes fatigue and eyestrain. For many yellow awakens our inner child – maybe we think of the yellow-rubber duckies or the happy face emoticons 😀

Yellow is used to grab attention, show clarity, and represents optimism. Notice how companies such as National Geographic, IMDb, Best Buy, Sundance Films, and Nikon incorporate yellow into their branding.

A yellow shirt was selected purposefully to create a high key (light tones). In addition to yellow’s warm qualities, a high key image evokes purity and hopeful notions. The yellow shirt adds a happy notation.

A yellow shirt was selected purposefully to create a high key (light tones). In addition to yellow’s warm qualities, a high key image evokes purity and hopeful notions. The yellow shirt adds a happy notation.

 

Yellow is the lightest of colors and evokes warmth, therefore it is the most common color found in home décor.

 

Blue

Blue, perceived as a constant, represents calmness and serenity and is associated with water and peace. Arguably the most popular universal color, the color blue also curbs appetite.

 

Blue, a cool color, recedes, creating depth and makes a perfect background for white. This color pairing fact can be applied to clothing, still lifes, and landscapes to enhance compositions.

Blue, a cool color, recedes, creating depth and makes a perfect background for white. This color pairing fact can be applied to clothing, still lifes, and landscapes to enhance compositions.

 

Why are so many corporate offices decorated with blue? Working in a blue environment is known to increase productivity. Blue also infers trust and security – a blue suit remains the symbol of professionalism. Think about how many tech and social media companies use blue for their branding. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vimeo, Dell, and Tumblr are just a few examples of corporations reinforcing trust, reliability, and confidence with color.

While these companies use blue as the hue (another word for color), you can see that there are many shades of blue and each has its own cultural connotations. For instance, dark blue is often associated with trust, dignity, intelligence and authority, whereas, bright blue connotes coolness and strength.  Blue works beautifully against a white background.

While these companies use blue as the hue (another word for color), you can see that there are many shades of blue and each has its own cultural connotations. For instance, dark blue is often associated with trust, dignity, intelligence and authority, whereas, bright blue connotes coolness and strength. Blue works beautifully against a white background.

 

So how do these color facts fit in with your photography?

First, learning about color theory, color psychology, and color biology will sensitize you to the world and your environment. Like wearing 3-D glasses, you will see depth and added clarity and feel more alive. You will be in tune with the power of color and understand how it is affecting and influencing you.

Second, you will notice more about your color preferences and hence your photographic motivations – chances are they are not as arbitrary as supposed.

As an exercise, review your photo library surveying color. I bet you will see a pattern, a propensity for a certain color or a category such as warm tones (red, yellow) or cool tones (blue, violet).

Lastly, strategize using color on your next photo outing. If you are photographing people, think about the colors of the clothes. Create color harmony and experiment to narrate personality. In my examples, I used family and children to illustrate the color theory logic, but the theories apply to all types of photography.

 

photo-safari-print-sp

 

 

Quick question: Which do you prefer the cool blues or the warm reds?  Send me an email: cheryl@cherylmachatdorskind.com and let’s start a conversation.

all-about-color

Join me for All About Color and More About Color (July only) and allow me to share my passion for color, a topic I have spent over ten years researching. I fell in love with the theory of color while working on my first book, The Art of Handpainting Photographs. Using washes of oil paints to enhance my photographs, I discovered the power of color and have been sharing my discoveries ever since.

 

Click here to read testimonials about how my color class has impacted students’ vision.

I also teach Photographing Children Naturally, based in part on my eBook and Painting Photos at bpsop.com.

I hope to see you in one of my online classes sometime soon!

All my best,

Cheryl

PS I am running a sweepstake on my FB page. I am giving away three Premium codes to a fantastic task management and to-do-list app – Todoist (yearly subscription $29 value).

Come on over to Facebook, like my page, and sign up (click the sweepstake tab) to win a fantastic tool to stay organized. Three winners will be chosen on July 15th. And of course, color labels are an intricate detail of this popular app.

 

Color Matters

By Cheryl Machat Dorskind

ABOUT NEGATIVE SPACE

Few weeks ago we had in our Project52  group theme called “Negative space” and I was surprised to find out, how many people had a trouble to visualize this idea. Many many times it was represented by something negative. Negative emotions, negative thoughts, negative places etc… But the idea of negative space has nothing to do with any negative thoughts! To help my fellow friends and photographers, I have decided to go through my library and put together images from my archive, which I believe represent powerful photography concept of negative space quite well and will help to get the idea by examples.

using negative spaceSpain

When shooting negative space, don’t forget – it is not about negativity… it is more about the space! You want to find vast spaces, mostly without anything or with a boring, uninterested pattern… and then somewhere in the picture (typically towards the corner and at the intersection of golden thirds) BOOM! there’s something unexpected, which will break the picture. This “unexpected” will bring the meaning, will give the scale, will explain the rest of the space… So it will be the contrary (hence negative, meaning opposite) to the rest of the available, but unused space…

As always, picture is worth thousand words, so let me show you what I mean in following examples.

02-negative-space-patrik-banas

Switzerland

 

 

This photo tip with and many other fresh photography ideas you can find on my blog here.

Think negative! 😉 And have fun!

Patrik Banas | www.patrikbanas.com

 

03-negative-space-patrik-banas

Death Valley, CA

 

04-negative-space-patrik-banas

Greece

 

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Greece

 

06-negative-space-patrik-banas

Death Valley, CA

 

07-negative-space-patrik-banas

Greece

 

08-negative-space-patrik-banas

Switzerland

 

09-negative-space-patrik-banas

Greece

 

10-negative-space-patrik-banas

Corsica, France

 

11-negative-space-patrik-banas

South Korea

 

12-negative-space-patrik-banas

Switzerland

 

13-negative-space-patrik-banas

South Korea

 

14-negative-space-patrik-banas

Greece

 

Looking for something specific!

One of the things we do in our Art of Seeing class is how begin seeing things by looking for something specific.  We start with line, pattern, color and texture and our students are always amazed by how much they SEE after these lessons.  It’s a great exercise to give yourself if you are walking out the door to go shooting.  When people have a couple hours to go out and shoot in the weekend they often find themselves coming home with mediocre images.  The reason is that the world is overwhelming and when you look at everything, you often see nothing.  On a recent workshop I sent my students out on what I call a speed round.  We were in downtown Seattle and I set a goal of line, pattern or something like that and everyone went out  and met back at the same place 20 minutes later to compare results.  Once we had done a few of those, I sent us all out to capture Reflections.  Reflections in the city can be a LOT of fun to play with.  A puddle on the ground….


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Can be far more exciting when you get down on the ground.


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Cities are filled with building fronts made of glass and getting right up against that glass can also turn out some really dramatic and surprising results.


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I captured a few as I walked around with those 20 minutes clicking away in my mind.


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Then I ended up down by Seattle’s famous Public Market and found JUST what I was looking for…


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The interesting thing was, our group had spend a significant amount of time at this intersection earlier in the morning, but we didn’t happen to be looking for reflections.  It was a wonderful surprise and possible only because I was specifically looking for something.  So, grab your camera, head out the door with a time limit and something to look for.  Check out the Art of Seeing class and have some fun seeing your world through a whole new set of eyes!
By Chris Hurtt

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  • Thank you for all the courses that you provide for us fledgling photographers. Your instructors truly inspire me to keep on working and improving at this craft. My first course with BPSOP was Understanding Exposure in 2014 when I had no idea what ISO, F-Stop or shutter speed meant. Since then, I believe I have taken close to 13 other courses with BPSOP!
    Sandi Holst BPSOP Student
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