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Taking portraits at home

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    AndyD999  243 forum posts England6 Constructive Critique Points
    15 Mar 2012 - 12:32 PM

    I am sure this has been answered before but here goes.....

    I wanting to take some pictures at home which look like they have been shot in a studio. I am on a very tight budget and was wondering what I need?

    Can I use any items around the house to help?

    Where is the best place to shoot the pictures.

    I have a canon 400d camera and a tripod.

    Where is the best place to place with peson with relation to the light and best place to put the lamps flashes ect


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    hobbo e2 Member 3789 forum postshobbo vcard England2 Constructive Critique Points
    15 Mar 2012 - 1:33 PM

    My solution is, to take them(if you can) just inside a north facing window or doorway, or any window on a fairly dull day, that way you get beautiful natural that is also directional.

    Don't use flash, to avoid annoying shadow or dark areas get the sitter to hold a reflector out of shot, a large sheet of white paper will suffice.

    If you look through my gallery you will see portraits of my grandchildren taken this way, with a bit of thought, it really works.

    Hope this helps?


    Sooty_1 Critique Team 41195 forum posts United Kingdom196 Constructive Critique Points
    15 Mar 2012 - 2:29 PM

    Depends what sort of pictures you want to shoot (head/shoulders, half length, full length etc), what kit you already have (flashgun, flash heads, angle poise lamps, large mobile room lamps) and the space you have to shoot in (small room, large room, conservatory etc).

    You can shoot good head shots with nothing more than a couple of angle poise lamps or similar, and a couple of reflectors (as said, white card or something will work). If you have a flash gun, you can get brollies and softbox attachments, though the power tends to be quite low, you can get close to the model. Shoot through greaseproof paper for a home-made softbox, or use thin screening material or a couple of layers of net curtain.

    Or, as stated, use a large (preferably north-facing) window, with net curtain if you have some to diffuse the light. This will act like a large softbox, though you might have trouble balancing any other light source with it, so you will need reflectors to control light distribution.

    Finding some way to hang a backdrop will help (an ironed sheet will work, as long as there are no creases or you can hide them) and you can make your own backdrops using offcuts of material, spray paint etc.

    As far as placing the lights, bag a willing volunteer, place the camera on a tripod and move the light(s) around, shooting and noting where you put them. You will see the effects of positioning and have notes to go back to, to achieve a specific set-up. Experimenting will only take 10-15 mins for a basic set up.

    There are all sorts of resources online, just google "studio lighting diagrams" or similar, and they show how to set up lights and show the effects.

    Experiment, experiment experiment. And don't spend much money!!!

    Nick Wink

    JackAllTog e2 Member 53579 forum postsJackAllTog vcard United Kingdom58 Constructive Critique Points
    15 Mar 2012 - 4:02 PM

    Quote: ..... I wanting to take some pictures at home which look like they have been shot in a studio..............

    I'm assuming there is always a bit of a compromise in this situation, for me its mostly space. and i think that's as light falloff is an inverse square law - so light close to backdrops etc can over light one area yet not light another as they themselves are too close to the backdrop.

    More than half my recent portfolio is shot in a 3.2M wide front room.

    All the above comments are good - what style shots do you want; each requires a different approach.
    Fer me i'm trying full length 1 or 2 people fashion shots so big wide clean backgrounds are mostly needed. - Approx 50 for an 11M long, 2.7M wide roll of paper. If you don't need feet in your shots then a much simpler backdrop is possible.

    Lighting - Window light is free and lovely - do you want these soft moody shots and can you shoot in the daytime ?

    Lighting - continuous - look for 105W energy efficient daylight bulbs on eBay - daylight balanced and about 15 each. Very bright and 500W equivalent. then maybe consider a diffusing brolly and stand (or just tracing paper)
    The only negative i see is that pupils will shrink as the light is bright.

    Then Flash light..... 30 for a simple manual speed lite to 500 for a powerful TTL one, or 100 to 1000 for a studio light.
    You can start with one but will soon be wanting 4.

    Lens - 50mm f1.8 - wow brilliant, though you may need wider for full body.
    look at Angi's people photo's for brilliance on a budget camera combo.
    Whenever you think your photo's are not great and its the camera's fault - look again at her portfolio - so much of it is shot with a 400D, though now some on a 60D as well. Then you know its not the camera's fault. She has been a fav of mine for a few years now because her work is just great technique.

    CathyT e2 Member 87271 forum postsCathyT vcard United Kingdom18 Constructive Critique Points
    15 Mar 2012 - 4:12 PM

    Mine are all natural light......get as close to the window as poss and maybe for a dark background get a velvet curtain. You can make the area around the model darker by wrapping it around and add some intense light with a reflector angled onto the face......


    sabretalon  101918 forum posts United Kingdom
    15 Mar 2012 - 9:38 PM

    White bed sheets, I have some lights from a diy store that could be used (if I did not have portable studio gear). Conservatory is good as well. All good for light backgrounds. Cathy shows a good techniques for darker images and the above would work well in B&W as well.

    Then you could experiment with painting with light;

    Link 1

    Putting the scene together Link 2

    The image on the right of this shows how a long exposure with light painted on the model can be very effective, the cloth use on the floor looks just like mist in the finished image. Link 3

    At home you can experiment all the time. You don't need models, you can use just any old household object as the model.


    99% of my shots are took at my home i use studio flash and natural light, walk around ur house and look at it in a different light for shooting and you will see it different, i recently had a model hanging out of my patio doors for a shot and it paid off also done shower shots the area is 7ft x 3 ft, white, black or any bed sets are good (i use king size), throws are also good i get mine from B&M bargains for around a tenner and they are huge just chuck them over the settee/chairs etc and job done Smile take a look at my pics and see for urself Smile

    hope this helps


    AndyD999  243 forum posts England6 Constructive Critique Points
    16 Mar 2012 - 8:01 AM

    WOW. Thanks so much for all your help and advice everyone. I am just amazed at how helpful and friendly you have all been with your advice. Looks like i better get looking and practising. Many thanks once again!


    adrian_w e2 Member 73293 forum postsadrian_w vcard Scotland4 Constructive Critique Points
    16 Mar 2012 - 12:44 PM

    Quote: At home you can experiment all the time. You don't need models, you can use just any old household object as the model.

    Wow, that's a bit rude about his wife isn't it? Wink

    PinkK  580 forum posts United Kingdom1 Constructive Critique Points
    15 May 2012 - 6:00 PM

    Came across this thread by chance....I just use natural window light for my images, mainly due to lack of funds..and knowledge..for buying any lighting Smile

    Bluke  9303 forum posts United Kingdom1 Constructive Critique Points
    15 May 2012 - 6:34 PM

    Andy I have all types of studio lights... but a few years ago I got these, they are cheap and give out plenty of light....great for in the home if I am just taking some family party photos ....


    Good Luck...

    Fishnet  104976 forum posts United Kingdom5 Constructive Critique Points
    15 May 2012 - 11:23 PM

    I do have studio lights and a speedlite but can't always be bothered to get them out especially as my 'studio' is now more of a sewing studio than photography one these days.

    I needed my daughter to model some fascinators I had made and got her to stand facing a window with a white voile curtain in a white room, I evened things out a bit in photoshop afterwards i.e areas that had a tad too much shadow etc, but nothing major, and I was amazed at how much they looked as if studio lights had been used.




    bugdozer  1077 forum posts2 Constructive Critique Points
    16 May 2012 - 12:16 AM

    Great shots there Fishnet - I am guessing you used some sort of reflector to keep shadows out from under her nose and chin?

    Fishnet  104976 forum posts United Kingdom5 Constructive Critique Points
    16 May 2012 - 12:33 AM

    Thanks Smile

    No I didn't, the room is entirely white, including the floor so maybe that helped, but I just stood her in front of the window but at the back of the room so the light was softer and that was it.

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