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Tips for cheap diy photo equipment

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doczoc  11773 forum posts
31 Mar 2003 - 11:01 PM

Anyone know of any websites offering tips on making cheap equipment for photograhy, lighting, reflectors etc?

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31 Mar 2003 - 11:01 PM

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neptune  1176 forum posts England
1 Apr 2003 - 10:34 PM

Don't know of any websites, but I use a lot of mountboard in my photography. It's cheap and makes great simple backgrounds, and is available in loads of different colours. You can get it from most art shops for around 6 for a full 6ft sheet, although I tend to buy the offcuts, which I pick up for about 50p - 1 each. These could be anywhere between 12ins and 3ft in size, depending on the colour (whether they want it hanging around the shop).

Reflectors are easy too. Try foil stuck to a piece of card, or a sheet of high gloss inkjet paper. I'm sure there must be many more great ideas from other members.

Big Bri
Big Bri  1315605 forum posts United Kingdom
1 Apr 2003 - 11:03 PM

I use the shiny cardboard/foil disks from frozen pizzas as reflectors, but then I always was cheap.

Pete Site Moderator 1318459 forum postsPete vcard ePz Advertiser England96 Constructive Critique Points
1 Apr 2003 - 11:26 PM

There are a couple of money saving tips here and here

ella  1143 forum posts
2 Apr 2003 - 9:49 AM

If you want large peices of card / mountboard etc. for FREE!!!!! you should try your local scrap store. They normally list in the phone book and have all sorts of industry left overs. Lots of board / paper / fabric / card / shiny things / rolls of foils etc. Also useful are large polystyrene sheets (great reflectors), DVD boxes for storing your CD image library, acetate for creative filtering effects.

If you don't use it for your photography, great for kids art projects.

Obviously the benefits to the environment of supporting schemes that make use of materials that would otherwise be thrown away is the main advantage. It normwally costs about 20 per year, and then you take as much stuff on as many visits you like for no charge at all!

Even Lawrence LLewllen Bowen uses our local scrap store! (good enough for him, then good enough for me)


2 Apr 2003 - 11:22 AM

Not sure I'd look to Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen to influence where I shop!

Here's my tip, which I'm sure is not original and is as old as the hills, but I tried it for the first time recently to good effect.

With a hotshoe flash with a bounce head, just cut a bit of white card about twice as long as the bounce head and attach it to the top of the flash with a rubber band so it overhangs. Angle the flash up at 45 degrees, and the card bounces/diffuses the light, spreading it and eliminating red-eye. Card/elastic band from work, free Smile

Looks cheap, though!

macroman  1115312 forum posts England
11 Apr 2003 - 9:01 PM

Use cat litter trays for developing dishes.
Only cost about 1.50, come in various colours, and are big enough for 12x16 prints(just).

Nyx  11533 forum posts
12 Apr 2003 - 10:02 AM

I recently made my own background for taking portraits of the kids by cutting an old quilt cover in two, pulling it tightly over an old school blackboard and stapling it on.A bit heavy and bulky but it will do for pics i take at home for now.I also made a reflector yesterday by glueing tin foil onto cardboard.

Little Jo
Little Jo e2 Member 132272 forum postsLittle Jo vcard United Kingdom
12 Apr 2003 - 10:25 AM

I read somewhere that slightly scrunched foil makes a superb reflector and gives lovely natural results.

In the past I've used a simple sheet of white paper to throw a touch of light into the shadow areas.

I've also used concealed polystyrene packing material to support macro subjects and help position the subject so it was parallel to the lens without problems. Makes controlling the depth of field much easier.

Another useful tip I picked up from a pro - use a small piece of a sweet wrapper taped to the flash gun to provide a touch of warmth to the flash illumination. It's cheap and can be readily cut to size to provide just the right amount of warmth.


macroman  1115312 forum posts England
13 Apr 2003 - 9:14 PM

Handkerchief tied over the flashgun gives a softer light as well, especially handy if you can't swivel it for bounce flash.

CJ  12 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2003 - 1:33 AM

I know what you mean when it comes to kitting out your still life set. If you buy it all new it come to a tidy amount. One thing I have used in the past and still do. Are cake boards as reflectors. They mainly come in silver and gold, but I ahve seen them in several others such as blue and green metalic. If you use the thin ones, 5mm they are much easier to handle. As for size you can get them up to 450mm diameter for about three-five pounds. Alternativly use an old one. So you really do get to eat your cake aswell!!!

14 Apr 2003 - 3:45 PM

Heres a couple of tips.
large flat sheets of polystyrene make excellent reflectors. (Not recommended in high winds though )

Also a very old tip. If using built in or pop-up flash, a piece of cigarette paper stuck over it gives a softer light.

mithrandir  11
25 Apr 2003 - 12:10 AM

Heres my lighting tip: fluorescent lights!

I can hear people screaming already...

The trick is to buy high colour rendering tubes, in my kitchen striplight I have a philips '950' tube, very close to daylight: colour temp of 5300K and a colour rendering index of 0.98 (1 is perfect) Most places don't stock these, you'll need to order one, find a specialist or mail order from somewhere like DC lighting which is where I get my esoteric lamps from, I think my 4' tube cost me about 5, not too much more than 2 odd for a cheap and nasty...
If you want a studio setup on a budget, fluorescents are one way to go, a less cheap fluoro tip is to use electronic ballasts to get rid of the flicker, mine came from a tescos refit.

neptune  1176 forum posts England
25 Apr 2003 - 1:10 AM

That sounds great. I use my kitchen a lot for photography, but colour is always a problem. Any idea if it is possible to get a regular light bulb of this type? I ripped out the striplight ages ago...

25 Apr 2003 - 9:47 AM

I know it's not really in keeping with the 'cheap' theme, but if lighting colour is a problem, have you tried colour correcting filters? A jessops 80a blue filter is about 12, and will correct colour when used with tungsten lighting, so you can use a regular desk lamp or whatever.

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