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Any help greatly appreciated

tinkerb 6 4 United Kingdom
26 Aug 2010 8:03PM
Hi I want to start doing portrait photography as i love taking pictures of people. But i dont know where to begin i have a Nikon D40 with a 18* 55 and a 55*200 lenses. Im on a budget and not sure how to go about making a home studio i have a small house so needs to be put away ive looked a jessops home studio lighting for under 200 any good ?? but also im not sure what to do for background eaither. Any advice would be great Grin

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timbo 14 595 United Kingdom
26 Aug 2010 8:19PM
for starters forget about buying lights. Take portraits outside against interesting backgrounds - rusty tin huts or graffiti coated walls etc. Look at how the light falls on your subject, try to get it coming in from the side (you will have to wait for certain times of the day). If you must do it indoors then try using a window to light your subject. Light is light and you don't need to splash out straight away on expensive gear.
tinkerb 6 4 United Kingdom
26 Aug 2010 8:32PM
thanks for the advice that has given me some great ideas
KathyW 13 1.8k 12 Norfolk Island
26 Aug 2010 8:42PM
A reflector is a cheap way to make the best use of sunlight. Use it to bounce light back on to your subject when they are backlit, or to light up shadowy areas and throw a little light up from below if the main light is coming from above. Tin foil or a sheet of silvery/gold wrapping paper, or simply a large piece of white card is even cheaper.
Geraint 10 715 34 Wales
26 Aug 2010 8:52PM
Good suggestions so far. I learned by using window light. Buy one of those 5-in-1 reflectors on Ebay - they only cost about 10. See how the light defines a person's features and how bouncing light back onto the shadow side affects this. WIndow light is beautiful light and can be very flattering.
col.campbell 13 1.1k 4 United Kingdom
26 Aug 2010 9:29PM
More ideas without the need to shell out.

If you want soft, diffused light, try net curtain or tracing paper/ similar (yet to try it myself but those are tips I picked up somewhere along the line, probably from someone on this site).

For variety, also experiment with 'unusual' (for portrait) focal lengths. Try the 18-55 at 18 and photograph from a high or low viewpoint, close to the subject.
tinkerb 6 4 United Kingdom
27 Aug 2010 7:52AM
thanks for the great advice will def give them go Smile
Sooty_1 7 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
27 Aug 2010 8:56AM
If the weather is too bad to go out, you can experiment with just table lamps - preferably something like an anglepoise lamp. They will generally have low power bulbs in, but you do not need expensive equipment to start.

Another cheap alternative are those halogen lights from places like B&Q, they cost under 10 each, and you can modify the light with reflectors (card sheets, foil - try scrunching it up first then opening it out again and sticking it to card), brollies (pale coloured, point the light into the brolly and away from the subject to allow only reflected light on to the subject), diffusers (net curtain, tissue paper etc)......

You can even modify the light falling on the subject by moving the lights closer or further away.

For a backdrop, why not just use an ironed sheet hung over your existing curtain rail? (close the curtains first!).
You can also get a couple of yards of material and spray paint splatter patterns of your colour choice. Using heavier fabric, you can paint both sides differently.

There is no reason why people need to rush out and spend big cash on setting up a studio, when it can be done for less than 20.

The only limit is your inventiveness!
gaelldew 10 353 United Kingdom
27 Aug 2010 2:00PM
One idea but means shelling out but under 100, get a Nikon 50mm prime great for portraits.
27 Aug 2010 2:41PM
I would agree with the prime 50mm lens. Since I got one for my basic Sony a200 the photos of people are so much sharper, even in low light.
tinkerb 6 4 United Kingdom
27 Aug 2010 4:39PM
thanks for the advice on the lense we were looking at another lenses but there so many hard to know what to get. but def look into that lense
i am also asking family members to be my guinea pig's for the experince from what i read some of the photography courses are not worth doing but building up experience and portfoil is a better way ?
Sooty_1 7 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
27 Aug 2010 10:26PM
I would suggest learning about light before rushing out and buying a new lens.

Use your short zoom at 55mm and work with that. True, it isn't a killer lens, but when the sharpness of the picture becomes the main issue rather than the lighting, posing or composition, then worry about the glass. The only advantage would be the wider aperture, but you can push the ISO up a couple of stops to compensate for this.

You don't need to spend money to take photographs as you already have what you need.
Look at famous photographers' pictures and try to work out how they are lit, how they are posed and why you like/dislike them. Think about how you would like your pictures to look and play around with lighting, but make notes as you go.

Always focus on the eyes, and the rest will follow.
clicknimagine 7 221 88
28 Aug 2010 8:56AM
start with a 50 mm f/1.8 prime lens not much costly but the result is great, the advice of reflector for window light portrait is also a great combination...
arhb 10 3.3k 68 United Kingdom
28 Aug 2010 9:24AM
I would say that the lens you have already will do the job just fine - no need for another 50mm just yet...
The idea of a 5-in-1 reflector system is great - very useful.
Once you get to a point when you want to use flash, there is a very cheap(30), but reliable brand called Yongnuo on ebay.
They make cheap flash guns for most makes of camera. They also make a cheap radio flash trigger called RF-602, which allows you to fire your flash gun away from the camera, giving you lighting that is more flattering to your subject.
Graflex 14 488 United Kingdom
29 Aug 2010 9:08AM
All sound advice,Tinkerb.
The word cheap always came into my vocabulary,what you can throw into a camera bag with a couple of spare batteries is the perfect way to conduct photography.
Too much time is spent contemplating ones navel-or in otherwords pouring over equipment,go for the jugular,learn the techniques and lighting.

Show me a good portrait and frankly I couldn't care less what camera it was taken on,could cost 10 quid out of the junk shop all I care.

Go for it..get the practice in...

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