Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Tip

For today's Friday Tip, we'll cover some basic lighting for photo tents. You don't need fancy lights - mine are clamp lamps from the hardware store with 60 watt daylight bulbs in some, and everyday 100 watt bulbs in others. By pointing the bulbs through the white photo tent material, the light is softened and bounces around the inside of the box, creating a pleasing light without harsh shadows.

You can see in the diagram above how I have mine set up. The overhead lights are aimed to go down right at the horse or just in front of it. The lower lamps (approximately level with the horse) are situated a little farther forward (closer to the camera) and shine back, still through the tent material, towards the horse and back of the box. I never have them all turned on; two or three are plenty to light the horse without overwhelming it. Sometimes to further soften the lower light, I adjust down it so that just half shines through the tent, with the other half getting cut off under the table. Experiment with this setup to see how the photo changes with different lighting configurations!

This photo was taken with lights coming from different angles on both sides, and a little stronger on the right side. It is very soft with no strong shadows. This sort of setup is ideal for getting photos that are illustrative of what the horse actually looks like.

Or you can go arty and get a picture with a lot of drama by only lighting from one side. Experiment with closing drapes or turning the lights in the room off to reduce uncontrolled light, or changing the distance of your lights from the tent. There isn't a wrong way to do it when you are going for a more interesting lighting look, so just go for it, and see what happens!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the photo tips! What kind of material is the photo tent made of?

Mel Miller said...

The tent material is just a cheap muslin. Anything that is white and that will filter the light without blocking it too much will work; you can even recycle old sheets!