Thursday, August 23, 2012

ch-ch-ch-changes . . . .

I'm rearranging my studio, and changing the way I've taken my photographs for many years. I've been using an improvised set-up for a long time now; I built a very small light tent out of an old pop-up clothes hamper and some worn sheets, and I've used a combination of sunlight from the breakfast table window, my Ott light, daylight bulbs in the ceiling fixtures, and a halogen shop lamp. I have to set it all up when I want to take pictures, and I have to break it all down before we can eat our next meal.

In this photo, you are looking at the future home of my dedicated photography station; I am officially taking the plunge. Last night, I ordered lights and a new tent; a new, larger, non-improvised tent, and a set of four very bright, daylight lights, that move around on a frame that goes up the sides and over the top of the tent, so that I can adjust them to get the exact lighting effects I want.

I also ordered two gradient backdrops, and this morning I picked up a nice table to bring it all up to a comfortable height. I briefly considered putting it all on the floor and taking pictures lying down, but then I thought not. If I'm going to increase my level of professionalism, I can't do it  while crawling around my belly. Of course, only the table and my camera are here right now; I had to mail order the rest of it. I am hoping that it will all arrive sometime next week.

I'e always started my photo shoots by taking a dozen (or more!) trial shots with my best guesses as to what today's light temperature and exposure might be; then I compare the results, choose the best ones, and shoot quickly, hoping that I can finish before the light changes. I haven't succeeded in that yet; light changes very quickly when one side is coming through an east window. It also makes it challenging to get a balanced photograph; no matter what I do, my photos are never evenly lit.

Once I've chosen the photos I like, I Photoshop like crazy to fix the color temperature and the exposure, as it has invariably changed while I was shooting. My new station is away form the window; and with all daylight bulbs and no direct light form the window, I should be able to set the light temperature and exposure and have them stay consistent for the entire shoot. Actually, I'm even hoping they'll stay consistent from one day to the next. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

I know, I know - I'm picky about my photos. But I'm not the only one who wants me to take better photos; lately, it seems, no one wants a Photoshopped photo. I'm better at Photoshop than I am at photography, and that needs to change. I need photos that come out of the camera with true colors, bright whites, proper exposure and sharp focus. And I want those dandy grey graduated backgrounds, without resorting to Photoshop, too.

Just as soon as the rest of the pieces have been delivered and are in place, I'm going to start changing. This is just the first step, but it's a big one for me!

1 comment:

Marsha Wiest-Hines said...

Ambitious! Sounds like an excellent solution to the constant battle of photography!