Played a bit with some lighting and a DIY idea which resulted in lots of fun. Want to be in the spotlight? Well, here’s a weekend project that you can try out should you have some free time on your hands. The result will put you right in the limelight.
Gear & Props
2 x Flashes
1L Milk Carton
Super Glue (those that glue your fingers together)
Shutter Speed 1/100
Flash (soft box) TTL Metering
Flash (backdrop) Manual Power
We’re going to make a grid for our flash which will result in a nice spotlight effect for a backdrop; it will open a door for some creative photography.
Take an (empty) milk carton and mark two parallel lines, about 2-3cm apart from each other, on the box and cut along these lines. You should now have a solid square (without a base) with a 2-3cm edge.
My wife and I sat at a hotdog café and ordered a quick lunch and some cool drink, that’s where I got hold of some black straws (4-6). Cut the straws in about 12-15mm lengths. The length of the straws will determine how large and soft the spot will be (longer pieces = more focused spot). It doesn’t have to be precisely 12.015mm, it will just result in a better finished grid.
Next place the milk carton cut-out on a clear plastic bag (+/-A4 size). Now put the pieces of straw upright in the carton until the carton is completely filled with straws. Next put some superglue between the pieces (hold the carton down and move it around as you do this as some of the super glue will run down the straws and make your project stick to the surface it’s on). Let it dry, turn it around and also do the other side.
I also wrapped it in some PVC tape to make it a bit stronger, and a bit more weather proof, and added a 5cm strip on one side for securing it later on to the flash head. You should end up with something like this:
Now fix the grid to your flash with some tape and mount the flash about 1.5 to 2.5 meters from a white wall and, fire! You will have to play around with camera settings to create the ideal light spot. If all goes well it should look something like this:
You can now position your subject of choice about 3 to 4 meters from a wall. Mount a soft box at a 45 degree angle above the subject. A few white A4 papers was taped together to form a reflector on one side of the subject, to create some fill light, and alter the evenly lit scene a bit and create some rim reflection.
Something very important is to photograph in a dark room (curtains closed) and make sure no light from the soft box spills onto the backdrop (wall), ensuring the background stays black with only the spot light lighting it up. Use some black or dark cloth around the sides of the soft box to keep the spilling at bay.
The result after some very basic processing, with the threads removed:
The lighting set up can be further improved and the image can do with a bit of PS work, but the basic setup should open up creative possibilities. Hope it puts your subjects in the limelight.