Studio photography on the (very) cheap


in Geek stuff, Photography

Antonia Mansel-Long, bounce-lit

Something useful learned tonight: using standard height white ceilings, a glossy white St. Anthony’s College laundry card, and the on-camera flash on a Canon Powershot A510 digital camera, you can pull off some tolerable bounce-lit flash photography. A hand-held mirror is even better, though I would recommend using a relatively matte ceiling, with that arrangement. The flash is only really adequate for this role in the wide-angle range, due to a low power rating, but this does make it dramatically less unflattering, through the dual benefit of eliminating white patches that have been completely overexposed and removing the unnatural shadows that arise from a flash too close to the lens.

Attempt to make diffusers out of Sainsbury’s receipts, onion-skin paper, and other miscellaneous translucent materials were less successful. I look forward to eventually having a proper off-camera flash with diffuser, not to mention the chance to do some real studio work. If only this pesky thesis wasn’t getting in the way of various hobbies.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan February 20, 2007 at 4:07 am

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, see the Electronic Flash section of Philip Greenspun’s tutorial.

I don’t want to link one of my own examples of a photo utterly ruined by the on camera flash, so I will link one of his.

Antonia February 20, 2007 at 11:37 am

Trying to work out why the tshirt appears to be made of towelling/fleece around the neckline unless you’re looking at the larger format.

Milan February 20, 2007 at 12:53 pm


The large version of the image is what is uploaded into WordPress. The thumbnail size is generated by internal processes that are not always perfect. When the result is very obviously undesirable, I will make the thumbnail myself in Photoshop, then upload both sizes using FTP.

tristan laing February 22, 2007 at 4:03 am

this is a wonderful photograph. But it’s the honesty in the expression that makes the difference, as is confirmed by your many excellent black and white shots made with a simple direct flash overwhelming the ambient light.

Milan February 22, 2007 at 11:59 am


This was the best among the 56 I took during this session. Admittedly, a lot of those were failed attempts at making ad hoc diffusers, or occasions where we were playing with very strong colour casts.

Cate February 22, 2007 at 9:56 pm

For some stupid random reason, this photo convinces me you aren’t gay.

It shows a deep love of the female form.

Anonymous March 16, 2007 at 10:03 pm

That last comment is rather odd, no?

Milan March 16, 2007 at 10:13 pm

I thought so.

I am not sure why anyone would get that impression of me, nor why this photo would change their thinking.

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