Studio photography on the (very) cheap

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.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

9 thoughts on “Studio photography on the (very) cheap”

  1. 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.

  2. Antonia,

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. Tristan,

    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.

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

    It shows a deep love of the female form.

  6. 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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