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Archive 2016 · How to compete with expensive kit...
  
 
Numfar
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · How to compete with expensive kit...


Congratulations to Numfar for winning Feature Thread of the Week with 3 votes - View Previous Winners


I was one of the instructors at a photo workshop, and I found out that the session before mine would be demonstrating some ultra-high end kit. On demo was a full Broncolour strobe set and a Phase One digital back. All told, it was about $125,000 worth of studio kit being demo'd, shooting a lovely model in a beautiful (and pricey) dress.....

So when putting together my session, I thought I'd show what you can do for less than that cost.

As attendees came over from the previous session to mine, I pulled out a few elinchrom's, a sun bounce reflector and my D800, a studio backdrop and some reflector gear, had the model change into a local designer's dress and made a photo.

Everyone thought my point was what could be done for 10 per cent of what we'd just seen earlier.

But I wasn't done....

Then when everyone was not-entirely impressed, but playing along nicely, I decided to show what could be done for 0.1% of that cost...

I moved out my studio lights, put down my D800 , and got rid of the studio backdrop and sun bounce reflector

In their place I used a $12 clamp light from Walmart with a regular 100w bulb; my second light (providing rim and background light) was a cheap 2nd hand table lamp I bought from a local consignment store for $5.99 (the lampshade provides diffusion and a nice warm tone. Replacing my studio backdrop was a $9 shower curtain I got from Target on sale, and instead of the sun bounce reflector, I used the white side of an empty XL pizza box.

And I sent my model back into the change room to put on something we'd pre-arranged. She came back out wrapped in a table-runner I'd bought for $2 from the same consignment store as the lamp

I think everyone thought I was nuts.

I showed everyone the stuff - and this is the stuff I used to use back in the day when I first started out doing work on the road - whatever I could get my hands on - totally improvised.

But could you make even a passable photo with this collection of near-garbage?

Shooting tethered, I then turned around and made this image.

Total cost of the set:

Main Light - $12
Background & Rim light $5.99
Shower Curtan: $9
Wardrobe (table runner): $2
Reflector: Free (with last night's dinner)

TOTAL: $28.99






Edited on Jan 22, 2016 at 09:34 PM · View previous versions



Jan 22, 2016 at 06:23 PM
stevez32
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · How to compete with expensive kit...


Cool. Any behind the scenes shots?


Jan 22, 2016 at 06:26 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · How to compete with expensive kit...


The coup de grace would have been if you shot it with your iPhone.

That's a lovely image. $1.25k of gear is worthless if you can't see the light.

Excellent!



Jan 22, 2016 at 06:50 PM
fstop212
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · How to compete with expensive kit...


this isproof that it's not the equipment, it's the photographer.
Fantastic shot.



Jan 22, 2016 at 08:46 PM
JR Photo
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · How to compete with expensive kit...


- - - and then there have been times I have pulled stuff out of a dumpster. Almost everything but the model.

J. R.

great demo and shot



Jan 22, 2016 at 09:10 PM
Frock
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · How to compete with expensive kit...


Brilliant


Jan 23, 2016 at 01:02 AM
pbraymond
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · How to compete with expensive kit...


Nice! Now if only I had gear like yours I could pull of the same thing too ;-)


Jan 23, 2016 at 02:30 AM
NCAndy
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · How to compete with expensive kit...


Excellent. Thanks for posting.


Jan 23, 2016 at 05:06 AM
elliotkramer
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · How to compete with expensive kit...


Beautiful!


Jan 23, 2016 at 05:19 AM
Charles Loy
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · How to compete with expensive kit...


Beautiful indeed. Thanks for sharing


Jan 23, 2016 at 04:11 PM
 

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ucphotog
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · How to compete with expensive kit...


Great experiment / demonstration! I love the table runner. That's something I'll have to keep in mind.

A question: Did you have to compromise on the ISO because of using the lights? Or was it a matter of getting the lights close? Among other reasons I have come to love strobes: 1) lots of light (too much sometimes) so that I can stick to base ISO and 2) and I can shoot fast, avoiding most motion blur. I'm just wondering what, if any, compromises you ended up with do to this choice of lighting.

Thanks for sharing.

(P. S. Sorry. I'm not taking my strobes back. )

Dave



Jan 23, 2016 at 08:35 PM
Numfar
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · How to compete with expensive kit...


ucphotog wrote:
Great experiment / demonstration! I love the table runner. That's something I'll have to keep in mind.

A question: Did you have to compromise on the ISO because of using the lights? Or was it a matter of getting the lights close? Among other reasons I have come to love strobes: 1) lots of light (too much sometimes) so that I can stick to base ISO and 2) and I can shoot fast, avoiding most motion blur. I'm just wondering what, if any, compromises you ended up with do to this choice of lighting.

Thanks for sharing.

(P. S. Sorry.
...Show more


Honestly, with any half decent dSLR made in the past 3-4 years, I don't think there's much 'compromise' involve din going to ISO800 (or ISO 3200 on some of the new cameras).

Sticking to base ISO (iso35) Is something I do on medium format. Moving to 35mm, I think obsessing about noise is only really useful to landscape photographers, because they have that luxury. For everyone else, story trumps the fine grain low-level, non intrusive noise we may perceive in shots.

I mean, look at that shot above... is there noise? Yes. Is that even a bad thing, or does the modern noise character actually look fairly film-like - making the image at worst 'different', and at best, 'better' than zero-noise images? Some people steadfastly argue for the organic nature of film grain. I'm not one of them, but I do, on occasion, prefer noise in my images (sacrilegious, i know!).

I'm not taking my strobes back either. But the skill of spoofing a professionally lit shot from $35 and items at hand is invaluable when you are out without strobes and you still have 3 minutes to nick a shot of someone a) famous, b) gorgeous, c) awesome, d)all three...



Jan 23, 2016 at 10:25 PM
Bryston3bsst
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · How to compete with expensive kit...


I absolutely love this. I have been of this school of thought for many years....that is, it's not the camera (equipment) that takes a great picture.

Most excellent job, sir.



Jan 24, 2016 at 01:30 PM
jacquesvroom
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · How to compete with expensive kit...


Nice work!
Thank you for the story!!



Jan 24, 2016 at 09:16 PM
ucphotog
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · How to compete with expensive kit...


Thanks for the reply.

All photography requires some compromises. Studio photography generally requires the compromise of giving away lots of money.

I think I'm overly sensitive to the issue of noise as I used a Nikon D300s for some years. There were noise issue on that camera at base ISO...

Thanks, again.

Dave



Jan 24, 2016 at 09:43 PM
Numfar
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · How to compete with expensive kit...


ucphotog wrote:
Thanks for the reply.

All photography requires some compromises. Studio photography generally requires the compromise of giving away lots of money.

I think I'm overly sensitive to the issue of noise as I used a Nikon D300s for some years. There were noise issue on that camera at base ISO...

Thanks, again.

Dave


UGH - yeah, I totally get that from D300s... Have you tried the 750 or 810 yet? World's apart.



Jan 25, 2016 at 12:08 AM
Squirrely Eyed
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · How to compete with expensive kit...


I've become a rather big fan of your work, though I've not been posting comments.

Thanks for the background/setup and taking us through this journey. I completely agree with "the message" and am always happy to see it presented in detail.

And for folks like me -- who aren't that good -- better gear helps cover up at least some of our sins.



Jan 25, 2016 at 08:47 PM
Numfar
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · How to compete with expensive kit...


Had a student take some behind the scenes shots of the presentation - and here you see my main light (the student's clamp light), my rim light (and background light - the $5.99 table lamp), the pizza box reflector and the cheapy shower curtain that is my background.

















Jan 25, 2016 at 09:38 PM
Todd
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · How to compete with expensive kit...


That looks really good to me. I like your low expense because it's so much better than paying for all that grossly overpriced equipment anyway right? Good job. I am impressed.


Jan 25, 2016 at 10:01 PM
gene2632
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · How to compete with expensive kit...


The people who attended your session should really thank you. So should the rest of the people here. Sharing how to do great work on a budget is a great thing. Thanks for sharing it all.


Jan 25, 2016 at 10:34 PM
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