When you experiment with materials, even just play with them, their properties expand your outlet for creative expression. This doesn’t happen when you simply watch them on TV, you need to really use them to learn their characteristics, how they bend, stretch, stick, reflect, and sound. Such is the case with cardboard, spray adhesive, tinfoil and tape. I’ve used these ingredients to build several DIY ringlights and Tent Soft boxes.
So here is new twist, a light mod that sprays light out like a star against a wall. The basic construction is a strip of card with slits in it wrapped in a ‘U’ shape surrounding a toilet roll coated in foil with a flash mount made of popsicle sticks. The band-aid wrapper is the result of using my finger to guide the leatherman saw blade (not all experiments are a success).
Web based napkin / post it
track your links
Store bought equivalent cost +$500
Last time i made a softbox out of tinfoil and card board, the result worked (and got front page of digg.com) but it was a little small for anything larger than a face so i wanted a bigger one, but these things don’t scale as well as expected (think a second about a 5′ cardboard box.
My kids have this tent from Ikea which is very basic since it’s not meant for sleeping in, but perfect for re-purposing! I didn’t have the heart to take away their tent so i splurged on a new one for less than 10 bucks. They got really excited when they saw me getting interested in their toy, so we played a bit while i built my plan of attack.
The execution was simple, i cut out the blue stuff from the bottom and sewed it over the ‘door’ way on the side. Then i turned it inside out and used spay adhesive to glue down the mylar foil (from ax-man surplus). Then i placed 4 bits of velcroe to the edges and placed the shower curtain liner over it to trim to size. The bracket i made is a bit flimsy but consists of some squares clamping the cross of the tent poles and a ball bunjee to hold the flash in place.
Here i am cutting up the sheets of mylar to be spay adhered to the inside of the tent, while wathing some videos. Libby is playing classic gameboy Tetris on a gameboy that has a backlight. The cats being lazy.
So i distilled the the elements of my first
DIY ring flash (cardboard and duct tape hobo version) into a more compact version that not only gets the cool catch light but also does the shadow halo effect (the large ring flash didn’t do the shadow because the light source was larger than the subject, making the shadow hidden behind the subject). I also removed the diffuser material which was unnecessary in the first place and was only diminishing efficiency. This version is very similar to other models with one major distinction, this has a non-concentric construction which is responsible for a perfectly uniform light distribution without the use of diffusers or fancy prisms, just mylar, plastic, tape, and glue. Here is the construction sequence:
First I cut a strip from a sheet of acrylic,
i first cut with a scissor but found it easier to just score with a blade then snap
from behind. The thickness should be the thickness of the flash head that you’ll
be using. Cut a similar strip of foil then use spay adhesive to join the two.
3. Now place it on a sheet of foam core
and draw a circle thats the diameter of you ring plus 7.5″ that way if you have
the inner ring 1.5″ from one side it will be 4x that distance from the other side.
This is non-concentric placement of the inner ring is what makes this ringflash
give a uniform light distribution, that sounds good to me.
4. Cut out the panels and cover with
foil. Then cut a hole for the ring an a larger hole in the other panel that .5″
larger. 5. Cut out another strip as in the first step but make this one long enough
to wrap around the outside. Then tape it all together.
Get the flash off the camera, even a ring flash!!!
The Ring Flash / Ring Light is a unique light source since it gives you a hard light but because the light comes from all around the lens the only shadow is a darkened halo around a subject, but the subject it self is uniformly lit.
My favorite effect of a ring light is the ring in the eyes and the topographical effect of the highlights it creates on the face, normally a head on light source would flatten a face but the ring flash makes highlights on relief areas of the subject. I fell in love with the effect in this image by Janosch Simon (this images is SFW but his full portfolio may not be if you live in the US)
Creating a ring flash can either be done with expensive flash units that are actually capable of a circular arc in a circular flash tube/bulb, or by modifying the straight round beam of a hot shoe flash unit.
There seems to be two ways to go about it, diffuse the source then mask it, or use precise reflections to redirect the beam. The second would result in higher efficiency and a higher “focal length” of the flash since there would be more direct light.
In order to control the size of the ring on the face you have to change the distance of the ring or the size of the ring. Having it off camera would allow you to take telephoto shots and still have large ring in the eyes ( a telephoto shot with a tradition on camera ring flash would be far away enough to reduce the reflection of the flash in the eyes to a bright dot)
What i did was adapt this great design by The Feral Photographer and made the following changes.
1:made the circles NOT concentric, the light escaping from the diffuser causes the light level to get dimmer at the end opposite the flash, similar to , here it comes, the inverse square law. So i sized and located the inner circle to so that the distance at the far end was four times less than the flash end this would result in a uniform distribution of the light.
2: Made it larger, this means that i could use longer zoom.
2 sheets of cardboard
Diffuser material is a Target plastic bag
So Alexander Johnson took my image and had is skilled way with it creating this image:Post Processing by Alexander Johnson – Thanks!
So i don’t need to convince you on the convenience of a wireless mouse, but i may need to sell you on using a laptop mouse for a desktop.
The main reason: Size, they are small so you can move the mouse with your fingers rather than moving your whole hand+wrist.
The problem: Range, they usually use a USB dongle that you’d plug into your desktop, which in many cases is under the desk stretching the range to the usual 3ft claim (2ft in reality). I was frustrated by the number of times I’d have to click to double click, and lack of responsiveness.
The Solution: Bigger Tail, antennas inside the mouse are effectively shielded by your hand which absorbs a lot of the EMF and almost creates a Faraday cage around the mouse. Adding an external antennae will give the transmitter a bigger antennae and prevent the signal from being shielded so much. Since the deal is a one way communication (from mouse to dongle) we will see results even though we’re only extending the one antennae. (when trying to increase range on two way communications you have to do both because increasing the size of the receiving antennae can also increase the noise being picked up)
A great feature of this mouse is that the mouse and dongle can become one for transportation, which means that you won’t lose the dongle, and the little protruding button get depressed when you fit the dongle into the bottom of the mouse, which turns it off. For once M$oft got it right!
So to upgrade the range on this little rodent, you’ll need a screwdriver (i used the one on my cute pink leather man ) and a twisty tie, like ones that come with any gadget with wires.
First pick of the pads off with whatever then unscrew all 4 screws.
Near the front there is a stiff wire, unsheathe some of the twisty tie and twist it on there. Make a little notch for the wire to escape when you close the mouse up. Keep the notch small so that it holds the twisty in place.
Then close it up, thats it your done! The range should now be about 3x so around 9ft though i was able to double click from much farther when line of sight with the dongle. Polar antennae, like this one, have a doughnut radiation pattern, which means that the signal is strongest on the sides and almost zero on axis, so don’t point the antenna at the dongle, rather have it parallel.
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I spent about a grand on my camera equipment (body, lenses) and forgot to save anything for the lighting equipment, doh!
A camera is only as good as the light that comes into it, cameras capture light and make a mess when they try to amplify the dark. When I made the move from a point-and-shoot to a SLR I figured I’d get a 50mm lens because it was the cheapest lens that opened up to f/1.8, and i wanted to be able to take pictures in the living room (of my kids) without a flash. Jump to 6 months later I realize that the light in my living room is hit or miss and at f/1.8 the plane of focus is so thin that I’d have to immobilize the kids to put that plane in the right place.
The crux of the problem is that even tightened down to f2.8 a full face is unlikely to be all in focus until about f8 on a 50mm or f5 on a 24mm which means I need a flash. I used a bounce flash (old school flash aimed at the ceiling or wall) and loved the soft light or occasional color cast from the paint on the wall, but the shadows made dark wells under the eyes. I need a movable light source with a large souce dimension to face size ratio. A nice big octobox soft box which should eliminate shadows from the area that it covers, but, I spent all of my money on the SLR and lenses.
Cardboard box, tin foil, tape, knife, wireless flash kit,
I got the wireless flash from Ebay with two receivers ($20) which i use with old flashes from my wifes old SLR setup. The trigger just attaches to the camera hot shoe and the receivers are like little hot shoes them selves.
I upgraded the antenna to extend the range and reliability.
For the softbox i got an office max cardboard box and some reynolds tinfoil. i used the size of the box as a template and cut some pieces. Remember to cut a mirror image because they are not Chiral, so two of each hand (lateral inversion). Also make them so that the sum of two wider ends equals the size the to opening of the box, measure this by placing to strips next to each other and marking where they overlap:
It is much easier to score then cut with scissors than knife. I also taped all the sides to prevent the foil from tearing, it made it much more durable. When tapping two pieces together the tape can electro statically attract the foil which can muck things up, so i found it easier to pre-tape with small pieces of tape before applying wider tape.
Look kind of like a NASA heat shield.
This is at 300mm F22 1/125sec, with a Nikon D70s. Its amazing how much more detail comes out of the shot with soft light.
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