I’d like to discuss how you can create a simple and affordable DIY studio.

Let’s go through the equipment list for the shoot today. Let’s start with the tripod. This is a  tripod from Manfrotto. It’s from their famous 055 series. I had this for about 30 years. It still works like new. The great thing about Manfrotto is if some of their equipment breaks, they sell spare parts. They have also got a really fantastic customer service. Then the tripod head is a so-called Gearheads. It’s the Manfrotto 410. What I like about gearheads is particularly if you shoot still life is that you can control the camera angle in very small increments. It also has a quick release for fast movements. 

If you’d like to shoot models or subjects, then you might want to consider a ball head. T

he next one would be a stand. This one here is from Calumet.

Calumet produces a very interesting range of mainly Manfrotto clones that come at a price bracket that’s about 50 to 65 percent of the Manfrotto equipment.

Then we’ve got a flash bracket. This one here is from Neewer.  And you can see that I can apply the flash itself, speedlight, and then I can adjust the angle just like this.

Then some type of some type of light shaper. Again, this piece is from a company called Neewer. It’s an 80 x 80 centimetre soft box that I can apply directly to the bracket.  It is gonna fits into a medium sized camera back which is fantastic. Then the flash equipment itself is from a company called Yongnuo.  A lot of my photographer friends, now use Yongnuo equipment as it is incredibly affordable.

It’s about 10 to 15 percent of what you would pay for this type of equipment from Canon on Nikon. And this one here is Yongnuo 560 series. And this one here is the transmitter that allows remote control the speed light in terms of power output, but also zoom settings, etc. Then I strongly suggest that you should shoot tethered. 

Tethered shooting means that you link your camera using a USB cable, link directly to your laptop and then you would shoot into an application like Lightroom or Capture One. And this particular cable is from a company called Tether Tools. You’re going to find this on most professional photoshoots. And I think it’s particularly useful because it’s orange. These cables can be a notorious tripping hazard. Then some form of a bracket is important.

That means that you protect the USB port from the camera. And some cameras, manufacturers create and produce those brackets here. This one’s from Nikon. But you can also buy a tool called a “jerk stopper” that is going to stabilize the USB port. And last but not least, a good roll of gaffer tape. I like to use the one with a matt surface. The one with the shiny surface can sometimes leave a really nasty residue on all your equipment.

OK. So to show you how all this equipment looks like in action, I created a very simple still life setup. So the camera’s mounted to the tripod using the gearhead. Then it is linked to this laptop here using the USB tethering cable.  We’re going to shoot into capture one. Then the speed light is mounted to the stands using the brackets. And it is triggered by the transmitter that’s mounted to the camera. What you can see here is a very soft light, and we have achieved this by pointing the speed light towards a corner of the room while zooming out.

So what this achieves is it creates a large light hot spot in the corner of the room. There’s a very simple rule and lighting that is that says “The larger the light source, the softer the lights.” So because the area that is lit is relatively large and that’s the reason why we get very soft light. Now, the next thing I want to show you is how to use the softbox. 

OK. And to make those images comparable, I need to adjust the light intensity.

You can see that the light now looks more pronounced because the light source itself is smaller and therefore we have more accentuated shadows. Now, if I take the Soft-box off, then the light is  going to become much harder because of the size of the light shape. This is going to be much smaller and therefore it’s going to create a much harder lighting.

OK, you can see that we have much harder, much more pronounced shadows, because the light source itself is small and we’re still working with the reflector in the zoomed out in the 24 millimetre position. Now, when I zoom in to 105, we are going to create a very distinctive light hotspot.

You can see very distinctive vignetting to the top and to the bottom of the frame. That’s because I zoomed in. So that means that the speed light is only going to create a small, very pronounced light hotspot. But you can see here is that it us not about your budget. It’s not about the amount of space that you have, it is all about controlling the equipment. It is important to buy the right equipment that you need for whatever you have in mind for your projects and then to control it.