I’ve decided to use Phoenix Rising’s development process as examples for my book (yes, I’m still working on it), which means taking photos of the work in progress. Which means I need to take publishable-quality photos at home. So I’m setting up a mini photography studio in the garage, next to Emmy.
To call this a studio is a bit generous. The space is incredibly cramped, maybe four feet wide by ten feet long. On one side of the corridor is Emmy; on the other side is the garage door. At the end is a backdrop stand with a white “muslin” backdrop (I think it’s actually a polyester fabric), and crammed in at either side are two light stands. The setup looks like this:
I’ve spent the last few days learning far more than I ever wanted to know about cameras – aperture sizes, exposure times, lenses, and camera controls. I’ve also been playing with lighting, gray cards (used to adjust the color balance), etc. I still need more lighting – a second lighting kit is due to arrive today – and need to figure out how to find space for it (the hard part). But the photos are improving.
Here’s the original photo I took of the muslin, taken as a hand-held snapshot with flash a couple days ago:
No special lighting, harsh shadow around the right edge of the photo, no backdrop. Also slightly blurry.
Here’s the second photo, after several days of fiddling, taken with my DSLR camera (on tripod). Also slightly blurry, but the light is a lot more even. I have one light on the background (to eliminate shadows) and one on the dress form. The lighting is still not ideal, though – the bottom left of the muslin is still in shadow.
And here’s a photo taken with Mike’s mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, which has a much better lens than my DSLR camera. For this one we used manual focusing, which is much more practical on his camera than mine. (With mine, you have to look through a tiny viewfinder to see what will be photographed – and at that size and that distance, it’s impossible to tell whether something is in sharp focus. Mike’s camera has a large LED display which automatically zooms in to let you check the focus.)
This came out significantly better than the two previous photos:
Obviously the lighting needs to be fixed, but the image itself is much sharper and brighter than before. (The backdrop was in the washer (to remove wrinkles) during the shot.) I’m not sure whether to attribute that to the better lens or the manual focusing, but it’s definitely improved.
Next step? The second lighting kit will arrive today, so I can tweak the lighting. I also need to master the settings on Mike’s camera. And Lieven (my critique partner, who is a top-notich photographer) will be coming by in the next few days to help me fine-tune things.
Meanwhile, as soon as I get a decent photo of this muslin, I’m going to start making changes. Hopefully I can do that tomorrow, as I’m running up to see Sharon on Sunday and would like to make more progress before showing it to her.
Finally, here are our in-house athletes again, showing off their second Olympic event: synchronized yawning. (Photo credit for this one goes to Mike.)