Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Setting up Your Studio

As photographers, one of the keys to our success is the right equipment. When we say the word "studio" this means the equipment you need...not necessarily a location. So lets look at some of the items you will need to set up a working studio-

July 25th
rt 2- Backdrops-

The Green Screen

When I first started taking photos, I didn't have a full grasp on how important the background scenery was. I have a good knowledge of Photo Shop, so I thought, "why worry, if there is something there I don't like, I can just take care of it in post production".

While this is theoretically true, it is very time consuming and often not exact, especially when you are dealing with subjects such as fur or hair. It is much easier to control the background in the first place.

For instance, say you would like to take a picture of your dog and make it look like he is on the top of a mountain. We all know that you can do that in Photo Shop without much effort. However, what if the original picture of your dog has him standing on the couch in your living room? Now you have to get rid of all that scenery! It will take some skill and time to extract the image of your dog.

If you start with a clean shot of your dog with a green screen as a background, you can easily place him on the mountaintop picture. This process opens an entire new world for creative post production work.

How this works:
The subject is photographed against a background consisting of a single color or a relatively narrow range of colors, (usually green)
because these colors are considered to be the furthest away from skin tone. If you are shooting other subjects, choose a different color, staying with this same theory.

The portions of the photograph which match the preselected color are replaced by the alternate background photo. This process is commonly known as "keying"
, "keying out" or simply a "key" ".

Having a green screen in your studio kit will be one of the pieces of equipment that will allow you to have creative fun. Next time, in part 3, we will continue to talk about background equipment and different choices of screens.

Part 1- the camera

You will eventually want to have a primary camera that is a professional model, and at least one secondary camera body that is compatible with your lenses. The secondary camera can be used for several things.

  • It can be used as a back-up in case there is a malfunction with your primary camera.
  • It can also be used as a quick grab- lets say for instance you are shooting telephoto with your primary. All of the sudden, there is an opportunity to shoot something unexpected close up. If you have your macro lens mounted to your secondary camera you would be ready. This is especially true in nature. We will often have our camera attached to a tripod as we shoot scenery, and all of the sudden a butterfly lands on a leaf...the lighting is beautiful...but by the time we take the camera off the tripod...put the macro lens on...the moment has passed.
  • Another benefit of having a secondary camera- it's a good tool for interns or assistants. If you are beginning to work pro, you may want to bring on an assistant or intern. Often in the beginning of a young photographers career, having pro equipment isn't in the budget. Therefore, having a secondary camera that your assistant or intern can use is a great way to get them started in the business. Interns are doing the work for experience only, but your assistant would expect a salary. Throwing in the benefit of equipment may sweeten the deal.

Our next post on STUDIO- we will discuss backdrop equipment.