Working in a DIY photo studio

by     /    May 15, 2009   

Photography can be a very expensive artform. Each gadget and tool often comes with a hefty pricetag. And sometimes, the price is worth it. But other times, whew, it is just overkill. This is especially true with all of the random tools you need in macro photography: the clamps, light stands, reflectors, and other geegaws that help you get the shot you need. If you are not careful, you can spend all of your money on gadgets that you could easily make yourself.

my shooting table

This is why I love that my shooting table, my main workspace, is made of scrap wood and spare parts. It is just made from an extra adjustable sawhorse I had, and some scrap wood I screw to it. It allows me to quickly customize it however I want, without having to spend any extra money. (OK, a few cents for some screws maybe.)

My shooting setup. danielsroka.com

Just yesterday I got tired of the way my shooting table was setup. I had made it big, thinking I’d need a lot of space to spread out, but it proved to be too clumsy. So, I rummaged through my basement, found some small scraps of wood, et viola, a new table was born. Here’s a photo of my new table, set up with a pine cone I used to test it out. Below is the photograph I took with this setup. I think it’s working pretty well. The smaller table gives me less room to maneuver, but makes it much easier to get the camera and lights in really tight — a necessity for macro photograph.

Pinecone ©Daniel Sroka. danielsroka.com

I’m always on the look out for new ways to make handmade photo studio equipment. My backdrops are scraps of cloth or old boards. I made a lightbox by lashing together some extra metal frames and draping them with a lightweight sheet. And one of my favorites is “über-flexible lightsource” that is made from some fiber-optic stereo cables taped to my flash. Here are some other sources of DIY studio ideas:

Do you have your own favorite DIY photo tricks? Let me know!

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Comments on 'Working in a DIY photo studio'

Paul Grecian  (May 16th, 2009):

Dan, that’s one wild looking set-up! But I know you need micro-adjustments to achieve the look you are after. Awesome!

Daniel Sroka  (May 16th, 2009):

And Paul, that’s one of my more straightforward setups. There’s no reflectors, extension tubes or bellows, etc. These shots can get pretty complex!

Anna Chipman  (July 11th, 2009):

Which brand do you use for your third hand, the piece that holds your pine cone in this picture? I have a third hand but it doesn’t work well and the one you have looks like it would bend well to whatever position you put it in.

Daniel Sroka  (July 13th, 2009):

That is a hybrid of two: the clamp from a McClamp and the arms and base from a Delta Arm and Clamp setup that I modified.