So, while my plan was to use this as a commission page until I get my actual commission site up, I’ve decided to start in on the blagging thing now. Mostly because I can’t do pictures in my dA journal, and the plan was always to eventually convert this to cosplay and sewing/crafting related blogs.

This first blog has to do with a subject on which I am no expert, but one that is important to many cosplayers.

Photo lighting.

Unless you happen to be a professional or semi-pro photographer on the side, I bet you’ve tried to take some quick pictures of yourself or friends and had no option but to use natural or available lighting. This is fine, except for the hard and uneven shadows it can cause, which may lessen an otherwise awesome picture. I have a problem where I like to take pictures of myself using the timed interval setting on my camera. I rarely have a photographer friend around, and this helps me figure out better posing and what parts of my costume may not be working. It’s always so disappointing when I love a shot, but for the horrid shadows and yellow cast caused by the overhead light. Photoshop can only go so far to fix these, and many a good picture has been lost to the delete button.

Cut to New Year’s Eve. I was high on an unexpected daily deviation and had the house to myself (which is never a good thing on its own). I had been wanting to take some pictures of Hawkeye for a while, but I couldn’t go outside because it was raining all day, and when I would try to get pictures inside… just no. Struck with sudden inspiration, I built my own studio lighting set-up in my living room, intending to even everything out and counter-act the gross yellowy bulb light from the over head.

What do you know, it worked.

Not pretty, but functional

I had comparison shots that showed the before and after with the lighting, but I accidentally deleted the before. Trust me, there was a huge change. Not as good as you’d get in a studio, of course, but still there, and it was enough for my modest needs.

Not to go about building your own. You’ll need two boxes or pieces of cardboard, two bright desk-lamps (and maybe an extension cord, desk-lamps aren’t made for distance), a all tripod or other stand for your lighting (I used a telescope tripod), and a tripod or stable surface for your camera, and two little clamps (those HUGE paper binder clips probably work, but I had access to clamps), two scraps of white-white fabric, and pins. Note: my camera was too short, which made my chubby round face look chubbier. Be aware of the angle you want and where you place your camera.

It's hard to see

It’s hard to see, but look at the corner of the box. The fabric is pinned down. I used one straight pin into the box in each corner, pulling the fabric as tight as I could. The fabric is doubled over because it was long enough, and because more white=more reflective. Do this to both boxes. Now attach one light to your stand (I had a clamp-base light, so I just clamped it on, you’ll have to figure out your own method based on your light and your stand), and then put one on the floor a few feet over, and face both away from the target area. you’ll want your reflected light to come from top and bottom and both sides to cancel out as many shadows as possible.

Turn off all your lights, and then turn on one of your lamps. Use a box and try to reflect the light from the lamp to your target area. Test until the area seems to be well flooded with light, and mentally note that area. Repeat with your other lamp. When you’re done, turn off your lamps and turn on your big lights, and it’s time to get clamping.

Get the clamps!

This part will involve some trial and error based on your stand and your box/cardboard. I used a pizza box, but that couldn’t clamp on by itself. I had to cut a flap off the corner and stick it out straight, using a folded piece of cardboard to keep the box from falling forward on the crease. Two clamps kept it steady. Practice and adjust till your box is secure and both box and light are positioned properly. The second box on the floor should only need some propping. My couch served this purpose.

Now get turn on all lights and get your camera snapping! Like I said, I have no comparison pictures, but the overhead lights in this room always give really harsh top-to-bottom shadows, and it’s very yellow. The picture below is taken with this reflector set up, and there is absolutely no photoshop (if there was, I’d have removed or lessened the reflection of my reflectors in the window ^_^;; )

Hope this helps!

The reflection is proof!