Easy Holiday Photo Booth

Easy Holiday Photo Booth

Holiday events have a way of filling a room. Being tasked with running a party photo booth for friends and family can be daunting, especially if your budget isn’t big and your space isn’t, either. We put together a simple, fun photo booth using portable items that you can rent from BorrowLenses.com. There are various ways to make a booth–some even more simple than this, many more complex. This is just how we did it and you can improve/build upon it. If you do create a booth, feel free to share links to your fun party pictures in the comments below and tell us how you made it! Our Backdrop: We purchased a lightweight wood dowel and stapled garland to it. It is light enough to still be able to hang with gaffer’s tape and not ruin your hosts’ walls. Of course, we have backdrops and backdrop stands for rent. But they take up quite a bit of space. Equipment Used: 3 Nikon SB-910s: 1 main, 1 fill, 1 back light. 3 SD-9 Compact Battery Packs for Nikon: extra battery power for the flashes. D800, using the popup flash as a commander (info box below for other flash-triggering options) Photoflex OctoDome Extra Small Kit: comes with a speedring, flash mount, and multiclamp. Manfrotto lightstand for the Photoflex OctoDome. AlienBees LS1100 backlight stand and multiclamp for the back light. Justin Clamp for the fill light (bouncing off a reflector). Pocket Wizard Plus II and TT5 (info box below for other shutter-triggering options). Pocket Wizard motor cord for Nikon. Tripod and ballhead for camera. 35mm lens or something with a range like 24-120mm, allowing...
Understanding Softboxes

Understanding Softboxes

Off-camera strobes and other forms of lighting have become remarkably approachable over the past few years. The knowledge and information that were once the sole province of pros working with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment in studios or on location is now all over the internet for the taking. We carry a fair amount of lighting gear, and given that we cater to the novice as well as the pros, we also answer a number of questions about one particular piece of lighting gear: the softbox. Over the phone, via email, and through our social networking outlets, we respond to queries ranging from the number of stops a box’s diffusion fabric will eat, to “What’s a speedring?” This article is designed to help you understand the various pieces of a softbox and how it is used with a studio light like the Einstein E640 or the Profoto D4 heads we rent. Let’s start with what a softbox is. Basically, it’s a light modifier. Its purpose is to diffuse the lighting coming out of a studio head (or a small flash, but we’ll cover that in a later article) so that you can achieve the soft shadows and gentler light quality you see in so many professionally-taken photographs. Now let’s break down a complete light setup, with softbox. In the image above, you can see the three basic components of a studio light with a softbox. We have the softbox itself, a speedring (which is only barely visible right now), and a studio light. You’ll probably have noticed that the softbox is made by Profoto, while the studio...
Get the Missing Manual for Light

Get the Missing Manual for Light

 With autumn upon us, daylight hours are fewer and further between. I don’t stop shooting (later sunrises mean I can actually drag myself out of bed at a better hour), but I do take more time to catch up on my reading. Accordingly, I spend some time to put together a list of the best photography books that I want to go through each year and will bring you reviews of the ones I liked the most. My (virtual) bookshelf is full of titles I’ve read or plan to read for reviewing or for personal edification. Some, like Brian Smith’s book on portraiture, which I reviewed earlier this week, are for personal edification and review. Some, like Light, Science, and Magic, are on there because the subject matter is of interest. And some are on there because I’ll read even an obituary by one of these authors. Authors like Joe McNally, for example, whose books like Sketching Light and The Moment it Clicks make for fantastic and entertaining reading. Others write books so chock full of information that they become indispensable reference material that I find myself going to pretty often. My friend Syl Arena is an author and teacher who falls into the latter category, and his latest book, Lighting for Digital Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots is something that I think should be more appropriately titled “Light: The Missing Manual”. This is Syl’s second book; the first, The Speedliter’s Handbook, is now considered to be a sort of bible for Canon Speedlites. It is easily THE definitive book on Canon’s small flashes, and Syl has carved out...
Kino Flo Celeb 200 DMX LED Lighting Kit

Kino Flo Celeb 200 DMX LED Lighting Kit

One of the newest lighting kits we have here at BorrowLenses is the Celeb 200 DMX LED from Kino Flo.  The Celeb features 100 watts of lustrous, soft white light, which can be programmed to display a range between 2700K to 5500K, without changing the light output. Perfect for videography and filming with a warm or cool lighting tone without having to make color temperature edits in post-processing. It also features a DMX lighting connection to be used with control boxes for video and stage productions. One of our resident portrait photographer, Alex 2.0, took it for a shoot recently and let us know her impressions. The Celeb is very easy to use right out of the box and produces very nice, natural looking light with very little preparation. In this simple profile portrait, the light is placed about 2 feet from the subject, tilted at about a 45 degree angle, set to a temperature of 5500K and dimmed to about 39%. The 90 degree grid that comes with the kit in combination with the right exposure in-camera, allowed for nice, focused light on the subject and a dark background despite the portrait being shot in a bright white bedroom. If you are unsure of your preferred color temperature, there are handy presets available at the push of a button. What is nice about continuous lighting such as this is that, typically, what you see is what you get. It is also, of course, indispensable for video production lighting and handy for photographing animals since there is no popping flash, which can be startling. However, the kit is only...
The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part I

The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part I

This is Part I of a series on moving from an all-Canon setup to an all-Nikon setup for four weeks. Will I go back to Canon at the end of four weeks? I have no idea… “I’m going to check out a bunch of Nikon gear and go shoot with it for four weeks. Then I’ll write a series of articles about it.” I grinned at Jim Goldstein, BorrowLenses.com’s VP of marketing, and my nominal boss. He stared back at me, first with a blank expression, then with a knowing glint in his eye. “You’re looking to switch, aren’t you?” he asked. “And you want to use this idea for a series to test the waters on the other side, dontcha?” He kinda had me there. I’d been eyeing that D800 ever since it was announced, and was eager to give it a try. More importantly, I really was thinking of switching sides. Two of my idols, David Hobby and Joe McNally, both shoot Nikon. Nikon’s CLS (Creative Lighting System) for their external flashes is world-renowned, and is a traditional area of strength for that brand. As someone who uses lighting a lot these days, I had seen what all the fuss was about and wanted to put it through its paces for my own shoots. “Well, no, I’m not looking to switch,” I told Jim. “But if it happens as a result of my experiment, well…” Jim’s a good sport, and we both agreed that it would be worth it to see what a Canon shooter with an open mind would feel about moving wholesale to Nikon gear. So,...