Studio Lighting Equipment - How to Get Professional Results on a Budget

Published: 18th June 2010
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There is a lot to be said about having the chance to shoot in a studio filled with expensive lights and equipment perfect for creating the perfect photo. Unfortunately, most people who love photography as a hobby, don't have the budget to spend money on a professional lighting equipment setup. In fact, if you enjoy photo as a hobby but not as a profession, there's really no reason to spend so much on something that you will use so little. Here are some ways that you can get studio-quality images simply by using the light you have around you.

Home-made Reflectors

One of the keys to studio lighting is "bouncing" the light off of reflectors or umbrellas to create full, soft, and even light. Though this is hard to do without a few different light sources, you can mimic the effect by making your own reflectors to use when you shoot. Lots of things will work to help soften the shadows that are created when you're only using a single light source such as the sun. For example, you can use a white sheet, a large piece of poster board or even a large piece of Styrofoam.

Use Backdrops Creatively

You may not be able to have a large selection of photo backdrops like in a professional studio, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun creating one of your own. You can use bed sheets for basic colors and then if you want to get creative you can always use paint to create a pattern or add color. The best thing to do is hang your backdrops on the opposite side of a big window or a large bright opening (like a garage door opening) and it will be like you're using a fill light pointed directly at the subject.

Get Out the Paint Brush

Whenever you go to shoot, always remember that all surfaces either reflect or absorb light so keep this in mind especially when designing a room for taking pictures. If having a lot of lights in the room isn't an option, then you should consider painting the walls and floor white. The white walls will help to bounce the light around for a more even tone.

Control the Flash

A direct flash will often make the subject have harsh shadows or look shallow but if used correctly it can be a great lighting tool. Whenever possible, look to bounce it off surfaces around your subject and only use it to fill in the shadows from the front. Think about it this way - if the image you are building looks like you won't need a flash, that's a perfect time to use one for additional fill.

Watch Your Time

Light looks different at different times of day. If you use your homemade reflectors to soften the shadows and use your backdrop facing towards the early morning light, you'll be happily surprised at the great results you'll get. Try taking photos at different times of day to see how the difference in light impacts the way things turn out, then book your studio sessions in for the times in which you'll have the best light possible.

It's important to remember that studio lights, for the most part, were created to simulate the light that we have in our every day lives. If you know how to harness this light and make it work for you, there's absolutely no reason that you shouldn't be able to generate images that compete with those created in the most expensive studio in town. If you have the desire and creativity to do it, you can create your own makeshift studio with a little bit of effort and ingenuity. At the end of the day, the only important thing is the result - the method is secondary.


Autumn Lockwood is a writer for Your Picture Frames. Shop online and see our selection of 11x14 picture frames in a wide variety of styles, shapes and colors. Visit our website to see our selection of

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