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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Building a passion (hardware/equipment)
Showing posts 1 - 9 of 9, (reverse)
07/15/2003 09:14:21 AM · #1
OK. I'm a novice (as my scores show). I can do something about my eye by reading a little and shooting a lot and listening to the comments you folks make to help me.

When it comes to the equipment I need to invest in, I'm more dependent on others to know what to get. Can you please provide me a list of equipment (not necessarily the brand unless that's important) that a photog should invest in over the years to build a fun and respectable studio/mobile setup? I just got a book on portraits (Perfect Portrait Guide - //search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?isbn=2880466873&itm=2 ) in which the setup is shown for many photos. I see a lot of reflectors, light boxes, tungsten lights, backdrops, light meters, etc.

Thanks for your help.
07/15/2003 09:32:49 AM · #2
First of all, decide what type of photography you are most interested in. If you buy a bunch of studio portrait equipment, and later find out your real passion is landscapes... you know what I mean.
I've taken some great portraits with halogen flood lights (inexpensive at Home Depot) with some white ripstop nylon fabric draped in front of the lights, and foam board for reflectors. You can achieve great results with inexpensive materials. If you find out that it truly is your passion to do portrait photography, then invest in the expensive lighting equipment.
Obviously, a quality camera is your first step, no matter what direction you go. I use a 5.0 megapixel Sony, but I'm just anxiously awaiting the day that I can get a 10+ megapixel DSLR for less than $2000. I may have to wait a couple of years, but that's OK.
Some accessories that I find to be helpful, if not a necessity are a quality tripod, extra memory cards, decent flash, etc. And last but not least (for me anyway) is Photoshop 7.0. If you learn your way around Photoshop, you can make a good photo great and a great photo excellent!

Just keep shooting and learning and have fun!
JD Anderson
07/15/2003 09:49:20 AM · #3
Personally, I would take it one step at a time. Build as you go.
You have a better understanding of your needs that way.
I started with my camera. Then, I bought a fold-up (Photoflex) reflector disc. Then I said, "how about some lights", so I did a couple of outdoor portrait shoots, earned some money, and spent it on a basic light set up. Later, I added a reflector umbrella, a tele lens, and a wide angle lens. I have decided a while ago that I need a diffuser, but have not decided which type (photoflex fold up kind.. what size, or the kind that attaches to the light set up) I want to get. I do outdoor portraiture, so perhaps... but then.. :P
Maybe you have more cash flow than me, but I decided that I just don't... and even if I did, I may not have known what works for me (price, efficiency, quality, portability).
I have been building for nearly 2 years now.. Recently I did Band Portraits for a friend... she bought me 2 backgrounds - white and dove grey - for my trouble.
07/15/2003 09:54:45 AM · #4
Hi Kevin,

Welcome to DPC. You will find that DPC is a great place to learn and to have fun. JD and Karen make many sensible comments and recommendations to help guide you.

My view is to keep it simple at the start too. Buying photography equipment is as addictive as drugs. And, it never ends too. Since I see that you are a programmer, why not take a programmer's approach to the issue. Do a needs analysis, consider options, develop a schedule, create a budget, and build a resource list. Be analytical, which is likely your nature anyway.

Improvising is actually fun. Some of the very best images were taken by the simplest of cameras and the least amount of technology. Read, learn, play, test, explore and have fun. Think of the equipment as tools. Will they help? Will they improve your work?

Personally, I own a ton of equipment. Often, lots of it gathers dust. I feel that a "crawl, walk, then run", approach works well for most beginners. Maybe it is the best way for you too?


Message edited by author 2003-07-15 09:58:08.
07/15/2003 10:17:22 AM · #5
Don't buy anything until you can really articulate what you need it for and what you expect to get from it.

People seem to buy cameras to improve their photography, when they'd be better off learning to use what they have until they can really say what is holding them back about it.

New stuff doesn't make you better, learning to use what you have well, makes you better.

This is not to say you shouldn't go and buy the most expensive DSLR you can possibly ever afford, but I sure hope you could write a page or so of explaination about what exactly you need each feature for, or at least the type of photography you want to do and how it helps.

07/15/2003 10:36:19 AM · #6
Search the site for examples of peoples "studio" set ups. Its truely amazing what these people can do with scotch tape and chewing gum!
07/15/2003 11:10:20 AM · #7
You might be best to get a film camera if you are interested in studio work. As a digital camera that would give you the same quality prints as a film camera would cost you several thousand dollars.

With most decent modern cameras you shouldn't need a light meter because you can use spot metering to get an accurate light reading on someone's face to get your exposure perfect. If you were thinking of getting a medium format film camera you would probably need a light meter as not many have built in ones. But a medum format camera is ideal for studio portrait work and it is the camera of choice for most portrait photographers because of the amazingly high quality negatives they produce.
07/15/2003 01:40:14 PM · #8
Want to shoot:
I want to shoot portraits. I'm dabbling in model portraiture; casuals, evengwear, nudes. I'm trying to get good at shooting people. I shot mostly landscapes 15 years ago and even the ones that I thought were well composed and of sufficient quality still didn't truly inspire me. Sometimes I see portraits that are composed well and in a good setting and I just think that the shots capture some facet of life that I can remember feeling for just a second. Anyway, that's my goal right now. I want to photograph people. I'd like to take some of the shots that capture moments in life where someone is sitting or playing or something and a photog just happens by and snaps some pics. I got a set last night when I just drove past a house that one of the local fire depts was burning down to train their new recruits. I'm trying to figure out how to crop and present these photos.

My equipment:
I have an old Canon A1 (I think that's the designation on it) with a 28-70mm lens. I also have a Canon EOS Rebel with a 28-70mm lens (different lens). My final camera is a Sony DSC-S85 4 megapixel digital camera. I have no lighting or reflectors.

My natural settings:
I have a room in my home that I could devote to indoor/studio shots but I have no equipment for it. Our local area is in the southern end of the Appalachian Trail so we have low mountains here in the southeast; lots of vegetation and many of the nearby cities have sections of the towns with updated buildings as well as older structures for settings.

My first model shoots will be out of doors mainly and one indoors at a local landmark. I will be shooting a young lady in eveningwear and a couple of days later I have a model for a nude sitting. I have another model who has agreed to shoot a topless set but we haven't set the time. I want to focus on the angles and shoot more abstract body shots to try and capture the lines of the bodies and the contrasts cast by shadows on the body.

At least, that's what I'm thinking. Now that I suddenly have 3 people lined up, I'm worried that I'll just be throwing away several hours of my time and end up with a lot of poorly shot film or junk digital photos.

Please provide comments on any part that interests you as I'm looking to become better at the mechanics and the artistry of photography and this community has so far helped me see some problems I have with the 2 shots I've submitted already.

Thanks again
07/15/2003 01:49:17 PM · #9
Some random thoughts:

You can do a great deal with natural light, particularly towards the start and ends of the day when the light is best (about the last hour before sunset is a great time)

Look at the light, really look at it.

Research your locations before you bring someone out to shoot there. Have a good idea of how the light is at different times, understand where the shots you want are, look for things that will make good out of focus backgrounds and pleasing compositions, before you have someone standing there. Take shots of backgrounds, with the focus set where you think you'd put a subject and look how the backgrounds work.

Know your equipment. You want to have dealt with all the technical issues _before_ you have someone standing in front of you. When there is someone there, you need to be paying attention to their body position, how they are connected to the earth and how that changes how the light hits their body.

A large sheet of white cardboard can be used as a pretty cheap reflector, you can use these to play with natural light to fill in shadows. It really helps to have someone to assist you if you are going to use scrims/ reflectors.

I wouldn't bother getting lighting equipment until you can do a really good job without it. Certainly don't get more than one strobe/ light and use that until you feel the need to get more and really understand how to use that one light. I think you'd be better learning how to use natural light first and getting a really good understanding of how light and shadows play on people.
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