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02-22-2011, 03:00 PM   #1
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Some cheap tricks to have a better light in indoor pics

Hello everyone,

I am projecting to practise some indoor shooting. Though I don't want it to be 'that' professionnal looking, I'll probably at some point intent to do 'art'. And my question would be mostly about how to manage lightning : 'normal' lamps (like desk lamps) are a bit crap and tend to add some ugly noise to the picture.

I have not much money and, even if I can afford one (good) flash, I will have to acquire some other means to light the rooms, hopefully white (or near-white) lights, so as to have more sources of light in the pictures.

Also, as I don't have all those umbrella-like tripods and all that, how can I reduce the light of a flash without losing too much of the light and not damaging it ? (this one is probably quite a dumb question).

So, I'm just basically calling for some cheap tricks, hopefully ones that are really cheap or do not cost anything!

Thanks !

02-22-2011, 03:30 PM   #2
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Just grab a knife from your kitchen and try your luck at some tourist areas.

Seriously, the cheapest is probably 1 or 2 used high power flashes run on AA and trigger via some used sync cords. They can be had really cheap and get the job done. I don't know of any cheaper way other than the 1st solution I provided, maybe just use window light plus a large cardboard to fill?
02-22-2011, 04:10 PM   #3
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If you look into the strobist blogs on flickr and the internet, they talk about how to use inexpensive older flashes in manual modes. There was an excellent thread on pentax forums, probably in the field accessories area about these kinds of flashes.

You can buy older Pentax flashes fairly cheaply. A favorite one of mine i got off ebay really cheap. Its a AF280T, swivels and rotates, which is something the modern Pentax 360 can't do. Also, there are a number of AF200 series, i got the 200S and 200T, but they don't swivel or rotate.

One can combine those older "auto" flashes and use them with Gadget Infinity V5's radio triggers and do some really creative stuff. Their latest V5 radio trasmitters sell for $59 a pair, and transmit 300 feet, I just bought 4 and had no misfires in 90 minutes of playing around with them.

There is also an older thread on pentax forums on maximum voltage permitted on Pentax hotshoes. Canon cameras have to be 4 volts or less from the flash, or they can damage the camera. I measuer the voltage on the hotshoe of any older pentax flashes and don't use any higher than 12 volts, but i've read of pentax users using flashes at higher voltages than that. The cool thing about the Gadget
Infinity Cactus v5's, is that they advertise that they can be used to insulate cameras from any high voltage old flashes. No kidding, you can have a ton of fun with these cheap radio triggers and old manual flashes.
02-22-2011, 05:03 PM   #4
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Cheap lighting? Do you have any big hardware chains there? Have look in there for some worklamps. They're very cheap and can work quite well. Try and get the cooler variety though as they are also hot. I read a blog about doing this a while ago, I'll see if I can find it for you

Luckily had it saved in my bookmarks

http://www.shuttertalk.com/articles/diylighting


Last edited by NicoleAu; 02-22-2011 at 05:04 PM. Reason: updated post.
02-22-2011, 05:03 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by volthord Quote
I have not much money and, even if I can afford one (good) flash, I will have to acquire some other means to light the rooms, hopefully white (or near-white) lights, so as to have more sources of light in the pictures.

Also, as I don't have all those umbrella-like tripods and all that, how can I reduce the light of a flash without losing too much of the light and not damaging it ? (this one is probably quite a dumb question).
Not really dumb. Sounds like you want something cheap to diffuse the flash. You can buy cheap white nylon fabric and mount it to a framed pvc piping (or even cheap lumber). Voila, you now have a diffusion panel that's used in studios. The best flash lighting is to get your flash off the camera. Whether you do this with chords or radio triggers, it would be a personal preference. Radio triggers are more versatile in where you can place the flash. I say buy a cheap flash like the old Vivitar 285 and look into the Cactus V5 triggers. They come with a little stand so you can mount it on a table top or chair, eliminating the need for "umbrella-like tripods".
02-22-2011, 08:35 PM   #6
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What kinds of things are you planning to take pictures of?

If live and moving targets are your goal then look into manual flashes and cheap radio triggers (or optical slaves, well suited to indoor use) and do-it-yourself diffusion options (hooray for dollar store shower curtains!).

If you are looking at objects that don't move, go for a sturdy tripod and embrace the cheapness of desk lamps plus do-it-yourself diffusion options.
02-22-2011, 09:33 PM   #7
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I would start with one flash gun and a shoot through umbrella.
I was able to pick up an SB800 for $275. you should be able to find the Pentax equivalent for around that price.
An umbrella, stand and bracket goes for around $60. of course, you could shoot through a shower curtain until you can spare the cash.
02-22-2011, 09:49 PM   #8
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Got a pair of Yungnuo full manual flashes and a CTR-301 trigger and a couple of light stand and an umbrella for less than $300

02-22-2011, 09:55 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by rustynail925 Quote
Got a pair of Yungnuo full manual flashes and a CTR-301 trigger and a couple of light stand and an umbrella for less than $300
There you go. Add one sun reflector from your car and you have your three point lighting.
02-22-2011, 09:57 PM   #10
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my "studio" consists of a desk lamp that went on super clearance at office depot for 3 dollars, another desk lamp that has ducks on it and is missing a shade, a couple of sheets of poster board, and finally, a piece of printer paper to act as a diffuser for my on camera flash.


this of course is what i use to take picture of things the size of a laptop or smaller.
02-22-2011, 10:10 PM   #11
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In a room with a lot of natural light during the day, hang a white bedsheet over the window.
02-22-2011, 10:25 PM   #12
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I hung white opaque shower curtains on my 'studio' windows to help diffuse the light
02-28-2011, 11:21 AM   #13
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Original Poster
Thanks for your suggestions and links. For the moment I'm really doing whatever I can to avoid spending much money, trying to keep my cash for a new lense (I still shoot with the 18-55 kit), so I'll stick with desk lamps and shower curtains and such things!

For the moment, I have a very old flash that has nothing to do with the brand. It has only two modes : one powerful, and one VERY powerful (the kind of flash that makes you blind for 2 minutes if you trigger it on your face). So it sucks. Also, I wanted to know what was the difference between a Pentax flash and any other. Is it only a matter of compatibility with the camera in terms of how it will set the automatic settings ? With my current flash I'm obliged to work out the settings by myself. The camera can only damaged if the voltage is too high right ?

I also heard of some little thing that could be placed under a second external flash and would, when catching the light of another flash, trigger automatically. Could you remind me the name of these things, if that rings a bell ?
02-28-2011, 12:38 PM   #14
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Hello

If your “indoors” have white (or similar) walls near the shooting activity, why not try a lightscoop (http://www.lightscoop.com/index.html) diffuser?

It’s used with the camera flash, I do have one and have had quite some fun with it - the results are mostly (for me at least) in line with what you see in the website examples.

Best regards,
02-28-2011, 12:57 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by volthord Quote
...
I also heard of some little thing that could be placed under a second external flash and would, when catching the light of another flash, trigger automatically. Could you remind me the name of these things, if that rings a bell ?
That would be the optical slave trigger. However I got a transmitter + 2 receivers set of PT-04 radio triggers for US$ 25 including postage from a Chinese Ebay seller which "just work" as far as I can tell so you might want to check that out. It took a couple of weeks for these to arrive and there is an El-Cheapo feel to these, but I'd easily pay double (which is why I'd get the Cactus v5s now )
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