An introduction to my favorite basic lighting equipment including the “stick in a can” and simple clamp lights from a hardware store.
I feel like a complete, total IDIOT for not thinking of the stick in a concrete can idea before! I’ve never seen that done. It obviously works better than clamping hot lights to tripod legs and assistant’s body appendages, ears, etc. as I’ve done in the past.
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Hi Terry, when I worked at a catalog house there were tons of ‘stick in a cans’. With seven photographers it was a lot cheaper. Plus they’re faster to adjust when you want to raise or lower a light or reflector. Another bonus is they fit in really tight to a set or tabletop…they’re easier to fit into spots than a light stand. Don’t get me wrong, we still use light stands for strobes and heavy things. But for clamp lights and foamcore reflectors? Stick in a can!
wow. Stick in a can. So obvious now. One thing you haven’t me tionsd in your videos regarding light is : what kin of light? Incandescent flourescent etc…
The pan light in this video has a standard 75 watt household incandescent bulb, nothing fancy. Sorry I didn’t mention it! You would get the same results with a compact flourescent bulb but it would have a slightly different (closer to daylight) color balance. Either way is fine, just stick with the same style of bulb if you’re using multiple lights.
In the ‘lighting glassware’ video a small studio light with focusing capability was used. It had a 200 watt bulb…considerably brighter.
When I first saw your video, I decided to show it my spouse as well, because it demonstrated so clearly on how important each tool (softbox and reflector) were for final outcome.
I had already sort of forgot it, when I noticed that video was also published in strobist.com.
Congratulations on that part.
Thanks for sharing this. I love the can-in-a-stick idea. Sometimes a lightstand just won’t fit in the space that I have–this will do the trick.
Jim – great resource! Thanks for all the hard work. You’ve made my google reader feed.
I was wondering about the acetate screen … any details on this?
great movie learned something about simplifying.
Matthias, the acetate used is called Rosco Tough Frost Diffusion # 3026. One of this site’s sponsors, Calumet Photographic (link in right sidebar) sells it in 20″ x 24″ sheets for $7.95. We buy it in 48″ x 25′ foot rolls for $136.99. You can also use vellum paper…I’ll write more about options in this Friday’s post!
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Great videos and ideas. Thank you so much for sharing!
I have a question. You use simple lights instead of flashes and I can really get into that because all those strobes would be way too expensive for most of us who are just getting into photography. My question is what kind of bulbs do you use in the lights? Whenever I’ve used lights in the past, the bulbs I’ve had were way too yellow and really ruined the balance of light (between ambient light, camera flash, and the yellow bulbs). This makes it really hard to use simple lights because of all the correction needed in Photoshop afterwards. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Andrew, the bulbs I’m using here are standard, inexpensive 75 watt tungsten household bulbs. Since they are the only source of light in the shot the color balance is even. They don’t mix well at all with flash and daylight, though, since the tungsten bulbs are much warmer in color (unless you want that effect for a particular shot).There are some blue / daylight balanced household bulbs that will work much better, as will the new spiral flourescent bulbs. I’m working on a ‘cheap bulb comparison’ for a future post and will be comparing the color balance with flash and daylight, along with giving more technical specs. Thanks for asking!
I’d like to see how to get shots closer to the horizon without building a light table and without casting shadows on the backdrop.
[...] photographed a little better, it’s not quite as shiny in real life. My next project is to build myself a softbox to light my paintings so that I can photograph them while they are [...]
Excellent video – I hadn’t realised how achievable good looking product type shots were with a bit of improvisation.
Those pan lights you use though are proving hard to find here in the UK anyone know where I can get hold of some as they look ideal?
I’ve put “pan lights” and other variants into google and been to my local diy store all to no avail…
I watched almost all of your videos.
Those are the best tutorial videos
I have ever seen. Thank you very
much for sharing.
I do like the tools you used to quickly
set up the table. Could you please
direct me how to find them? Thanks
Hi skyharbor, thanks for watching! The table is made from simple saw horses and a laminated white tabletop, available at any home improvement store (Home Depot, lumber store, etc.). For more info on the rest of the items used, check out this post: more sticks, screens and bulbs.
Thank you very much for replying. Yes,
I found them in Home Depot’s website.
I have bookmarked your website and will
come back frequently and regularly.
i’m in australia(syd) and i’ve been looking for these clamp lights with big reflectors everywhere and cant seem to find any.
does anyone know where I can find any?
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I am just getting started in product photography and your video is so timely. I have struggled with all kinds of contraptions to hold the six cfl lights in reflectors and you have made it so simple. Thanks so much. I will probably be viewing all of the videos over time. I have suspended a fabric that is used to line women’s skirts that is very translucent and works well as a diffuser.
[...] sites author, Jim Talkington (awesome name btw) has posted almost 30 video articles on things like DIY Product Photography, Beautiful Portraits with Just One Light, through to Colour Management. There’s really solid [...]
your living my dream job as a pro photographer. i would love to do that some day since im only 16 but your videos are helping me hopefully get there, thanks for everything your showing on your video’s, very simple and to the point. GREAT WORK!
You can find them lights at any hardware store out a farm supply store.
thx alot for all your great videos
Hi Jim! This is a nice and helpfull video for me! Thanks a lot!
I learned about your instructional videos via YouTube. They are really very helpful, especially to me who’s just starting in photography. Unfortunately, as I try to view the previous videos, they are no longer available for viewing (Episode 1 & 2, to name a few). Any chance I can view them somewhere?
Hi Rey, the videos are still there, it seems this is not an uncommon problem with YouTube. I wrote about it in “this video no longer available”. Hopefully some of the tips in the comments will get you back up and running so you can view them! Let me know how it works out.
I was about to go out and buy a sudio kit however after watching this video i will make my own before i splash on thanks for your gernerosity in providing this valuable information
Hello. I’m a rookie photographer. I just purchased Nikon D90 with a 18-200mm lense. I love the lense but I want more sharp quality in my photos. So, I’m looking into getting a lense that has a lower aperture numbers. What lenses would you recommend?
Hi, Jim … Am learning a lot about lightning, thanks for sharing your experience with us, as for some other viewers out here in this experiment Jim uses what video-photographers call “Continous Lightning”, which is different from strobing; as he can demonstrate this type of setting is just perfect for us learning to understand light as for: highlights, shadows (hard-soft-diffused), speculars (transparencies) and reflections (metals, ceramics .. ) if you model and render 3d content you probably have a little understanding of the concept ), as for DIY .. be selective in what you choose so it may not render the same effects and results compare to professionaly made equipment, yes they are good for the learning experience, but soon you’ll realize as I did, that in order to obtain the best results you have to use better suited tools ( ordered my calumet genesis 200 1 light kit already … again … thanks Jim for letting us know about this great and affordable offer.
just a final comment, I would like so much that Jim shares also a little understanding of camera use and how to get the max out of them ( Freing ourselves from Auto-Program Shift and Preseted Modes )
Thanks So Much for Reading !
Wow, studio photography has always felt like a black art to me, and the quality of my results have never pleased me. I followed this tutorial and for the first time in 25 years I am very pleased with the results I achieved. Thank you so much for sharing your skill and expertise in a way that is easy to follow and digest. I’m also really impressed that the equipment has cost pennies! I guess your knowledge, tips and tricks have been hard won over many years, and to make the effort to share them with the world is admirable. A huge thank you from a new follower of your site. BIG RESPECT!
Loved this video / tutorial. Matter of fact, I watched 28 videos this morning on this site. Inspired me so much that I went downstairs and set up a quickie studio (never done this before) and took shots of the family pets. Some of the pics are available on flickr under the name dispatchdave911.
Please remember this is my first attempt. I know there are some errors, but then again, I think there are a few that are very good.
Thank you for your video/tutorials. I have saved you as a favorite and will visit often.
Dave – Birmingham, Al
Thanks so much about ur video.It very useful for me.Look for word to see You in VietNam.
Take a look at the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens for your D90, this is widely regarded as a must have lense for a Nikon body as it is cheap, sharp and fast, also as a prime (no zoom) it teaches you to think about how you compose your pictures.
Before buying experiment with your 18-200mm set at 50mm so you have an idea of what you’ll be getting in to in terms of length. I love my 50mm although recently I got a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 which I seem to be using more – it is however more expensive!
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