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Creating Your Own Tabletop Photo Studio

Nov 3, 2007
The creation of your own tabletop photo studio is much easier and cheaper than what you might think. Through its creation you will find it much easier and convenient to take photos of indoor flowers and other smaller objects that you may have around your home. The real advantage of using a tabletop studio is that you can avoid the elements of nature which you would otherwise be facing if you were to be photographing similar subject matter outdoors.

To create a tabletop studio you really only need three items. They are a camera, a tripod and a reflector. But there are other items that need to be considered as well. These are the supporting surface, lighting, background and the subject. We will look at each of these to see what is needed.

The camera. Pretty much any digital camera will do. If it has macro capabilities then all the better. Having macro capabilities will provide more flexibility when photographing flowers or other smaller objects. When shooting always remember to set the ISO to its lowest possible setting and to set your white balance setting to CLOUDY or to a setting that accurately reflects the light source that you will be using. Never leave this setting in AUTO as this may not produce consistent or accurate results. Another item that would be really nice would be a remote shutter release but it is not essential as most digital cameras have self timers built in.

The tripod. Use a tripod that is easy to move and adjustable. It also needs to be sturdy enough to support the camera equipment that you will be using. Typically, the heavier the camera means the heavier the tripod. Your tripod should have an adjustable head that will allow you to quickly switch from landscape to portrait, and visa versa, with little effort.

The reflector. The purpose of the reflector is to create even lighting on your subject. To achieve this effect it is best to locate the reflector on the opposite of your subject to where the light source is. The reflector itself does not have to be big but it does have to be big enough to reflect a sufficient among of light back onto your subject. Typically, the bigger the subject, the bigger the reflector needs to be to light it. To help hold and position the reflector a second tripod with a support arm can really be handy.

The supporting surface. The surface itself not only needs to be sturdy and large enough to support whatever it is that you are putting on it but, also, portable enough to be moved as the need arises. I personally prefer a good sturdy folding table due to the fact that they typically have good supports and are portable.

The lighting. You do not necessarily want the light source to be facing directly into the sunlight as this can produce harsh lighting conditions. If this cannot be avoided try placing fabric, or other materials, over the windows to diffuse or soften the light. This will produce a much more pleasing effect.

The background. Try to use coloured, textured backgrounds wherever possible. This could be a table cloth on your supporting surface to coloured papers and backdrops. I personally prefer to use backdrops whenever possible. The disadvantage to backdrops is that some require hanging and special supporting mechanisms for them to be deployed.

The subject. You should, in most cases, shoot your subject from the side facing the light. Do not be afraid to move your subject or any other item in your tabletop studio setup to get the effect that you want.

There are numerous other items that you may also wish to include but as long as the basics are covered you should be good to go.

Happy snapping.
About the Author
Stephen Cornfield is a photographer who has several years experience photographing weddings, sporting and informal events. His company, Photo Field Imaging, www.photofieldimaging.com, also provides photo editing, restoration and scanning services for all types of photographs, film and slides.
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