Cheap Photo Tip: White Bed Sheet

In photography, it's all about lighting. Natural light is the best for many things, but not always in the package that Mother Nature delivers.

Dramatic sunlight in the early morning and evening will give you blazes of color and beautiful photos. Hazy days can produce a wonderful soft glow that's diffuse and subtle.

This is the light that we often try to mimic in a studio or on location with softboxes and umbrellas. A softbox tames the harsh light from a strobe or hot light into a dramatic diffuse glow of light.

As a magazine photographer, I have to travel light (at least for the magazine that I work for), carrying around more equipment that I can carry isn't an option (I have no assistant). In fact, carrying less than I need is SOP. Rather than pack softboxes and big light kits, I've come up with ways to get great shots with little extra baggage. One trick involves a big white bed sheet.

When I check in to a hotel room, I make sure to get a king sized bed. This way I get the biggest sheet available. When I shoot house interiors, I can hang the sheet in front of a bank of windows to diffuse the light into a glow rather than a harsh blaze of light. This evens out the light making it easier to balance the whole shot. Hang the sheet with all the usual tricks: spring clips, thumb tacks, duct tape, and voodoo.

You can also hang the sheet between a couple of light stands, step ladders, doors, bookcases, or some combination and place job lights or clip on lights from the hardware store with big bulbs behind it. This will do the same thing: give bright diffuse light to balance a room.

Tip: Fitted sheets are easier to drape over curtain rod ends.

What travel tricks do you have?

No comments: