Hacker Photography-one photo at a time
On December 7, 2021, Joe Edelman made a comment
This is the holiday season and I have some cool tips to help you upgrade your family and friends portraits this year. I will show you how to make some beautiful DIY portrait backgrounds from your Christmas decorations, complete with bokeh balls. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, don’t worry, you can go to the Dollar Store and make them from scratch for about $10.
Please be sure to read to the end to understand my three great tips for taking great holiday photos.
This little DIY portrait background technique is very simple. It is a great technique that can be used in your toolkit to add vitality to your portrait background at any time of the year. All you need is some garlands and some foam boards.
I used three 20" x 30" foam boards. The three I used are black-but you can use white or any color. If you know my work, you will recognize these as famous DIY photo reflectors, which you can buy at Wal-Mart or almost any dollar store.
I used some black lighter's tape, which should be the main item in your studio kit, glued the three boards together, and then used the LumoPro reflector bracket to install them on the bracket. You can also use two brackets to mount them and make your own DIY Justin clips or design your own DIY PVC brackets, just like in this video.
Now that I have installed a 30-inch high x 60-inch wide DIY portrait background, I start to add wreaths. You can use any color garland. For this example, I chose gold. I just put the wreath on the front of the board and nailed it to the top. Unless you want it to be permanent, you don't need to madly paste it in place. The staples are easy to remove and will not mess up.
Some of you think that the background is not very high-I am shooting horizontally, so it is not necessary. If you want to shoot vertically, just rotate it 90 degrees, it is very suitable for vertical portraits.
For this series of lenses, I used four Shenniu AD200 compact flashes. You can easily do this with two.
My main light is placed in a 30-inch Molight portable beauty tray, slightly to the left above the camera. I used another white Walmart reflector for some filling under my subject and created a beautiful wide and soft spotlight at the bottom of her eyes.
I placed my DIY portrait background about five and a half feet behind the subject, and the other AD200 was just behind the subject and aimed at the background. To add more colors, I used MagMod handles with gel holders and red gel. Adding this red makes the background color closer to the shirt color of my subject, which makes her stand out in the image.
I was also a little bit at a loss and added two Godox AD200s, one on both sides of my subject, aimed at her head, MagMod gel holder and red gel. The last two lights gave me the red tones in her hair.
I took these images with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko 75mm f1.8. You can see in the video above that the camera is about 6 feet away from the subject. I took these photos at ISO 200 and an aperture of f/2.8.
Yes, contrary to popular belief, you can use a tiny three-quarter camera to shoot a bokeh ball, even if your lens is not fully opened. You will see that the depth of field is more than just blurring the background and shooting at f/1.8 or wider. Don't forget the focal length and focal length.
The 75mm focal length at close range gives me enough depth of field. I don’t need to worry about keeping the subject’s eyes in focus, but it’s also shallow enough to allow me to see the cute little ball reflections from the wreath.
As always, I want to see where I can go with this DIY portrait background concept. So I decided to shoot and switch to blue gel for edge lighting and background, but then I really didn't like the prominence of the red shirt.
Then, I put my subject on a simple tube top so that I could bare my shoulders and also asked my makeup artist to quickly wind her hair into a bun.
Now I think there is too much skin on the bottom, I think, because I use garlands... and I also bought some blue garlands in the store... why not wrap my model?
So I tried some changes, from single strands to several strands, to covering all her shoulders.
For more cool holiday photo ideas, check out my presentation for Olympus: Tips and Tricks for Creative Holiday Portraits
I hope you find this information useful. Now go pick up that camera and shoot something! Because your best shot is your next shot!
Joe Edelman is a visionary photographer and educator at Olympus, with a photography career spanning five years. You can find more information about Joe on his website, and be sure to check out his video on YouTube. This article is also published here and shared with permission.
Submitted as follows: Tutorial tagged with: Bokeh, Christmas photos, Joe Edelman, portrait photography
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