In keeping with the low-budget nature of the Hawaii Trip, I decided to actually make some of my own gear. I didn't get to do everything I had hoped (time has a way of slipping by quickly when you're planning something big) but the flash grid project I was able to do the night before we left.
The grid actually worked out PERFECTLY. I was amazed at how great it was. I am making two more, one with longer straw pieces for a tighter beam, and one that's a little wider as well. The one I made was right in the middle... and ended up being perfect for a general flash grid that lasted me the trip.
What you'll need:
black drinking straws (I got mine from Panera Bread)
Quick Grip glue (I got it at Michael's)
black duct tape (I bought black Duck Tape from Michael's)
cardboard (I used thin product packaging cardboard
a ruler is good, but I didn't use one
black marker (I was going to use it to black out the edges of the cardboard, but didn't show that in the video)
The Quick Grip Glue was very key to the success. I've read a number of posts (the one I used to make mine was HERE) and a lot seem to have trouble with durability. The glue I used made this thing nearly indestructible, it's holding up perfectly by being completely strong without being brittle... and using the duct tape around it makes the cardboard somewhat tear-proof.
This first example showed me that if you truly value your time and don't have a lot to spare... this probably isn't the most cost saving project. If you have a little time on your hands, however, you're easily able to make 3 of these in less than a couple hours... saving about $70. To most amateurs and even quite a few professionals this is TOTALLY worth it.
You might also be worried that the final product will look too unprofessional... but if so... you're likely worried about the wrong things. Cover it with black and it's good enough, no one will look closely enough to see that it's homemade... and if they do you tell them that you make your own because no one out there makes exactly what you need. If YOU are professional... and you deliver professional results... that's truly all you need to worry about. Pros jimmy-rig things all the time, it's a constant necessity.
Here is the glue I used (I get 4% of purchases if you buy):
First of all I want to preface this post with the magic word... FREE.
I often hear some of the same things when people see some of our (The Bui Brothers) work or the work of some of the other photographers currently producing great photo fusion videos...
"I could do it if I had nice cameras like yours!"
"On my budget it isn't possible."
"Video editing is complicated."
I don't blame people for thinking, feeling and voicing these things. Many of the recent technological advances have been so fast and sudden that people don't realize the quality of gear that is within their reach. They also have no idea how amazingly easy some of the recent video editing software releases have made things for the everyday person.
Photo fusion isn't even an everyday term yet (Lan and I recently had a discussion about what photo fusion is HERE). Many people have no idea what it is or what can be done with it. Here's an example of photofusion the way that The Bui Brothers present it... behind the scenes of the photo shoot of television and web celebrity (House, Dollhouse, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog) Felicia Day:
I teamed up with SmugMug and decided to create a project to show everyone JUST how easy it is to create beautiful work... with some of the most affordable gear available. I'm going on a one week destination photo fusion trip to O'ahu, Hawaii... bringing a camera and lens combo that's less than $1,000 and a set of accessories and gear that is also just around $1,000 (in addition to some home-made DIY items!). The point will be to not only show what is possible with this entry-level gear, but to detail how I do all of the shoots that I'll be doing during the week.
I'll be announcing the gear list in a coming blog post, but we'll basically be doing a variety of photography and video shooting using a consumer DSLR, natural light, wirelessly triggered small flashes, affordable underwater equipment and a few accessories.
What you'll see:
DIY tutorials - Before the trip I'll be posting videos of the preparation for the event, including how I make a number of Do-It-Yourself items that I'll be using during the week for both photography and video.
Photography Tutorials - We have 4 photo shoots planned and will be shooting behind-the-scenes fusion videos of each one. These will look in detail at the wardrobe, the locations, the lighting and even some of the camera setting choices we make.
Photo Fusion Videos - We're going to produce a couple photo fusion videos just to share. We'll have behind-the-scenes videos of these as well.
Video editing screen capture tutorial - watch how I edit a photo fusion video from start to finish.
Videoblogs - We'll be videoblogging daily from O'ahu... personal videoblogs that will allow you to follow our short adventure. Hopefully they'll be funny and entertaining.
Live workshop in Honolulu - We're going to be giving a live workshop in Honolulu to a limited number of people, and some of what we do there will be recorded and shared. (more info HERE)
We have a tiny two-person team for the trip... which is being sponsored (along with the fantastic entry-level list of gear) by SmugMug. All of the media we post from the trip will also be hosted by them, which is a really easy way to show you how cool their services are. I'm mostly excited about the HD video streaming, which is fantastic.
Tracie Cotta - model - Tracie is a model and makeup artist from Orange County. She was the makeup artist on many of our recent high-profile shoots (including the Felicia Day shoot in the video above). You can see her model mayhem gallery HERE. You can follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/traciecotta
A quick video of us talking about the event:
WHEN and WHERE
The event (I'm calling it a mini-tour, even though it's only to one island) will be from September 20th to September 26th. The videos will be posted during our stay and will continue afterwards as we get everything edited and completed.
We will be staying in Kailua on O'ahu in Hawaii. We'll be shooting at various locations on the island, starting at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world... Lanikai Beach.
I am visiting O'ahu for a week as I do the Hawaii Photo Fusion tour with the wonderful model and makeup artist, Tracie Cotta. We are being sponsored by SmugMug to come out and spend a week shooting photos and videos to create a series of video tutorials and behind-the-scenes looks at some of our lighting, posing and shooting techniques.
I did a small photography and lighting workshop in March of 2009 the last time I was out here... it was literally thrown together at the last minute at the request of a few people... and I was happy to have had 26 people attend and spend a few hours with me at Magic Island, Ala Moana Beach Park, as the sun set. This time I thought I'd go all out and cover everything I think is necessary to light and capture great photos AND videos and meld them together into what is now being called photo fusion videos.
The workshop will begin indoors at the ING Direct Cafe in Honolulu (map), light refreshments will be served and we'll spend a couple hours in-class. We'll then head outside for a 2.5 hour hands-on lighting workshop.
Bring your camera, we will have a live model (the gorgeous Tracie Cotta) and you'll be shooting her in various scenes using some natural light, some flash-lighting. (you can also see Tracie in the iJustine video above, she is the makeup artist!)
"Fusion" is probably a term you've heard a lot recently. With the proliferation of DSLRs with video features it's now easier than ever for photographers to capture GORGEOUS video while shooting photos without worrying about taking along an additional device. This allows for the simple "fusion" of photography and video for wonderful videos of weddings, events and photo shoots.
We (The Bui Brothers) also use it in other ways. The last few high profile photo shoots we've done we're accentuated by behind the scenes videos that have actually gained more attention than the photos themselves. We actually attribute more than half of our recent photo business to these videos. When watching them, potential clients are able to see not only how we work but also who we are.
Here is the behind the scenes video we shot during our photo shoot of iJustine at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Beach:
photo editing workflow
basic video editing software (iMovie)
video editing techniques
how to create simple music for your videos (Garage Band)
how and where to find legal free music online
how to publish your content on SmugMug and share it on your blog or other sites
The questions we get most often from people are regarding the lighting techniques we use in our photographs. We typically do outdoor shots using a combination of ambient and flash lighting supplied either from small flashes or Alien Bees lights.
On this trip I'll be shooting with two Vivitar flashes and a brand new set of Radiopopper JrXs. They are all as affordable as it gets! I'll also be using some homemade modifiers to properly control the lighting, and will spend a couple hours setting up multiple sets for you to photograph.
In this part of the workshop I will show you exactly how to light your subject and why I make certain choices to get the effect I want. You'll have the opportunity to photograph Tracie in each set with the lights I set up.
choosing your location using the available light
using flashes to fill against the sun
using a single light for portraits
posing your model
using direct sunlight to backlight your subject
using light modifiers for complete control
a bunch of other stuff that will come up as we work
Fusion workshop (1st part of the workshop)
1958 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96815
In part 1 of Shoot One we shot in Tracie's front yard, her bedroom, downtown Fullerton, Disneyland and at a local park. That left 2 days... which took us to San Diego and back up to the OC Fair for part 2.
San Diego "secret" location
Years ago I saw some photos on flickr that were really cool... they had very dynamic lighting... and the location was outstanding. I'm not usually a big fan of girls in bikinis just for the sake of showing skin... but these were really good shots otherwise. I was about to do our first photo shoot of Paul Dateh and I wanted a really cool place to shoot... so I contacted the photographer and asked about the location.
"It's a secret."
Oh. Well that sucked. I sorta understood because if you have a cool location that you use often you may not want it to be swarming with every kid with a DSLR and a cute girl at his disposal... sooner or later that will cause problems with the owners/tenants/neighbors... someone. But I couldn't just give up... so I plead my case a little harder... and he finally relented... but only after I promised not to share the locale with any other photographers. And I haven't. So... don't ask where these were done. I made a promise and I like to keep those. When I can.
We got to the location about an hour before sunset... we planned on getting through two outfits... I hadn't even seen the first one, but LOVED it. Tracie knows how to put together an interesting ensemble, that's for sure.
And she knows how to look fierce.
For the final shot, just after the sun dropped below the horizon, Tracie quickly changed and we took this final photograph... and then, like teeny tiny vampires... a flock (or is it swarm?) of blood-thirsty mosquitoes chased us back to the car.
The OC Fair
In the 16 or so years I've lived in Orange County... I think I've only actually been to the fair like 3 times. Once to shoot a Noodle Scar episode and twice just for fun.
This year Tracie and I decided to go on the last day it was open... and we ended up having a lot of fun and not shooting very many photos... but two stood out as ones I loved. The fair really is a good place to capture color and lights... kinda like Vegas. But with barn animals and carnies.