Jan Christian


Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

DIY DIY Camera Wrist Strap Paracord

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I haven’t used a regular neck strap in years. In fact, I rarely use a strap at all. When I do use a strap (mainly when shooting a wedding and I’m using two bodies) it’s a sling strap. Most other times I shoot out of a bag so long straps just get in the way. I’ve been using a wrist strap for a while now and love it. It’s quicker to re-bag the camera yet still offers security while the camera is in your hand. (more…)

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DIY DIY Photography Light Stand Sandbag

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If you don’t have the luxury of a “voice activated light stand” when using off-camera flash, then sand bags are often a necessity, especially when working outdoors. I knew I could make a better sandbag for a lot less than what’s out there, so I did! I also wanted a specific color webbing handle so I created the pattern then had Strapworks.com make me some custom webbing. Pretty sweet, eh? The main material is 1000D Cordura, which is tough as hell, and it’s sewn with #69 bonded nylon mil-spec thread. If you don’t have this thread or your machine can’t handle it, use a heavy duty thread like upholstery thread. I used “washed play sand” from Lowes/Home Depot. One bag of that will provide more than enough sand to complete two of these sandbags.
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DIY DIY Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Speed Ring

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I have a 53″ Rotalux that I use for my main light but I wanted another softbox (with grid) to use for rim lighting or when I don’t need something so large. As seen in my other blog posts, I have a 2×3 Amvona softbox, which has already been through two iterations (Mod1, Mod2) so why not go for one more. The third time’s the charm!
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DIY, FYI Design-Your-Own Custom Camera & Photography Gear Bags!

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As a photographer, I know all about the endless quest to find that perfect camera/accessory bag. Well what if you didn’t have to search for it and could have it made? I haven’t seen any places offer this so I might try to fill that niche, as I already have the tools and materials to do so.
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DIY, Review How to store & organize Strobist gels for Speedlites

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Gels are thin translucent sheets of “plastic” used to alter the color of lights and strobes. They can be used for interesting effects like adding a colored background to a portrait, or to “correct” the lighting when multiple kinds of lights are used. For example, fluorescent lights, incandescent lights and speedlites all operate at different color temperatures. If you make a picture that includes all three, you could get an ugly mix of color-casts on the subject. For example, if you’re making a portrait in an office with lots of fluorescent lighting (and aren’t overpowering the ambient completely), you should add a “plus green” gel to your strobe so that it matches the color of the ambient fluorescent lighting. They also make gels that go around fluorescent tubes (“minus green”) but it’s much easier to just gel your flash.
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DIY DIY tilt-shift/Lensbaby lens with autofocus confirmation

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Tilt-shift lenses have a few specialized uses. For example, they can alter the plane of focus by “tilting.” This can be used to create a sharp focus along something that is not perpendicular to the film/sensor, or to create an interesting depth of field that can’t be achieved with a normal lens. Depending on the subject, this crazy DOF can make a life-size scene appear to be a miniature–pretty cool! The other function of a tilt-shift lens is, you guessed it, “shifting.” This is most commonly used in architectural photography to prevent converging-lines distortion. For a more thorough read on tilt-shift photography, visit the Wiki on it. Read on to see how to make your own.
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DIY DIY Speedlite Beauty Dish

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I recently upgraded to Elinchrom strobes but speedlights will always have their place. This post is long overdue as I built this beauty dish over a year ago… In an effort to make my speedlites as versatile as possible, I thought a beauty dish would be a nice addition to my collection of light modifiers. The hardest part of this project was finding a suitable bowl for the dish. I found an 18″ wooden bowl at a Ross/TJ Max-type store. I would’ve preferred something a little larger but it was all I could find. It performs better than I expected. If you want something a little larger, halfway through the project I found one: a 30 qt. stainless steel mixing bowl, which can be had for about $20 online.

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DIY DIY SLA Battery Pack for Speedlites

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When you don’t mind packing some extra weight and bulk, sealed lead acid (SLA) battery packs are great. They last forever and recycle the flash very quickly (like fresh AAs). Just be careful when shooting at full power that you don’t melt your flash head! I also like that SLA batteries are supposed to be charging when not in use. This means they’re always ready to shoot when you are.

Making one is pretty simple if you can drill and solder. See for yourself!
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DIY DIY DC jack in 580ex Speedlite for external battery pack

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I wanted to make an external battery pack but I didn’t want to use “dummy batteries” to connect it to the flash, I wanted a jack. Whenever I modify/make something I try to make it look as though it came like that from the factory, or could have. That was my goal for this, a clean install. I chose to mount the jack in place of the “bracket fitting,” which is next to the “external power source socket”. I don’t use flash brackets so I didn’t mind ditching the fitting. As far as I knew, no one had ever done this before so I had no idea if it would even fit, but I was confident I could make it fit. So I just started drilling…
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DIY DIY Dual Speedlite Bracket for Amvona Softbox

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As promised, here is the dual speedlite bracketry for the Amvona softbox. The single speedlite version was more than adequate for most situations but I wanted something that could easily overpower the sun behind a model. (more…)

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DIY Quick, easy and cheap “business cards” — using film

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I haven’t designed a real “business card” yet but I wanted something I could hand out in the meantime to those who ask about my work (I know, I know, my gallery still isn’t up…). All I know is that when I finally design one it’s going to incorporate spot glossing/UV, which isn’t exactly cheap considering 500 is the minimum order quantity, so I don’t want to rush it. For now, this’ll do.
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DIY DIY velcro speed strap for speedlites

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I’d like to start by giving credit to Honl Photo for the design idea. I had the supplies already so I wanted to see what I could come up with.

For those of you who don’t want sticky-backed velcro on your flash, this is the perfect solution. It’s quite simple to make and only takes a few minutes if you have a sewing machine. (more…)

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DIY How to modify an Amvona softbox for use with speedlites

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I was in the market for a softbox and came across a great deal on an Amvona Dynaphos softbox that I couldn’t pass up. The softbox came with a speedring, which was just a flat, circular sheet of metal with a pattern cut out of the middle that allowed Amvona hot-lights to be removed with a quarter turn. Luckily, it was easy to remove and replace with whatever I wanted. I could’ve modified that metal speedring that came with it but it was pretty beefy and would’ve taken longer to cut. To make life easier, I opted for a piece of 3.2mm styrene (plastic) that I got at a local hobby store (it was with the model train accessories). The actual material isn’t important, you could use styrene, ABS, plexiglass, wood, and so on, as long as its fairly thin and sturdy.

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DIY How to make a $2 softbox in 5 minutes

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I had a shoot to do but my “real” softbox hadn’t arrived yet so I had to improvise. I had everything at my house except for the diffusion material, which was only $2 at a local fabric store. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Large cardboard box. A cube will work best but use what you have.
  • Aluminum foil
  • Spray adhesive and a little duct tape
  • Diffusion material. I used white nylon that I found with the wedding gown fabrics at Jo-Ann Fabrics

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