DIY paint can light stand part II...

Over the weekend I received an email from a reader that reminded me that not everyone is fortunate enough to have high speed internet access so viewing videos is, at times, not an option.

So here are the details on a very low cost DIY light stand/support project, I did buy a new can but used a wooden dowel and Plaster of Paris I had left over from other projects.

Here are the steps (that I used) to make a light stand in a paint can along with several images.

1. The paint can was bought at a local paint store, it was a quart size can for $1.50, new gallon size cans were $2.99, if you have any old paint cans laying around that will save you the cost of a can.

2. Close to the bottom of the dowel that was going into the paint can we pre-drilled three holes and nails were slid into/through through the holes, I always pre-drill holes when working close to the end or when the wood is small because if you don't the wood will most likely split. The nails were used to help stir and to give the shaft stability and prevent it from working it's way out as chances are extremely good that you will lift and move the "light stand" by grabbing the upright, NOT the can.

3. Plaster of Paris and water were mixed directly in the can and stirred, it will thicken quickly so have a level (and what ever else you might need) close at hand.

4. The can came with a cover and I used it to give a more "finished" look to the end product. I drilled a hole in the cover and then used the shaft of a screwdriver to expand the hole to fit. The metal is soft and you can easily work it.

And that pretty much covers it, you can find the original post (with video) here.

If you make one of these please let us know how you do by dropping us a email and uploading a picture of your paint can to our Flickr group.

(click on images to view larger in a new window)

DIY "light stand in a paint can"...

I got this idea for the paint can light stand while watching the episode "Studio Product Lighting" over at Pro Photo Life.

There was a shot in the corner of about a dozen of these DIY stands made from paint cans and sticks, different size cans with different length sticks.

If you watch episode 4 they setup for a studio portrait shoot using nothing but these DIY stands, they used them for the backdrop, light stands, supports, reflector stands, you name it and they used these DIY stands for it. In this episode it looked like everything they used for the setup was DIY, including some pretty cool looking diffuser panels. Be sure to check it out, it's less than 5 minutes long so you'll get a bunch of great ideas in very a short period of time.

Be sure to go check out Pro Photo Life, you'll find dozens of well done and informative videos chock full of no cost/low cost photography ideas.

Now, back to the stand that I made, there are a couple things I did not mention in the video but will now:

1. I used a round dowel when making my stand, but I would suggest using a square or rectangular piece of wood. With a round dowel you run a higher possibility of having your clamp slip out of position, a problem you will not have if you use a piece of wood with flat surfaces.

2. In my paint can light stand I used Plaster of Paris, but you could just as easily use cement, plastic resin, or anything that solidifies/hardens. You could use sand or gravel, but it would require you to bolt the stick to the paint can, which adds work to the project and you would also run the risk of spilling the contents all over your studio floor if the cover dislodged. Chances are you will move your paint can light stand around by grabbing it by the stick which increases the likelihood that the bolts would eventually work their way through the side of the can.

If you make one of these please let us know how you do by dropping us a email and uploading a picture of your paint can to our Flickr group.

With out further delay, here is our video on making a "light stand in a paint can".

(yes, I know I screwed up at the end of the video)

Lowepro camera bags at Black Friday prices...

All the bags you see below come with free shipping, so the price you see is the price you pay, nothing hidden, no surprises.

You will need to enter the coupon code "S1112323" during check out to receive the Black Friday price.

And though it is a "Black Friday" sale, these prices are actually good until November 30th (or until the bags are sold out).

Happy Thanksgiving...

I hope that on Thanksgiving (and every day) you are surrounded by those you love and that love you. I hope you feel blessed, that you carry hope and charity in your heart.

There are many out there who are struggling and I hope even more for you... that people reach out to support and comfort you, that your load becomes lighter and that you never feel alone.

I pray that in the days to come you can worry less, love more, and that when strangers see you on the street they wonder what the heck you are smiling about.

Let me leave you with a few words from people waaayyyyyy smarter than I:

Thanksgiving, to be truly Thanksgiving, is first thanks, then giving. ~ Unknown

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others remains and is immortal. ~ Albert Pine

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~ Thornton Wilder

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~ William Arthur Ward

Grace isn't a prayer you say before receiving a meal. It's a way to live. ~ Jackie Windspear

We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love. ~ Mother Teresa

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, that is the true measure of our thanksgiving. ~ W. T. Purkiser

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Building 24 DIY softboxes...

The good folks over at DIY Photography asked their readers to build (and share) their homemade (DIY) softboxes and they came up with some pretty amazing stuff.

Go check out all the different styles and designs and I'll probably see you at Home Depot picking up supplies.

Simple (and beautiful) lighting...

Pop quiz time, get your pencil and sit up straight in your chairs.

Take a look at this first picture (only) and tell me how it's lit.

Okay, times up... pencils down.

What did you guess? If your answer was candlelight you are right.

This photo was taken by reader Laurens Kaldeway.

During a power outage a few days ago he grabbed a handful of candles and took this picture of his daughter. Laurens converted it to black and white in Lightroom.

Doesn't get much simpler (or prettier) than that.

(click on either image to view larger in a new window)

A little light, very dramatic results...

Yesterday I was reading through Professional Photographer and came upon an article by Damon Tucci that reminded me how a little light can give you some pretty dramatic results.

Take one single Speedlight (or Speedlite) a little off camera and look what happens.

(click on the image to view larger in a new window)

A Speedlight is a powerful tool, all you need to do is watch Zack Arias OneLight DVD to see the many things that one light can do. Throw a simple inexpensive Speedlight softbox into the mix and the sky is the limit.

There is no substitute for the the right knowledge and correct tools and it won't cost you an arm and a leg: the OneLight DVD ($150), a hotshoe flash ($99), softbox ($34), shoot through umbrella ($25), cactus triggers ($50) or flash cord ($25), and a light stand ($20) will cost you around $350.

You can do it for less by sharing the cost of the DVD's with a friend, or don't buy the DVD's and use the thousands of free photography educational resources on the web. The prices I quoted is for new gear so you could save even more money buying used.

So I hope I have eliminated all the reasons why you thought you couldn't do it.

Go check out the Damon Tucci article for for the details on how he shot the above images, and be sure to check out his website as well. If you are are going to Imaging USA this coming January you should sign up for his course.

Fantastic Flickr Fotos...

Nice word play, huh?


I feel fortunate to be able to see the images members upload to our Flickr group and hope they will encourage others to join the group and share their work as well.

If you are interested in joining the Weekly Photo Tips Flickr group you can find step by step instructions here, if you are already a member of the group please keep uploading your images, they are outstanding.

(click on any of these images to view larger and in a new window)

In the market for memory?...

If you are running low on or are looking to upgrade your memory then this post is for you, because until the end of this month (November) Adorama is running a pretty darn good sale on Lexar memory right now.

Here is what's on sale (and all prices include free shipping!).

The 200x Platinum II High Speed Series:

One 4GB Compact Flash card $19.95.

One 8GB Compact Flash card $29.95, or two 8GB Compact Flash cards for $45.95.

One 16GB Compact Flash card $47.95, or two 16GB Compact Flash cards for $74.95.

The Professional 400x High Speed Series:

One 8GB Compact Flash card $36.95, or two 8GB Compact Flash cards for $64.95.

One 16GB Compact Flash card $59.95, or two 16GB Compact Flash cards for $99.95.

Ultimate Professional 600x, High-Speed Performance UDMA:

One 8GB Compact Flash card $49.95.

One 16GB Compact Flash card $76.95.

How does it go, you can't be too rich or have too much memory.


Our Holga camera contest winner is...

Our latest contest was for a Holga camera AND a seat at The Holga Project.

So without further delay, our randomly selected winner is...


Congratulations to Wesaam and thank you to everyone who took the time to enter our Holga Contest.

So Wesaam, drop me an email (so we can get shipping details) and we'll get your new Holga camera right out to you, and we'll also let Ted Forbes at The Art of Photography know who will be occupying the seat he was so generous to save for us.

We will be announcing our next contest very soon that will have an UpStrap as the prize, so keep an eye on the blog.

Veterans Day 2011...

Very early this morning my phoned buzzed... My first thought was "who would be texting me at this time of the day?".

I looked at my phone and was thankful, thankful to have a friend that knew what today was, knew what I did, and thought enough to say something.

Shortly after that I heard the words of Pearl Harbor survivor Frank Curre and realized that many of the scars inflicted on veterans are ones that can't be seen. And I wished I could say thank you to him too.

Be warned that the two minute audio clip is graphic and may be hard to listen to, but then again it must of been even harder to live through... and continue to live with.

The words of Pearl Harbor survivor Frank Curre

(subscribers may need to return to the blog to listen to the audio clip)

The subtle art of image manipulation...

I came across some well done Photoshop tips, tricks, and tutorials in a series of posts over at LifeHacker.

The first link covers popping pimples, whitening teeth, and changing a person expression, essentially "altering reality as we know it".

You can also find two posts on "learning the basics" a quick down and dirty 25 minute version and a longer, more complete guide. There is also a downloadable .pdf file that is a combination of the two.

And lastly (there are more but the last one for this post) this post covers color corrections, touch-ups, and enhancements.

Go check out LifeHacker for anything and everything related to technology.

Speedlight softbox for just $34...

Adorama is having a sale on a 16" square softbox designed specifically for small strobes (Speedlights/Speedlites) that will give you better directional control of where your light will fall, it gives you a softer diffused light, and it folds flat for easy portability.

It is larger than the LiteDome that I own (and love) and you can get it for less than half the price at just $34.

Shipping is free so at $34 this is a great price on a softbox you can take with you anywhere and is so easy to set up you will be using it in just minutes.

It comes complete with cold shoe flash mount and it can be mounted on a light stand with its built in bracket or handheld.

Follow this link for all the details.

Another reason I love Strobist...

If content is king, then Strobist is at the very tip of the pyramid.

I learn more and see more than at any other photography resource.

About a week ago David ran a story on photographer Heinz Maier, showing the most outstanding photographs of water droplets I have ever seen along with how they were shot.

You should really go check them out, and then subscribe to Strobist.

(click on either image to view larger in a new window)

Photography and food on Veterans Day...

In what seems to be quickly becoming a tradition, there are free meals for veterans.

Restaurants like Uno's, the Texas Roadhouse, Applebees, Chili's, Hooters, and Golden Coral are just some of the restaurants that are offering a free meal to veterans (and active duty military) on Veterans Day, this Friday November 11.

Not only does it seem like there are more restaurants than ever participating, but there are other retailers who are getting in on the "act of thankfulness".

Sam's Club is giving away free canes, Lowes and Home Depot are giving a 10% discount on purchases, get a 20% discount at Foot Locker (all year long), and you can even get your car washed.

Once your car is all spiffy drive to any national park and get in free all weekend long.

Check out The Military Wallet for more deals, discounts, and other resources for veterans.

Now for the photography part of this post.

The History Channel has put out a call for photos in an effort to collect an image of every man and woman whose name is inscribed on the "The Wall".

And speaking of veterans whose names appear on the Vietnam War Memorial, here are two young men from Biddeford (Maine) who are on the wall and below is a brief description of how I put these images together.

Robert N. Dechene, 23 / Army – Tour of duty 7/16/67 – 9/17/67

Raymond A. Borduas, 20 / Marine – tour of duty 5/5/68 – 6/4/68

Of all the work (photographically) I have done, these two images are what I am most proud of. Though they may have little to do necessarily with photographic skills, the families to whom they were given thought them to be wonderful “pictures”.

Here is a (very abbreviated) overview of what I did In Photoshop:

1. Took a photograph of the section of The Wall that contained their name and in Photoshop crated two layers, burnt all but their names so all other names were pushed to the background but still viewable (by creating layers I was able to adjust the opacity of the burnt background layer)

Painted their names white to make them stand out, this too was done in layers so I could better control the "brightness" of their name with opacity

Took one of their old pictures (scanned it), converting it to a digital image

Using layers (again) I combined their old photo with the photo of the wall that bore their name

It was relatively easy to create, but is (I think) and outstanding "photograph".

In closing I would like to ask you two things:

1. Please pass this post to any veteran you might know so they will be aware of the generosity retailers are showing them

2. If there is a parade in your town, I humbly ask you that you consider going

Thank you.

Doing good with your camera...

I came across this story and was only a few lines into it and knew that I HAD to share with you, it's about how photographers are making a difference with their time and their cameras.

If you are looking for a way to "give back" you may want to take a look at this story, it talks about how photographers are giving shelter pets a better chance at finding a new home with "glam makeovers".

I thought this image was a great example of how much difference a picture can make, I mean really, which dog would you want?

If you want to see some REALLY well done pet photography, please take a look at two of the photographers mentioned in the story, Seth Casteel at Little friends and Teresa Berg, people using their skills to give animals a better chance at finding a new and loving home.

Would you like a free Holga camera?...

And what if that Holga camera included a world wide project with other photographers taking and sharing their images, would that interest you?

If you said yes then do I have a deal for you!

I have a brand new Holga camera that I am going to send (for free) to one of our readers and Ted Forbes has saved one seat in "The Holga Project" for the reader who wins our Holga camera.

How cool is that?

Ted is a photographer and also publishes The Art of Photography, a great place to go if you are looking to improve your skills. You will find his podcast, a photography master class, a boat load of tutorials and DIY projects. The Art of Photography should be added to your bookmarks.

This is going to be real simple contest, all you need to do is leave a comment on any post on our blog or YouTube channel, that's it. You can leave as many comments as you like, each comment will be one contest entry.

You have until Thursday November 10th to post your comment and get your entry in. The winner will be drawn (randomly) from all entries and announced the following day.

But it's not just about winning, it will also be about following through, because Ted has been so kind to save us a seat and I would hate to see it go "unused".

You can learn more about The Holga Project here and here, then come back and start leaving your comment(s).

In closing I want to leave you with this video, it shows the kind of images a Holga will produce as well as what needs to do be done to your camera before you start taking photographs.

(those receiving this post via email will need to return to the blog to watch this video)