I have recently started spending weekends in my garage working on various macro/lighting/high speed photography projects.  The image above shows the layout of the garage.  One of my goals was to have everything store out of the way so the car still fit in the garage.

In the lower right corner I have my 2007 MacBook Pro sitting on a bench.  The MacBook is tethered to the camera on a tripod which you can see along the left edge of the image.  The bench is mounted to the garage wall using hinges and folds flat against the wall when not in use.  While I shoot tethered to my MacBook, I do post-processing on a 2012 iMac which has more RAM and a faster processor.

In the center of the garage is a table on wheels.  This table is where I put the subjects of various photography projects.  When not in use, the table folds down and slides into a space at the end of the garage next to some shelves.  Again, the table is out of the way when we park the car in the garage.

On the table you cans see the blue base of a support stand.  I bought a laboratory support stand that comes with clamps and other things that are handy for hanging/supporting various subjects.

In the back of the garage there are some built-in 2×4 and plywood shelves.  In the image above you can see a black cloth clamped to the shelves.  In this case I have also clamped on some christmas lights for a bokeh project (the subject of this post).

I ordered the clamps from Amazon (here).  At $7.98 for six clamps, these are one of the best deals ever.  These clamps are sturdy, clamp tightly, and just a great piece of gear.  After the first weekend using the first six I bought, I bought another six.  Much like woodworking, you can never have enough clamps in a photography studio.

Along the left edge you can see a light stand with a light snoot made from a Pringle’s can (the subject of this post).

Below is a close-up of the Pringles can snoot.  Note the the garage door in the background.  I cut and velcroed black cards to the windows along the top of the garage door.  These cards attach to the windows and come off easily at the end of the day.  The garage also has a 2×3 foot window on one side.  I cut a black sheet to size and used more velcro along the edges to cover that larger window.  No matter the time of day, these velcroed cards make the entire garage really dark.  As a result, the only light on my subject is the light I want on my subject.

At the end of the day the clamps, velcro cards, support stands, snoot lights, and other miscellaneous items all pack into a plastic bin that slides onto a shelf in the back of the garage.

I can now spend weekends when it is cold, or otherwise inconvenient to drive to an outdoor location, in my garage working on different photography skills.


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Cross Stitch Floss

On March 8, 2017, in Garage Photography, Photography Tips, by admin
Cross Stitch Threads

Cross Stitch Floss (click to enlarge)

We have a cross-stitcher in the house.  While stitching, they put their floss scraps in a Mountain Dew bottle.  At the end of their current project, I cut open the bottle and used the floss for a stacked-focus macro project.  The pile of floss turned out to be a cylinder about 4 inches tall by 2.5 inches across.

I put the stack of floss inside my Fotodiox studio in a box to get even light around the entirety of the floss cylinder.  I then mounted my camera on my tripod with a Really Right Stuff B-150 Macro Focusing Rail.  Given the depth of the stack of floss, the use of a macro lens, and the close lens to floss distance, there was no f-stop that could achieve the depth of field needed to get the entire stack of floss in sharp focus.  Even using f/40 on my Tamron 90mm macro lens, only a limited depth of field was in sharp focus.

Really Right Stuff has a good macro article on their blog here.  In that blog they mention stacking 10, 50, and even 70 images depending on the depth of the subject.  The image above is a stack of 97 images.  Had I realized it was 97, I would have taken three more to make it an even 100!  With my Nikon D-810, each RAW image ended up being 77mb.

Not surprisingly, during post processing my iMac (with 32gb of RAM) choked when trying to stack the 97 images.  To get around this, I stacked 25 images, flattened the file, and repeated this four times.  I then took those four files and stacked them.  The result is the image above.

Click on the image, to open it in another window, then click on it again to zoom in.  You can see individual threads coming off the floss strands.  I am pretty happy with the macro rail and the Fotodiox studio in a box.


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