Want your small items to look smashing? Put them in a tent!
No, this is not about camping out!
The Same but Different
The side of the tent the light is aimed at diffuses the external light source and the sides of the tent not being used to transmit the light become perfectly-placed fill cards. There is an old photographic pun that says a photographer’s best friend is a guy named “fill” and, in a way, photographic tents provide automatic fill lighting.
A Tent For You!
I have found a solution to many of my tenting requirements in a readymade, collapsible tent called the Digital Lighthouse by Photek. Basically, it’s four fabric-covered hoop reflectors (you know…. the kind that go “foop” when they are snapped open and are hard to figure out how to collapse) that have been squared off and arranged in a rectangular box shape. In addition to its modest price, the Lighthouse comes in small and large sizes, features zippered openings on both a big and small side of the box.
There is a rectangular opening surrounding the zippered slot on the small side that’s held shut with Velcro. It also includes a hard plastic bottom panel within it, and comes with a zippered carrying case. More importantly, it has Velcro fasteners on the upper rear inside corners to attach a background
I must add that I hate how almost every manufacturer has found a way to add the buzzword “digital” to their product name, trying to cash in on the current digital craze. When it says it’s a “digital” tripod or a “digital” tent does that mean it can’t be used with film? Of course not! But, even though Photek has followed this road in naming their tent, it doesn’t mean that you should overlook the Digital Lighthouse if you shoot film. I dislike the exploitive and manipulative efforts of the marketeers (sic) who are trying to jump aboard the digital bandwagon. Whether you record on film or flash card isn’t important, it’s the photographs that are! However…. I will purchase the first digital chicken that is introduced sight unseen!
The light is much bigger than the tent but the rule is tiny tents for tiny subjects! What’s in the ice cream cone tent? A coin!
The Photek Digital Lighthouse has zippered slots, an opening panel secured by Velcro, and a black velour background that can be attached to Velcro tabs inside the bank when you want a black background.
Using a single light source to photograph this model locomotive shows just how easy it is to create beautiful lighting with a tent.
Do it yourself? Building a tent can be a real pain…
Pro still life photographers often build their own tents, creating them in all different shapes and sizes. In its simplest form, a tent can have only one side. In this incarnation, an illustration board, whose size is determined by the subject size, is hung in front of the camera and a hole is cut in the board through which the lens “sees” the subject. Add a bank light above the frontal wall (the illustration board with the hole in it) and the tent now has two sides.
If the surfaces of the subject are highly reflective, sidewalls of white illustration board can be added and hung from the bank. In this example, considering the background, the surface the subject rests upon, the sidewalls, the front wall with the hole in it, and the bank light above it all, the subject is totally surrounded and all reflections off it are controlled.