Tabletop Photography - part 2 of 1 2 3 4

by Dave Montizambert Published 01/11/2006


Where's the usual trade-off?

My favourite material for miniature reflectors is small cutout pieces of foil-board. Foil-board is a highly reflective, almost mirror-like, silver foil material that is stamped onto semi-rigid card stock. It is sold as 11x14 inch (approximate) sheets at graphic supply stores and is really inexpensive. Now if the thought of having to spend a few miserable quid has you quaking because you tend to be somewhat thrifty, then go no further than the kitchen cupboard, where you will find aluminum food wrap. This reflective foil makes a reasonable reflector, however it does not create as nice a puddle of light as does foil-board. Foil-board has a reticulated surface that slightly breaks up the beam of light which bounces off it, resulting in a very becoming, soft-edged, puddle of light on the subject. Foil-board can be easily bent into a concave shape to focus/increase light intensity on the subject or convex to spread/reduce intensity. Obviously you can cut it into any shape and size you want to. Supporting it is easy, my favourite is the "Grip-it" gooseneck-like supports, which I bought some years ago from CPM Inc. in Dallas, Texas (at the time of this writing I could not find them on the web but I did find a similar product online in the catalogue). However if the pricing here has you quaking you can use the fussier,


less elegant solution of sticking the foil where you need it with Blu-Tack, or better still make your own miniature 'Grip-it magic arms' with 10-gauge electrical wire and some clamps.

Start by soldering one end of the wire to a roach-clip (did I say that? I meant alligator clip! [In the UK we call them crocodile clips Ed.], then slip the foil-board into its jaws. Disclaimer: the second largest industry after logging in the province of British Columbia (where I live) is the illegal cultivation of "BC Bud" a particularly potent strain of marijuana. And so roach clips, etc, are on my mind as I am a landlord and have to deal with the whole marijuana "grow-op" issue that plagues and destroys rental properties. And now back to the article. There is always lots of the stuff left by electricians in construction site dumpsters waiting to be pilfered by you on your evening stroll - ah, 10-gauge wire not BC-bud. Since this wire is semirigid yet pliable it is easy to bend to get the reflector card into the perfect reflecting position. The card sits in the jaws of the alligator clip and the whole assembly is clamped to the set or a light-stand with a utility clamp that is soldered onto the opposite end of the 10-gauge wire.

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1st Published 01/11/2006
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