Sunday, 4 May 2014

Tutorial: How to Use Polyboards for Studio Photography

Tutorial: How to Use Polyboards for Studio Photography

Link to PictureCorrect Photography Tips

Tutorial: How to Use Polyboards for Studio Photography

Posted: 04 May 2014 04:19 AM PDT

Polyboards are large sheets of foam that are traditionally used as insulation in building construction. As most studio photographers know, they are also great as light modifiers. Most photographers use white and black polyboards to reflect light and create shadows. They are lightweight, cheap, and have a large surface area. For my studio, I decided I wanted many polyboards of different colours to use as backdrops and reflectors.


Polyboards can be painted any color.

To create coloured backgrounds in studios, photographers often use gels on speedlites and strobes to light up a white background. I have found this can work fine, but it can also take a bit of stuffing about getting an even and consistent spread of colour. The advantage of using gels is that you can get a larger spread of colour than a polyboard provides. But a polyboard will have a more consistent, richer colour.

There are several companies around any major city where you can find polyboards. The standard studio photography size of these is 2400mm by 1200mm and a 50mm thickness. I went for 75mm thick, as I wanted something a little more rigid. Keep in mind that the size you choose will determine the size of stands you need to construct.

If you are having the boards delivered, I recommend you make a special note to the provider to deliver them mark and dent free. Since they are usually used in construction, care is not usually taken with them, and I had to have some replaced.



Most colours require two coats of paint.

Each side of a polyboard uses between 350 and 500mL of paint—you will generally need two coats, but it depends on the colour. Most paint retailers will mix up a one litre tin of an endless array of colours for about $30. To get the best finish, I found a grey undercoat makes for a much better end result. Adding an undercoat additive to white paint will give you undercoat. A small roller works better than a brush. Not all colours are available in a matte paint, but low sheen works just as good. I used outdoor paint, which is a few dollars cheaper and works fine.

Make sure you reserve a board and paint for black and white reversible colours on the same polyboard (one side black, one side white). This will allow you to quickly reverse them without grabbing another board, as is often needed. Black and white are used most as light modifiers.


It’s best to have your stands specially welded and powder coated. I got mine without a powder coat—but I found the raw steel not only looks ugly but marks the polyboards, so I got a panel beater to powder coat them for me.


Raw steel leaves marks on polyboards.

Shooting and Practice

I have tried many lenses and lighting setups using our polyboards and I have found a long lens works best—this will give the maximum amount of subject viewable on the polyboard without the frame extending beyond the edges of the board. This means that the more space you have in your studio and the further away from you subject you can get, the better. Having my studio in an open grey concrete slab warehouse, the coloured polyboards also give the studio a lot of life.

Whilst the coloured polyboards give a fabulous rich coloured background, I am finding the black polyboards absolutely indispensable for creating shadow and deadening light. I seem to rarely take a shot without surrounding my subject with these.

I have also found the slightly rough bubbled surface of foam can show up too much in a shot depending on your lighting. It’s generally a quick fix in post to smooth and blur these out. Overall, my polyboards have been a well worthy investment and have given my studio a unique feature.


Use a long lens for best results.


  • Polyboards (2400mm x 1200mm & 75mm thick): $45 + delivery
  • Paint: approximately $30 per litre
  • Stands (with white powder coating): approximately $85 each
  • Models: priceless

So the total cost of each polyboard with different coloured paint on each side is about $165.


Polyboards make versatile portrait backdrops.

About the Author:
John McKay is the owner of Teardrop Studio in Melbourne, Australia. Having a background in education, John has been a professional photographer for a couple of years with a focus on people, portraits, and training. All images courtesy of John McKay.

Go to full article: Tutorial: How to Use Polyboards for Studio Photography

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Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

Cause-Related Photography Tips, Photographing Your Passion (Video)

Posted: 03 May 2014 06:11 PM PDT

One of the most inspiring ways to capture great photos is to photograph what you love. When passion is what drives you as a photographer, you will not only enjoy the craft more, but the inherent dedication you have toward it will show in your work. In the hour-long informational presentation below, you can see how shooting your passion has helped renowned photographer Cristina Mittermeier find success and happiness in a very competitive industry:

10 Keys to Finding And Maintaining Success as a Photographer

  1. Be passionate. Above all else, love what you do.
  2. Become a writer. Your photographs should speak for themselves, but being able to write about your passion helps book editorial jobs and serves as a supplement to your work.
  3. Research funders. Finding people who support your work and are capable of giving financial assistance when needed is priceless.
  4. Be a good public speaker. The best way to sell your message is in person.
  5. Learn multimedia. As the industry changes so do the requirements; learning audio and video can be crucial to making it in the business.
  6. Network. Always go out of the way to stay well connected. You never know where your next assignment will come from!
  7. Play nice. Treat everyone from your editors and followers to your subjects with respect and decency. There’s no room for prima donnas in photography.
  8. Understand traditional media. Traditional media is a classic approach to communicating your message. Know how it works.
  9. Master social media. Grow your fanbase with tools like Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.
  10. Cultivate your donors. Be grateful to your donors; show your appreciation frequently.


 Getting A Project Off The Ground

  • Start with an idea that can be translated visually. Thinking outside of the box is good, but make sure that your idea is tangible.
  • Think about depth and diversity. Make sure all your photos are not the same; your set of images must show diversity and tell the whole story.
  • Give yourself time. All great projects require patience; make a point to have it on your side.
  • Access is everything. Gaining access to certain cultures and/or preserves is difficult at times, sometimes requiring a lot of jumping through hoops.
  • Use words to amplify the content. Back up your photos with powerful words designed to sell your project to others.
  • Allow your essay to become a voyage of discovery. Let your writing show your passion, too!
  • Pay attention to detail and structure – Take a workshop on becoming an effective writer if you feel this a lacking area for you.
  • Be personal in your essay. Show your personality, but respect your editor. If they say an image has to go, don’t be hurt–listen to their advice!


“If you’re going to be in the business of doing nature or environmental or social photography patience is the first thing you learn, rejection is the second.”

As Christina notes frequently throughout her presentation, being a cultural and conservation photographer isn’t always glamorous. She spends long hours away from her family, and some of the projects she takes on are pure labors of love with little to no financial benefit. This is where being driven by your passion is useful.

Go to full article: Cause-Related Photography Tips, Photographing Your Passion (Video)

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Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

Interesting Photo of the Day: A Fisherman Casts His Net

Posted: 03 May 2014 04:21 PM PDT

The world is filled with terrific photographers unknown to the world, usually because they don’t speak perfect English or live in parts of the world where only a handful of artists can scrape together a living. Suloara Allokendek from Jakarta, Indonesia, is one such person. You probably haven’t heard of him, but his collection of breathtaking images captures life in rural Indonesia better than most foreign professionals could manage:


The sunlight illuminates the net naturally and beautifully. (Via Imgur. Click for larger image.)

Allokendek has a soft spot for fishermen and seems to always be ready at the right moment—when the shape of the net is full and majestic. He snapped this moment with a Canon 5D Mark II with a deep depth-of-field—probably zooming in from quite far away. The photo is called, simply, “jala”—the Indonesian word for “net”.

Go to full article: Interesting Photo of the Day: A Fisherman Casts His Net

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Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

Alternative Engagement Photography Idea, Behind the Scenes (Video)

Posted: 03 May 2014 10:11 AM PDT

Finding a unique angle for your wedding photography can be tricky, but finding a couple willing to go along with some zany new idea can be even trickier. When British wedding photographer Simeon Quarrie met the soon-to-be-married Nikesh and Lalita, he knew he’d found kindred spirits willing to go along with his plot. They decided that their engagement photos would be eerie, unique, and a little gothic, and the results are pretty awesome:

Storyboards were drawn, locations scouted, costumes designed. The whole concept revolves around the woman being a sort of tied-up doll whom the groom-to-be rescues from this creaky wooden attic.


The style is predicated on almost operatically exaggerated aesthetics: big fake eyelashes, stiff hair, suspenders, and a strongly neutral color palette.


The shoot takes place primarily in this very cool rustic wooden studio space, and the whole crew seems pretty thrilled to be there.


One thing’s for sure: it definitely makes for some of the cooler engagement photos we’ve seen.


“The pre-production was very very tough. I definitely believe that the success of any shoot comes from the preparation.”

Go to full article: Alternative Engagement Photography Idea, Behind the Scenes (Video)

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Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

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