With the introduction of the new LiteIgloo shooting enclosure products, Photoflex is also introducing a new LiteIgloo Kit to our line of complete studio solutions.
The First Studio Product Kit includes a Medium LiteIgloo, two new First Studio FirstStar quartz reflector lights with the Starlite Swivels, two Photoflex 2205 LiteStands, and two FirstStar 250-watt lamps. This gives you an extremely high quality portable studio you can set up anywhere you can find a plug. The Medium LiteIgloo measures 19.75" cubed, so it is ideal for most products the approximate size of a shoe box.
In this lesson we will take you through the basic set up of the LiteIgloo, the FirstStar lights and the 2205 LiteStands. Then we will get you started on how to use the kit showing you several set-ups and results illustrating how easy it is to create professional quality images in very little time.
- Prepping your set
- Setting up the LiteIgloo
- Installing the white sweep
- Setting up the 2205 LiteStands
- Setting up the FirstStar reflector lights
- Shooting the LiteIgloo Kit
- Shooting for background knockouts
- Lesson review
Prepping Your Set
To get started, find a surface or a tabletop to set up LiteIgloo. We set up a desktop in our studio and we will shoot from the narrow end so we can get the lights as close as we want.
Setting up the LiteIgloo
The LiteIgloo comes folded in its own carry bag. A great advantage of the LiteIgloo over some other shooting enclosures on the market is that it is collapsible, making storage and transporting very convenient.
Unzip the carry bag holding the LiteIgloo, then grip all the compressed rings of the product and remove it from the bag.
For those of you that own or have used any of our LiteDiscs, the next step is easy. For those of you that have not be prepared.
The LiteIgloo will want to spring open from its folded state. Carefully with your free hand, grip one of the edges of the LiteIgloo and let go of the compressed rings and the product will pop open into a flat rectangle with rounded corners.
Find the open end of the rectangle and lift one of the sides to form a right angle.
Next, grab the corner that is tucked into the joint of the LiteIgloo and pull it out until the product pops into shape.
Now flip over the LiteIgloo so that the opening doors face forward. The doors open from side to side so the opening should be vertical. To open up the access doors grip one of the sides and gently pull the Velcro tabs apart.
To keep the doors out of your way while you're working inside the LiteIgloo we included Velcro tabs on the side of the product. Once you have the door entirely open, turn the LiteIgloo and attach the Velcro tab on the corner of the door to the tab on the side of the product.
Installing the White Sweep
Another great feature of the LiteIgloo is that it comes with a white background sweep that fits in the enclosure and is secured with Velcro tabs. Since the white sweep section included with the product has been folded, it may need to be ironed or steamed. Be sure to use the lowest setting on your iron to prevent melting of the nylon fabric.
Once you have prepped the sweep, attach the Velcro tabs on the corners to the tabs at the top of the back panel inside the LiteIgloo. The sweep gives you a horizon-less background you can place your subjects on.
Now we can place the camera and frame up our shot. We chose this old set of chrome spurs to help illustrate the benefits of the LiteIgloo for shooting highly reflective objects.
Once you have set your camera in place, reverse the steps we illustrated for opening the doors to seal the doors around the lens of your camera. Because we made the LiteIgloo with separate doors there is no restrictions to the placement of the camera.
Setting up the FirstStar Reflector Lights
To assemble the FirstStar reflector lights, place the reflector and cord assembly face down on a surface, then slide the swivel assembly onto the yoke on the reflector.
Secure the swivel to the reflector with the thumbscrew on the swivel assembly. Now attach the swivel and reflector light to the LiteStand by inserting the receiver on the swivel to the stud on the top of the LiteStand. Then secure the light to the stand with the thumbscrew on the receiver.
Next we need to install the lamp into the light. Make sure the light is NOT plugged in. Since the lamp is in a glass envelope you can touch it with no worries, screw the lamp into the socket making sure it is seated all the way in.
Operating the FirstStar lights is very simple. First, plug the lights into a standard household wall outlet and switch on the unit. To position the light simply twist the grip handle about 1/8 a turn to the left and you can freely move the light anywhere, side to side and up and down. Then to lock the light down twist 1/8 turn to the right and the light position holds securely.
We are ready to start shooting. To make things as simple as possible and focus on the lighting in the lesson, we will set the camera to the program exposure mode. We set the White Balance to the indoor setting, the Image Quality to the large JPEG format, and the ISO to 200. Once the camera was set and our subject was framed up, we set to work on the lighting.
For our first set-up we placed the lights at 90 degrees from the LiteIgloo. Each light was centered, one on the right side panel and the other on the left and about 30 inches away (figure 32). In the following results comparison (figure 33-35) the right image is with only the right light on, the center image has both lights on and the left image is the left light only. We will follow this format as we go through the balance of this lesson.
For the next set up, we moved both lights to 45 degrees from the front to the right and left, and we raised them up about three inches. We checked our focus and fired off the series of results shots.
In our next set-up, we moved the light on the left to the back of the set so that it focused on the back left corner of the LiteIgloo. We did not move the light on the right side. Again, we checked our focus and shot the next set of results.
For the next setup, we moved the right light back to focus on the back right corner of the LiteIgloo, matching the angle of the light on the left side. We checked focus and shot our results images.
For the last setup we moved the left light back to front at a 45-degree angle. But this time we lowered the light so that it was level with the bottom edge of the LiteIgloo. We then tipped the light up about 15 to 20 degrees. For the right light, we left it in the same position, but we raised it up to about five feet and tipped it down to focus on the top back edge of the LiteIgloo.
In our final results, we have arrived at the best solution for this subject. The light from the left is giving us much the same highlight we had in our second setup, yet with added control. By lowering the light down we have created a fall off of light on the spurs giving them more shape. And raising the back right light we have created a clean background with the bonus of creating a highlight on the top edge of both spurs adding to the depth and dimension of the subject.
Shooting for Background Knockouts
Included with the First Studio Product Kit is a chromakey blue sweep. When used in conjunction with specialized masking programs, subjects shot on the chromakey sweep can be easily extracted from the background and placed in other images or into a photomontage.
You install the chromakey sweep as you would the white sweep, again you may need to steam or press the sweep to remove the creases incurred in shipping. Once we had the sweep prepped, we placed it in the LiteIgloo and set our new subject on the surface.
For our first setup, we placed the lights at 90 degrees from the right and left with the lights centered on the side panels of the LiteIgloo. We checked our exposure, focused, and shot our results set.
For our next setup, we moved the left light to the right side of the set and placed it so that it focused the light on the top and right panel. We moved the right light forward so that it focused on the front of the right panel. Again we checked our focus and shot a set of results (figures 58-60).
Here we see that with both the lights on the right side of the set, the shape of the bottle is better; it feels much more round. And we have carried the highlight all the way down the right side of the subject.
Below we show a couple examples of what can be done with the subject once you have applied a masking program.
To review our steps we will repeat the set shots and the final image for each set up with both lights on. Both lights at 90 degrees with the light focused on the right and left side panels.
Both lights at 45 degrees from the front with the light raised a few inches and focused on the right and left corners.
The left light moved to the back focusing on the back left corner, and the right light remains in the same position.
Both lights moved to the back of the LiteIgloo focused on the right and left corners.
The left light moved to the front left corner, lowered and tipped up to allow the light fall off a little across the LiteIgloo. The right light lifted up to about five feet and tipped down to focus on the backside of the top panel.
For our shot of the wine bottle, both lights at 90 degrees focused on the right and left panels of the LiteIgloo.
Left light moved to the right, focused on the right and top panels, and the left light moved forward focused on the front of the right panel.
As you can see taking great shots can be a snap when you can control the environment. The LiteIgloo gives you that control.
Set up and tear down take no time at all, we set up the First Studio Product Kit including the enclosure, the stands, the lights, and the camera in about five minutes. We spent about five minutes ironing the sweep and arranging the spurs. Then we spent about fifteen minutes shooting and arranging the lights for our examples and another ten minutes downloading and evaluating the shots we took. Then we packed up all the gear and were ready to go. The entire process took about 40 minutes.
So whether you have one or two shots to do, or you want to shoot a catalog or images for your web site, the First Studio Product Kit by Photoflex offers all the stuff you need and takes up very little space.