A Little Photographic DIY

It was out on the town again yesterday for Suki’s week 27 image for my 52 week project. This week I wanted to try adding an accent light into the mix, one that would provide some highlights around Suki and give the impression that she is being lit from behind by background elements. You can see a hint of this effect in the image above. Snoots are great for this. But I realized before we headed out that I don’t have a snoot for my speedlights! So I constructed my own snoot out of the finest of materials:

Here it is. Made of solid, 100% magazine paper, sealed at the seams with ultra-high-strength scotch tape and costing me a whopping fraction of a penny, this rig was placed behind Suki in the photo of her above. The snoot concentrated the light into a tight beam. Instead of spreading all over, the light just hits her back side and appears as highlights around the edges of her fur. It sort of gives the illusion that the headlight from the cable car behind her is lighting her. It’s a subtle detail for sure, but it definitely adds a great element to the image.

Here’s an example of the way a snoot shapes the light coming out of a flash head.

You can even shape the front end a little to create a sliver of light like so.

The biggest challenge for this last shoot was actually the crowds of people around us as we worked. We were approached constantly by people wanting to meet Suki and ask questions about her. Gathering in small crowds around us, they would step in and try to meet her between takes. Amazingly, she was able to focus despite all the distraction.

After all that work, it was time for a leisurely stroll through the Embaracero Center in San Francisco. I enjoyed a cappuccino while Suki sniffed every corner of the area. Such a great area of the city for photographs!

Camera Specs for top image: Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-135 f/2.8 @ 125mm f/4, 1/80 second ISO640. (Aperture priority -0.3EV)  SB-900 through softbox camera left (TTL +1.7EV) SB-800 snooted behind subject (SU-4 optical slave, 1/8 power).

Bottom Image: Nikon D300s + Nikkor DX 10.5mm fisheye

8 thoughts on “A Little Photographic DIY

  1. You’ve got some fantastic shots of your beautiful dog!

    I created some snoots using 12″x18″ black foam sheets that you can buy for roughly $1/sheet from Michael’s or most other arts & crafts stores.


    I was able to cut each sheet down and get 2 snoots per sheet. I made 6″ and 9″ lengths. All you have to do is cut the sheet down and glue the overlap on the tube. I used Gorilla Glue. They work great! I’ll be happy to forward you some pics if you’re interested.

    1. Hey thanks for the tip! Think I might give that a try next time. Should hold up better than my last-minute snoot, which is in the recycling bin now. =)

      Thanks for the comments everyone!

  2. I guess Suki-chan is now a popular star in SF? ;))
    I love how she is with the cable car behind. It really conveys the atmosphere of the town! Hmmm, すごい!素敵^^

    1. Thanks! Actually, I’ve been thinking of including more recognizable elements of San Francisco into the next few photos of Suki. We’ll see how it goes! =)

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