Nov 20 2008
In part 1 of “Using you Monitor as a Light Source”, I looked at replacing your existing light sources with your computer monitor by displaying various colors to act as “gels”.
This time we’re going to push it a step further. We’re actually going to be using our monitor as the background! This opens up a ton of possibilities but it also has it’s limits as well. The main limit is the size of your monitor. So this limits the size of the object in front of it. But if you have a 52 inch LCD TV, you could plug your computer in it!
Like I mentioned in part 1, you’ll need a tripod since your monitor’s brightness isn’t… well… that bright. This means long exposures. Also, use a remote trigger to prevent camera shake.
What are you going to put on your background? The only limit is your imagination really. It could be a solid color, a Photoshop texture or graphic, or another photo. Try different things and have fun! You can even create the illusion of shallow DOF (depth of field) by blurring your background in Photoshop.
Ok, now that we’re all set up, let’s take some shots!
The first thing you need to remember is to expose for your background so take some test shots before adding your subject. Once that’s done place your object in front of your monitor. If your object is made of glass your photo could look something like this:
© Jodie Coston
If your object is opaque, it will be in silhouette since the monitor also acts as a backlight. It can give something like this:
So the next logical step would be to light our main subject. Remember that your monitor with reflect light so your light source should be placed at least at a 45 degree angle, if not more. Do some test shots to get it right. To push the monitor light source concept to the extreme, you could even use a second monitor to light your subject! Here is the same image lit with an SB-800 set on TTL and mounted with a Gary Fong Lightsphere at around 60 degrees on camera left:
Ursula even had the bright idea to have the Microsoft screen saver “Mystify” running with a 5 second exposure! What a cool effect!
Once you start using your monitor as a background, you won’t be able to stop!
I would like to conclude with a few other shots from great photographers who used their imagination to get some uniques images! Enjoy!
I would like to give a special thanks to all the photographers who graciously lent their beautiful images for this photography tutorial.
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