Outdoor Photography Tips 48 - Stripping the background.

Here we are in September and the Fall temps are beginning to break. I am expecting some more hot weather here in this region of California before the actual Fall season settles in. But the rewarding part of this extended warmth is the fact that many Summer residents are still active.

I recently had the inclination to design a piece of photo gear that I could take into the field with me that would enable me to capture close-up images by eliminating some of the unwanted background distractions. Thus making use of the extra time with Summer critters.

Most of the time, I enjoy having the specific organism working within its own habitat. But on some occasions, just having your eye focusing on the specific subject and its natural beauty seems to work right into my line of thought.

So how do I construct an image like that? One of the ways is by using the newest creation of mine " the light stripper". It consists of some very easy to acquire parts and provides me the instant ability to pull out the subject for close inspection.

The basic skeleton for the unit comes from two 10" shelf brackets. These are attached to a 200mm Arca style quick release bracket. This ensures the unit can be set up on a tripod within a couple of minutes. A single piece of steel strap joins the two tops of the brackets, thus enabling the unit to hold a piece of translucent vellum.

Two articulating arms are attached to the brackets via the screw holes in the bracket itself. These are then extended behind the vellum and an electronic flash head is attached to cast light from behind. These flash heads eliminate shadows cast from the flash that is attached to the front of the camera.

Both heads are set to Slave from the flash on the camera, but I can also run a PC sync cable to the units when it requires it.

I can now travel about with the "Light Stripper" on a tripod and place anything I would like to photograph on this small stage. And with previous test exposure results, I can capture images that are both properly exposed, but also free from any unwanted background.

The illustration below shows how the unit is constructed. There are no shadows from below as one of the flash heads illuminates the subject from the underside.

It is a simple device, but I think any of you willing to spend a bit of time tinkering in the shop will find this quite useful. Hope you have some great success with this project. And as always, Happy Shooting.

Can you finding the hiding lizard in the photo below?

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