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Sprouting like dandelions...
Old 06-03-2007, 08:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Now that the warm summer season is here (it finally reached this Northern midwest area), the dandelions and yard sales are in full bloom.

So what you say... Well, if you are innovative and frugral, you can get lots of good cheap stuff for your photographic endeavors at yard sales.

First of all, clothes. In my wanderings through myriad yard sales, I've stumbled across lots of fancy ladies designer clothes, many times still bearing the original price tags. It seems what looked so appealing in the store often turns out to be a bit more than bargained for when viewed in the privacy of one's home. Everything from fur jackets to Victoria's Secret lingerie shows up at yard sales, usually for pennies on the dollar.

Furniture. I have about half a dozen chairs of various types. Everything from a ladder back chair to a director's chair. All bought for $5 or less at yard sales. I've also got several large old wooden boxes of various sizes, big enough to sit or stand on. How about an old fashioned trunk or a suitcase... always a useful prop.

Camera gear. Digital cameras have been around long enough to have gone through several generations.
I've found pretty decent point and shoot digital cameras with 3 or 4 megabyte image capability for a few bucks. It's not going to replace your big DSLR, but it's a nice carry around and backup camera. The main effect of digital has been to make a big dent in film camera sales and use. With film cameras relegated to closets and bureau drawers, occasionally a few show up in sales. No, you're not likely to find a Nikon F6 just yet, but there are SLR's and lenses showing up.

Odds and ends. Okay, this is where your innovative nature and willingness to experiment come in. If you're one of those types who have to have the commercial version of whatever you need, you can skip this. Just go spend the big bucks for all those photo related bits and pieces. The Photo Marketing Association loves ya.

But if you can live with a little duct tape, you can duplicate the function of many of the expensive photo toys for a little effort and a handful of pennies. Let's talk about some stuff you might find at yard sales.

Fabric. A piece of colorful fabric hung on a wall makes a great background, and it's way easier to deal with than seamless paper. You can wash it! Look for wrinkle free sheets in various colors and textures. Satin sheets are always useful. Ever shoot in a hotel room? You know the bedspread is usually ugly with a capital U. And how about the couch. My favorite was a green and yellow striped monster. A nice dark brown or black sheet hides the ugly easily.

Slide projectors. Slide projectors are useful as light sources. The lenses allow you to create a sharply defined area of light or a directional beam. Think hairlight. Projector screens, especially clean white ones, are useful as reflectors. Even if the screen is not white, or is torn, the stand can be used as a light support stand with a little modification. Price range for screens... usually $5 or less. There are also the home depot lights and various other types of fixtures that can be adapted. Track lighting units are pretty neat and are sometimes focusable.

Music stands. Ever need a small stand for a background light? How about using a music stand. They'll also hold white foamcore cards as reflectors for portrait work. I'm building a tri-flector around an old music stand. Cost of the commercial tri-flector - about $200; my version, about $15.

Reflectors. Ever see the fold up silver foil window reflectors used in cars during the summer. Works just the same as the reflector you'd pay $50 or more for in a camera store. Cost at a yard sale - typically you get two for a buck or two...

There's all sorts of stuff that can be adapted for photography with a little effort and it's usually as effective as the commercial stuff.

You just never know what will show up on a yard sale table. I'm still looking for a Leica M... it's out there somewhere.


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Re: Sprouting like dandelions...
Old 06-03-2007, 09:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I do the yard sale circuit also and find neat photo props, etc. from time to time. But primarily I'm looking for stuff to sell on ebay --- mostly old childrens series books (Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, etc). A $1 book at a garage sale, may go for $100 on ebay if you know what to look for. Then that money can be spent for photo props, cameras lens, etc. Bought my Sigma 70-200 F2.8 with money from just one sale of books on ebay.
Cheers,
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Re: Sprouting like dandelions...
Old 06-03-2007, 11:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I think that these suggestions fit well within the philosphy of GG or G1...namely doing things on the cheap. Now, I don't mean cheap or shoddy images but rather saving yourself as many bucks as possible.

I hadn't thought of looking for satin sheets or Victoria's secret lingerie and I'm sure I'd get a few raised eyebrows (especially if I ask if they have anything in my size...LOL) but that does seem like a great idea. I'm just not so sure how to get that by the wife though.
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Re: Sprouting like dandelions...
Old 06-05-2007, 12:17 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RHWeiner View Post
I hadn't thought of looking for satin sheets or Victoria's secret lingerie and I'm sure I'd get a few raised eyebrows (especially if I ask if they have anything in my size...LOL) but that does seem like a great idea. I'm just not so sure how to get that by the wife though.
You bring up an important point. If you are going looking for the odd bit of feminine attire to complete the images you visualize, you best take a crash course in women's sizes.

A man's shirt is measured by the neck size and sleeve length. Logical.

Women's are... well, there's small, medium, large, petite, grande, misses, juniors, and a few other's I can't recall at the moment. Usually, a small is typically for a woman with a 34 to 36 inch bust. But one designer's small may be equivalent to another's medium. Makes it interesting. And it explains why women can take all day shopping for even the simpliest of stuff.

As for the embarrasment factor, believe me it dissipates in a hurry when you stumble on a like new $150 bustier from VS with a "$1 or best offer" sticker on it....

As for wives, ahhhh, this is a glamour forum and if you haven't settled that issue, good luck!

Or if you luck out, your wife will be about the same size as most of your models.

Me, I'm into denim: form fitting shirts especially western cuts, vests, bustiers, bikini tops, etc... Sometimes you can cheat the size with a safety pin or clothes pin hidden in the back, just like the big boys in NYC do. The thing about denim is there are variations in the color and weight so you really need to have a selection available if you're trying to match the model's jeans.

Let me tell you about designer boots... pristine Gucci knee-high stilleto heel, buttery-soft, high fashion jobies with a $400 price tag for $3. Yep, in fact, several pairs in different colors... Stuff like that is out there, all ya gotta do is look.
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