Shooting with a projector with an easy and simple diversification of your creativity. With it, you can project any images onto the model and background. So from a simple picture on a plain background in a couple of seconds you can get a photo that will cause a wow effect in the viewer. All you need is a laptop, pre-selected pictures, a plain background and a projector.
We explain how to properly prepare for shooting with a projector, what you need to consider and how to set up the camera and the projector itself so that everything works out exactly.
Shooting with a projector in the studio
— Choose pictures for shooting with a projector in good resolution. If they are small, then instead of a beautiful pattern, torn pixel “blots” will crawl across the model.
— Please note that the pattern will cover the model completely. If the picture from the projector is too dark or fine-textured, “dirty”, the face will be hard to see. Prepare for the fact that the model or the projector will have to be shifted relative to each other, choosing a good projection.
— The backgrounds for shooting with a projector can be anything, but in order for the hero to be well read, images where there is not a huge amount of detail and there is “air” — empty textureless spaces are suitable. For example, inscriptions, numbers, hieroglyphs, lines on a plain background. Landscapes, buildings, flowers, sky are also suitable. These are not axioms, but only ideas — experiment!
— Ask the model to wear plain clothes without colorful prints. The main focus should be on the image of the projector, and an image that is too contrasty will distract the viewer’s attention and create visual “dirt”.
— When shooting with a projector, it is better to take fast lenses, as the power of the projector may be low. Suitable optics with an aperture value of f / 2.8 and below — f / 2, f / 1.8, f / 1.4, f / 1.2. The lower the value, the more poor lighting conditions the lens can work.
— Often the projector is the only light on the set. Third-party pulsed or constant sources with high power will not work here. Their light will interrupt the glow of the projector, make the picture faded and inexpressive. Remember how the picture in the cinema dimmed when the lights were turned on in the credits in the hall. The same thing awaits us here.
So get ready to shoot at higher ISOs. It will have to be raised to at least 400–800 if you shoot with a fast lens. If the lens is not fast, then the ISO will rise above 1000. This is bad, because it threatens the appearance of noise in the picture.
It will simplify the task and allow you not to bully the ISO of a high-power projector. It is believed that when working with multiple light sources, a projector with a capacity of 3500 lumens or more is suitable. For example, the INFOCUS IN116BB projector has a power of 3800 lumens.
But even a high power projector does not guarantee that you can safely add light and start shooting without thinking. The strength of additional sources will have to be selected so that it matches the strength of the projector’s glow. Then you will highlight the model, and the drawing on it will be clearly visible.
— The projector also has a sharpness setting. Be sure to adjust it, otherwise the projected picture will be blurry. To do this, smoothly rotate the focus control on the projector until you see the desired result. Everything is like with a lens on a camera in manual focus mode.
— As an experiment, try projecting the image onto a textured background — curtains, a brick wall, a curved surface, draperies.
— You can project a picture not only on a model. If you put a projector behind the hero, you can create absolutely any background without using chroma key and without spending hours on post-processing! And you don’t have to think about how the pattern lies on the model, whether it disfigures the face, whether it is clear to read.
At the same time, the model can be illuminated with any additional light, without fear that the studio light will drown out the projector. The main thing is that the power of the projector and other light should be approximately equal, and also that the light intended for the model should fall on the background as little as possible.
— The projector has a parameter — flicker frequency. Because of it, photos may not be obtained at too fast shutter speeds. Focus on a shutter speed of 1/60 second or 1/30 for budget projector models.
— Shooting with a projector should take place in a dark room, since even the overhead light in the room will greatly reduce the brightness of the projected image. Get ready that you may have to switch to manual focus mode — in the dark, the camera may simply not catch the model.
— Cheap projectors give chromatic aberrations in projected pictures. These are colored outlines on contrasting parts of the image.
The effect is easily eliminated when converting the source to Camera RAW in Photoshop. It is enough to go to the “Distortion correction” tab and check the “Remove chromatic aberrations” checkbox — the program will discolor the color borders by itself.
— The larger the projection should be, the farther from the wall you need to place the projector. Sometimes for a correct result, the projector must stand 3–6 meters from the background and beyond. Therefore, if you shoot in a photo studio, the larger the room, the better.
— The projector can replace Gobo masks and many other lighting effects for you! For example, simulate any shadow, spotlight beam, light falling through the blinds or a window with a frame.
— In order for the projector to display an image, you need not only a laptop with images prepared in advance, but also an HDMI cable or an adapter that will connect the devices. Keep this in mind when preparing to shoot.
Now there are also models that even have Wi-Fi, which allows you to remotely control the device and transfer images.
Conclusions. Checklist for the parameters of the projector and camera for shooting
— When choosing a projector for shooting, pay attention to what resolution it is capable of delivering. The optimal value is from 1920x1080, like the Epson EH-TW740 projector, and higher.
— The second important parameter of the projector is its power in lumens. If you do not have fast technology, take from 3500 lumens and above. For example, the InFocus IN119HDg projector with a power of 3800 lumens. The pro option is heavy duty projectors with a luminous flux of over 5,000 lumens. With such devices, you can not be afraid to shoot with powerful pulsed and constant light — the projection brightness will not overlap.
— Use fast lenses that will allow you to get a bright picture even with low-power projectors. The ideal aperture value is 1.2, 1.4, 1.8, but not lower than 2.8. It is always written on the lens.
— The weaker the light output of the projector, the higher the ISO will be. When shooting with weak projectors with a power of less than 3000 ISO lumens, you will have to set more than 1000, and with powerful projectors, the working range will be ISO 400–800 and less.
— In order for the image to be projected correctly and not to turn into flickering stripes on the background and model, focus on shutter speeds in the region of 1/30 — 1/60 of a second.
If you’re going to shoot at home or in your own studio, check out our detailed guide on choosing a projector.