There are a lot of budget-friendly things around your house or even at your local print shop that will easily help to improve your photography. Today we will be discussing one of the most common of them all which is known as foam core. For those of you who are not sure as to what a foam core is, it can be easily explained. Foam core is pretty much a fairly strong, lightweight material that is often used to build miniature models of homes, mount prints, and photographs. This material is very cheap and can easily be found at any store that caters to printing and photography. It can be found in different colors and cut into any shape you wish. However, it is commonly purchased in the color white and often remains in a square or rectangular shape for use. In this article, I will be giving you just a few of the many ways this cheap but durable material can help to improve your photography game.
As mentioned earlier, the foam core is usually purchased in a white color and this serves as one of those many reasons. Anything with a white surface, whether it be a shirt, building or piece of paper tends to bounce light or make it soft. As a result of that, you find where photographers like myself use foam core for the main purpose of bouncing light. It doesn’t do too much but gets the job done just right to get a nice even distribution of light on whatever you’re shooting. This has helped me more than a few times when it comes to product photography which we will discuss further on in this article. When the foam core is placed against any window or in front of a flash you will find where it helps to fill dark spots in your images very easily and eliminate those annoying shadows.
Speaking of dark spots and how foam core can help to fill those dark spots, brings me to my next point. Subjects are not always evenly lit and as a result, you have a light sourcing hitting one side of the subject but creating dark shadows on the opposite end. This can pretty much be a huge headache, especially in studio photography when you only have one light source but would like to have your subject evenly lit throughout the image. This problem can now easily be fixed by placing a foam core relative in size to your subject across from the light source. It will now effectively bounce light and eliminate the dark areas on the other end of your subject and just like that, you have a well-lit photo.
In addition to all the amazing things this durable material can do, it also serves a simple purpose. As mentioned earlier it comes many different colors which give it the flexibility to be used also as a background for product shots. Portrait photography might be a bit tricky as it relates to having the right size but when it comes to things such as food and product photography it comes in handy pretty well.
A lot of photographers only think about the use of white foam core but often forget the creative advantages of using other colors such as white. When working with natural light we are often not in control as to the volume or amount the sun will give us on any given day. As a result, we have to improvise and do our best manipulate the light we have at our disposal. Black foam core helps in situations where the light source may be just a bit too harsh for the photo and you need some of it to be absorbed and not bounced. I have found where this helps especially in food photography where the light source was a bit too much and for a softer more pleasing photo, some of the light had to be absorbed. The black foam core can also be used to block light where necessary while helping to create a flag. A flag is essentially controlling how light spreads onto a subject.
Last but not least I consider this probably one of the many fun things a foam core can be used for on a shoot and probably my personal favorite. Foam cores can easily be cut into with a box cutter or probably a really sharp knife. As a child, I remember using scissors to cut shapes of a heart or triangles in the paper for arts and craft. Well, the same Idea can be applied here while bringing out your inner child. While being creative, you can easily cut different shapes into your foam core then placing it in front of a light source to create a sculpted shadow effect onto your subject.
I hope these tips have helped to become an asset to your day to day photography skills. Until next time, thank you for stopping by!