Take Better Shots!

With the right equipment and guidance, you can take professional-looking slides at home in your own makeshift photo studio. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Camera. The 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) camera with a manual exposure control and a built-in light meter is the best for your purposes. You need to be able to adjust the shutter speed, which is expressed in fractions of a second, and the shutter opening (aperture), expressed as an f-stop, such as f/8 or f/16.
  • Lenses. The standard 50 or 55mm lens often supplied with 35mm cameras is fine for photographing most artwork, although a close-up “macro” lens is an option.
  • Tripod. You’ll need a sturdy, fully adjustable tripod to support the camera and keep it exactly in place for precise focusing and framing.
  • Cable Release. This flexible cord attaches to the camera and allows you to trip the shutter by pressing a plunger on the other end without touching the camera.
  • Lighting. You’ll need two photoflood lights with two 10- to 12-inch reflectors, which cup the bulbs and direct the light. You can mount your lights on ladders or furniture, or purchase adjustable light stands that give you more control over light positioning. Finally, you’ll need bulbs for your lights, preferably bought in pairs. (When one burns out, replace both; otherwise, one light may be brighter or a slightly different color from the other.)
  • Film. Buy slide film designed to match your lights, preferably a tungsten-balanced film with an ISO or ASA (film speed) of 50.
  • Gray Cards. By taking the light reading from an 8×10, middle-valued gray card, the camera will indicate the correct exposure setting.

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