The inexpensive and extremely versatile foam core board is a must have tool for the discerning photographer. It comes in various colors and sizes, though white and black are most used. It can be used in a multitude of shooting scenarios, and the best part is that it’s incredibly cheap. This video by DSLR Video Shooter details the benefits and uses of foam boards:
The foam core board is known by many names. Foam core, poster board, cardboard, foam board, and so on and so forth. Whatever name you want to call them, the fact remains that these boards are a must have tool. There are many different ways to use them.
1. Fill Source
White foam core is unilaterally used for this purpose (as a fill source). A fill source, as the name suggests, reflects the main light source back onto the scene, filling in the shadows.
In the above side by side comparison, the subject’s right side (camera left) of the face is filled in by a white foam core (left image). When the foam core is removed, the left side of the subject’s face becomes noticeably darker (right image).
The same technique (filling in a subject using foam core) can be used beyond portrait photography. As is shown in the image above, this technique can be used to shoot product photography as well.
Another good example of the use of foam core is when it is used as a bounce source. To use foam core as a bounce, mount a white sheet of it above the subject. Now bounce one or two lights, depending on your setup, straight toward the white foam core.
The light will be reflected and therefore diffused and soft.
Foam core can be used as a flag by mounting it on a light stand using an A-clamp or asking an assistant to hold it. The idea is to hold it out to block light from falling onto whatever it is falling. Flags are commonly used to prevent light from spilling onto the background or the subject’s body when taking low key images.
Foam core is commonly used as a background. This is easy to set up and produces great results in a quick and effective way. Simply place the foam core behind the subject.
5. Creating Cookies
Create an interesting lighting pattern for your product or portrait shoot by cutting various shapes into a large piece of foam core. Then fire your lights through it.
What other uses do you have for foam core?
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