In this tutorial we’ll show you a creative way to make a calendar from your own photos. We’ll show you how to plan, shoot and then edit your images to make your own personalised calendar for 2014.
Personalised calendars make a nice change from the typical commercial fare, and they make great gifts too – so why not create your own calendar, using portraits of family or friends, for 2014?
In this tutorial we’ll show you how you can use a simple lighting setup and backdrop to create your own home studio – and by using props and costumes you can create different themes to represent the 12 months of the year.
Once you’ve taken your shots, we’ll show you how to spruce up the images in Photoshop Elements. We’ll then show you how to create your calendar using Elements’ templates, and customise the design by adding frames, text and graphics.
Of course, you don’t have to shoot a set of portraits specially for your calendar – many photos of family members and friends can end up buried on our hard drives, never to be seen again, so you might want to dig out a dozen old snaps and use those instead, or use your summer holiday photos.
You can either print your calendar on your own home printer, or use an online printing service – and if you’re quick enough, it’ll be ready in time for Christmas!
How to make a calendar from your own photos
1. Home studio setup
You’ll need a spacious room to set up your lights and backdrop – if you don’t have a white backdrop you can use a plain light-coloured wall. For the best results you’ll need a studio flash kit, which will typically include two flash heads complete with light stands and cables, plus umbrellas and/or a softbox.
2. Set up the lights
Set up the flash heads on the stands and position them at roughly 45 degrees to your subjects to light them from the front and sides. Our flash kit came with a shoot-through umbrella and a softbox, which we fitted to both flash heads to soften the light. Connect the lights to your camera with the cables supplied.
3. Camera settings
Switch your camera to Manual for full control over the exposure. We set an aperture of f/8 for optimum lens performance, and to ensure our subjects would be in sharp focus. We then set a shutter speed of 1/160 sec, and adjusted the power of the main flash heads to give a good exposure – the flash head with the soft box was on half-power, and the head with the shoot-through umbrella was on quarter-power.
4. Lights, camera, action!
Set your lens to autofocus, fire off a few test shots with your models to check your exposure, and adjust the flash heads’ power if required. Shoot with your subjects positioned in the centre of the frame; don’t worry about background shadows, as we’ll be cleaning up the backdrops at the editing stage. Take a few different shots for each outfit/theme, so you’ve got a variety of images to choose from.
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