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Studio Build Blog - Day 2 - Photographer turns plumber...

Welcome to day 2 - I turn plumber, and we get our first customer (sort of).

 After the blog post yesterday, my father called and asked if I could do another passport-type photo for my sister. Sis is off to Australia for a translating job (Japanese), and they need a 2x2" (45mmx45mm) head-and-shoulders, nothing covering face, no glasses, flat lighting blah, blah... I agreed to do it at 11, thinking I'll need that time to sort things out so we have space and get the lights up. 

Painter is coming at 3 to finish windows, too, so it's going to be busy. Julie's not coming in today as she has a friend visiting and we agreed that since it's mostly DIY work today it's a bit pointless for her. Tomorrow she's going to start learning on the flash gear; Julie has always been a natural light photographer (and very good too, better than me) but we need her to adapt to studio lighting for what we're going to do, and I need to learn more from her about how she does the more artistic stuff.

So, put up the Lastolite HiLite background - a great piece of kit for high key stuff, because you just put a light in it and as long as you keep it controlled so there's not too much spill, you get a perfect high key background without having to build an infinity cove or similar. Ideal for when you're only 1/2 way through a studio setup!

Decide to use the big octobox and a shoot-through umbrella, with a reflector to bounce a bit under the chin. A bit complex for a simple shot, but it's more that this is the basic lights setup I want to start Julie using on Weds, so it kills two birds with one stone. Anyway, showing off to the family is a sort of tradition for us!

Light setup

After setting this up, have a good look at the sink and surrounding pipework. The previous occupants ran a lab, so there's a lot of pipework capped off for their former machinery...except it's not; one bit is leaking as there's no stop end and it's only closed off by a ball valve, there's some sort of leak from the sink waste and there's a continuous trickle from a pipe into the waste. 

Look at the curtain poles, thinking I can at least get the brackets up, but realise I can't see how they mount. When I check online, there are brackets we should have bought, but we missed them. After losing some more tooth enamel grinding my teeth, I put that to one side as customer is coming in so poles and sink will have to wait...

Emily, father and stepmother (Ems is my half sister, and is 30 years younger than me, lucky lass), arrive a bit late. Brief chat about what's going on and get her in front of light. First shot nasty shadow, fill light hasn't fired. Look at it and realise it's still on standby (haven't had time to set up the computer control yet!), fix that and second shot nails it. Okay, it's a passport photo, but it's output:

Emily shot 

Have to return to house because I've not moved printer in yet to print the image - it's still too damp down there for paper storage, the dehumidifier is removing pints each day. Hoping I can start bringing things in by evening as there should be no more additions to humidity now rain has let up and we've finished cleaning.

Drop image round to Ems, rush to Ikea to get brackets... They don't have enough. There are two black ones out, endless grey and white, and their stock shows 88 black ones but they can't find them (probably why we missed them too!). Buy the two black ones and two grey, they will do for the door curtain which won't be visible on images.

Get back and have a serious look at the plumbing. It's clear that we need at least a stopend for the one dripping pipe, but I can't work out why there is a continuous drip into the waste from above the heater... Turn on the tap and see where the big waste leak is coming from - some Muppet has removed something that had a drain (dishwasher I'd guess given the previous occupants) and not stopped the dirty great big hole in the waste where it fitted! More lost tooth enamel as painter arrives....

Chat with painter, he rents a unit on the site too and is called on by Council to do lots of odd jobs. He's miffed about the state of the paint job he left on Saturday, we conclude that someone must have opened windows in the storm we had to allow this much stuff to get onto it. While he's working, he gives me directions to a local plumbing place I've not been before to get the bits I need to sort out the sink.

Come back, remove all the redundant pipework and tidy it all up. There's a pressure gauge and valve in the circuit, so have a close read of the instructions for the water heater which explains why, and also explains why there's a continuous trickle - that's the relief valve for the expansion of the heater, and the water pressure needs to be kept low; obviously someone's fiddled with the valve! Adjust it and the water stops trickling, but I do note that with the pipework as it was before I started there should also have been an expansion chamber in the circuit; I'll check with the landlord when I get chance. Sort out the waste too; although I had to buy an new waste to get the bit I needed.... Ah well, it wasn't a big cost.

Painter leaves, and I carefully sort the blinds so I can close them before leaving, making sure I don't get his paint on them. Looking good for a better day tomorrow!

 Incidentally, apologies; I'm running a day behind with the blog. I'll try and do two postings tomorrow, he says tempting fate...