For the secretary image above, it became obvious that a simple gray background would not be enough. Using a simple set of Venetian blinds and one Nikon SB-28, a cool window was made.
All I had to do to create a window effect was to cast “the reverse” of the blinds openings onto the gray seamless paper, on the back wall of the image. The viewers mind is tricked into seeing a long shadow cast from an open window, splashing its’ light onto the back wall.
I also staged several SB-28’s around the outside of the scene to add some pop and detail to the typewriter and the fan. I (again) used grids and snoots on the flash heads to make sure that no extra light contaminated the desk top or model.
I like the overall images from this entire session. Bottom line is that we both had a lot of fun and we both came out of the shoot with what we wanted. She got some really fun portraits of herself and I now have some new stock images!
Anything will work in a pinch. Often times I will use plants to get really cool backgrounds. Simple plastic water bottles are used sometimes, with cool results. Try out different combinations of everyday items and notice how much more interesting things get. You are limited only by the limits of your own creativity.
If you are seeking a sharp shadow detail with your found objects, place them at about half of the distance between the flash and the background. For a softer contrast between light and shadow, place the found object closer to the flash. The closer the found objects are to the background the sharper the contrast will be. The rest is a matter of turning the intensity of the flash up or down, and situating the found objects into the way of the flash in order to cast it where you want it to appear in the image.