Saturday, October 16, 2010

An Experiment in Lighting...

When I first started my blog, while I knew better, I was taking pictures of my goods on top of a washing machine - it was white, and in a brightly lit room in the house. Of course, then I started floating around to all the other fabulous blogs out there, and decided to stop being so lazy.

So next, I put some white paper down on a cupboard in front of a white wall in a relatively well lit room, close to a window for a natural light source, as recommended by so many. This worked well in the summer months, when the days were nice and bright, as well as long!

But as the days are getting shorter, and the light quality is changing, my photos are getting more and more yellow, muted, and frankly, bad.

I was cruising around earlier last week, and landed on KWerner Designs. While browsing her site (lots of great info, and beautiful cards and scrapbook pages!), I stumbled upon an FAQ, one of which asked how she photographed her cards. Her setup was so simple, and so effective. Then I remembered seeing a post on Carly Robertson's blog about how she photographed her cards, and she showed her very beautiful, very fancy, very effective light tent.

This got my frugal (CHEAP!) side thinking... there has to be a way I can create this on my own, without dropping a ton of money. My brother is a budding photographer, and I've picked up a tip or 2 from him over the years... so I put what he had taught me together with what I found when I googled "Homemade light box", and went to work. It took me about 20 minutes in total to build, added on to the hour it took to buy the supplies. The longest part was testing different backgrounds and taking lots of photos to make sure I knew what I liked.

So here is what my light box looks like:

You can see from the top that I was a bit short on my foam core, but it actually doesn't effect the photos (I was a little concerned it would throw off a blue hue - and when I initially used this as my bottom with white paper, it showed through, which is how it became the top). 

Here is what it looks like with my light lit:

It's very basic - create a box that will catch your light and reflect it back onto your object, so that you don't suffer the effects of direct light.

I bought 2 poster sized pieces of foam core at the dollar store; I should have bought three. I bought this clip-on light from Home Depot for $15, and 2 Daylight bulbs equivalent to 100W (compact florescent) for $10 - only because I couldn't find singles - so $5 for the bulb. Because I had the backdrop paper and the duct tape, those were free!

I made my box approximately 18" x 18" - I could have used another inch or 2, but didn't really have the room... I just cut 5 equal pieces, then taped the seams with duct tape. I hung white paper as my backdrop initially, however, I wasn't completely thrilled with it, so I went for the warmth of the brown package paper. Claire, at Waltzingmouse uses this, and I have always loved the cozy feeling it gives her whole blog!

The whole project cost about $28 in total, and would be even cheaper for you US ladies, I am sure, because I am guessing the Home Depot trip would cost you a lot less! You'll see this new photo format in action, starting tomorrow! I wonder what you'll think?

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1 comment:

Ted said...

Meredith, I really like your set-up. Let me ask a few questions (you can contact me at the PTI forums to answer them (if you wish)) :)

1. I can't see where you clip the light to? Is it to an edge of the box?

2. Can this be "taken down" and set back up? Or do you just keep it up all the time?

3. Would you be willing to do a comparison of the white paper hung down and the brown paper? I've never thought about using brown... but I can see it works out okay. :) A comparison of the same item photographed with both backdrops would be wonderful! :)

Thanks so much!


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