Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lightbox WITHOUT a box!!!

I was planning on making a light box last night to retake my jewelry pictures and so we went to the store (also to buy groceries for our completely bare refridgerator).

I got 2 GE Halogen 100 floodlights in the lightbulb section at Walmart for $8.00

A couple rows down in the auto section, I got 2 Bayco Super Grip Clamp lights for $11 a piece. So, that's around $30....

I got home, and was planning on making a lightbox using THIS tutorial. But, I forgot the white board and really wanted to try out my lights right away.

So I went ahead and set up a little "studio". I had the background papers under the lights and to the left, my jewelry laid out and props for the photos.

I clamped one light to a lamp stand facing my paper display (I took off the shade to make it easier to work around), and clamped the other light to a chair rail so that it would be directly overhead the jewelry piece. For the background, I stacked up some bead boxes and layed my cardstock on it for a seamless look.

I layered several colors and designs of paper on top of each other so that I could easily pull one out from under the jewelry to experiment with a new background.

For this particular picture, I held the necklace with my hand under the light (caution VERY hot) so it would dangle... next time, I will wrap the chain around a stick or pencil or something, because I really would rather not burn my hand. But for the other necklaces, I just draped the clasp of the necklace behind the paper so that it would lay right in a semi upward position, like in the below picture. If the necklace slides, either tape the chain to the back of the paper, or cut 2 slits in the top of the paper to insert the chain in.

Some of the pictures still have circular shadows, since I didn't use a light box, but I just moved the paper around so that the pendant part would be directly under the light. I only used 2 lights, but I think adding a third toward the back would make even less shadows, it may also blind you! It's very neat how just tilting the lights just an inch or so can affect the lighting so drastically. I don't have photoshop or anything, just a simple editing tool that I really only used to crop. But there are plenty out there you can either purchase or download for free. See this blog post to learn more about those programs and other great photography tips.

Don't forget to have fun with props!!

I was using open books as surface props, but I ran into problems such as cropping a corner may reveal a table top, the pages didn't always lay flat for me and I think under these lights, it may be harder to set the display up.

I plan on just using plain colored and lightly decorated cardstock and scrapbook paper in the future. Or maybe a smaller book for a pendant or earring closeup, but not for one with a chain shot.

Oh, I also turned off the camera's flash, used the macro setting (looks like a flower),and I fiddled with the camera settings so it would be around F 6 and 0 (not sure what that means... but those are the settings that worked best). I also used a simple tripod... I could not have done this without it, even though I do have a pretty steady hand.

Word of caution, the jewelry gets extremely hot, so use pliers or a stick or something to pick them up afterwards.

So, the lesson, is for about $30... you can achieve better pictures than what you ever imagined in a single night!

For an excellent and simple video tutorial, watch this:

Here is a link to making the milk gallon lightbox as someone asked in my comments. Thanks Lars Photography!


Tara said...

Great post! I really want to try setting up a lightbox myself. I usually just take pictures outside on the weekends, but it would be nice to be able to take pictures any day and during the week! Also, I love that little lamb!

Little Lovables said...

Thanks! I tried the natural light... but it's impossible for me to get to the park to take pics with 2 little ones. I live in an apartment, so it's not like I can go out easily :)

The lamb was passed to me from my great-grandmother.

Rosebud Collection said...

I am so short of patience when it comes to taking pictures..Thanks for all the tips..

capitolagirl said...

Your pictures turned out really well. I just bought some clamp lights with daylight bulbs, and have also found that it works well without a box. I use tissue paper sometimes as a diffuser (but i you try this, don't forget to remove the paper - you don't want it causing a fire).

Little Lovables said...

Yes, the tissue paper is a great idea! Or you can go and use a gel to filter the light a little better, that is more fire safe. Just a tip I learned from my old days in the theatre!

earmark said...

lovely photos! your blog banner is super cute!

Anonymous said...

I wish my items were smaller to photograph, great information, thanks. Also I love you blog banner. A

Little Lovables said...

Thanks! My banner is from http://www.CarrieSue425.etsy.com

No way I could make something like that!!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Those are awesome pictures. Clever you are.
I'll have to try that but I have nada photography skills

Anonymous said...

thanx for stopping by and leaving such good advice!

elleabelle said...

Nice job with the pictures. It pays to be imaginative!

XUE said...

Nice blog. I enjoyed reading this. Also, what a complete talented family you have! - xue

HomeMadeOriginals said...

it seems like you got really good results from your setup.

espionage said...

This is awesome.

Anonymous said...

I have seen instructions for using a plastic milk carton. One link is: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/essays/vanRiper/020809.htm

Based on another article I can't find right now, I cut the top and bottom off a milk jug, the top is just big enough for the lens of my cheap digital camera. The flash remains outside of the hole, so that it will flash through the plastic. Item on background, jug placed over, top holds the camera steady and diffuses the light. Really cheap. No extra light source needed, at least in my case.

Little Lovables said...

Wow, I have never heard of that!

Sounds pretty fun to try though.

Winniel said...

thank you very much for the link! I'm going to bookmark this, need some tips n advice to take my silver n pearl jewelries nx, n from past experience, i know that photographing cream pearls can be highly challenging!

Related Posts with Thumbnails