Monday 16 February 2015

Making a Light Box

Right from when I first started making jewellery I knew I wanted to have photos of the pieces I made; to use in a blog, for an online shop, for a record of what I made, and so on.

Taking those photos has been a challenge. Getting the right light, background, display set up. This is something pretty much all small business artisans have struggled with.

When I started out I simply draped a piece of velvet or satin cloth over a chair. Eventually I learned about lighting, which just could not be done effectively with this set up. So I went online…and came out of the search with this little setup.

Sad to say, I cannot remember where I found the instructions, or who the author was. They did recommend using a larger box and lining it with white fabric. I was impatient though and did not have a larger box. I also didn’t want to cut up my satin and didn’t have  white fabric that was sheer enough anyway, so I went with white printer paper. It worked well enough but there was always a grey cast to the photos, visible above too even though I haven’t cropped the photo.

Eventually the size and grey shading just became too much to try to deal with, so I made a new box, this time using fabric instead of paper.

Not wanting to glue the fabric to the box or ending up with heavy fold lines, I decided to sew a fabric “box” to use within the cardboard box. My plan was to make the fabric a little longer on all sides and fold the extra length over the outside of the box. It worked in principle, except, I didn’t measure right and it wasn’t tall enough. Still, I used this set up for a long time.

Last summer the cardboard box started to collapse until eventually it was not usable anymore. I guess I cut the openings too large. The remaining frame didn’t have the strength needed to maintain the shape.

Back online I went again and came up with this solution

This time I kept the link. You can find information here. It was a great concept and was working well. I loved that is was very portable and began to take photos outside. I went on a jewellery photographing spree and quickly came to realize the aluminium foil does not do well with jewellery. The wire, edges of crystals and beads and clasps all left scratch marks. The foil was looking rough very quickly. So I started using the same white fabric from the back on the flat surface

That worked better to a point. The “fabric” I was using is actually a specialty pattern tracing fabric. It’s designed to withstand tearing but is somewhat sheer.

Along came winter and I was back inside taking photos. I just took the fabric from my collapsed box and draped it over a couple of drawers from my desktop storage units.

These photos ended up with a very wrinkled background which didn’t always look the best. 

Back online I went (again) and found instructions for this light box

Although it’s not quite finished I thought I should try it out for size, and laughed at the scale once set up

Left like this I could easily do several set ups at the same time. It does make the light box hard to use though, since it’s larger than most available surfaces. I will resize it a bit, but not today. Once that’s done the fabric will go over the open squares and I’ll add the recommended glass surface for a stage.

One final shot shows the camera porthole available at the top. The camera on top is the one I use for my jewellery photos, a little Fujifilm CMOS. (I used my iPad to take this photo) 
I don’t recommend resting the camera on the box. Although strong the foam board still bent under the weight of my little camera.

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