The first thing we do is pop up the flash. Admit it -you are guilty. I am guilty. Depending on the camera that stinker pops up by itself! The nerve! That head on, deer in the headlights burst of light creates color casts and shadows most of the time, not to mention the reflection it creates on photos or metallic materials such as brads. Keep in mind when using the built in flash that they are only good for about 10 feet. Some to 15. Not good for the close ups either which is what we are doing here. Do you understand what I am saying here? Don't use your flash.
See the Key To Success in Photographing your art or smallish objects (think ebay) is using multiple light sources around your subject -diffused light that is. You don't want harsh lighting. So you are thinking what the heck is a girl to do. Well you could do this.
Drop $50 bucks on a mini light studio tent/box. Or you could spend alot more. This is the cheapest one I found. This is on Amazon in case you want to go waste your money.
Now I am no stranger to dropping $50 bucks! I am gadget girl. I have enough gadgets to make your head spin. My head is spinning just thinking about it. But I thought why not try to re-create this at home. I did some research and it seems I wasn't alone in thinking I could do this myself -very inexpensively. Is that a word? I don't know but it sounds good. It's very close to FREE. I like FREE. Turns out I made my own for nothing. I had all the supplies on hand. That makes my day. Now I can buy more stamps! HA!
Here is how I did it:
*large box at least 12x15 (mine was 13x17 and I am going to make a bigger one for layouts)
*White Tissue Paper- the stuff you put in gift bags & shirt boxes
*Xacto knife or box cutter
*Long ruler & marker
*Clear Packing Tape
*Large White poster board -matte finish (needs to be fit inside the opening of the box & hang out a few inches)
*Lights (I will discuss what kind later)
You are about to make magic. Get your DIY apron on.
1. If your box isn't already taped at the bottom, tape it shut. Apply more tape to the inside bottom as well. You don't want it popping open on you.This is my box. Cute isn't it? I tossed the bsmt tapes to the side!
2. Cut off all four top flaps.
3. You are now going to create windows in the box. You need to make a window in each side and the top. (Lay your box on one of the long sides with the open top facing you. Your windows will be on each side & the top, clear as mud?) Using your ruler & marker, draw lines around the outsides. I left approx a 1-1.5 in border around. Using your knife or box cutter, cut that section out leaving the border. Don't freak yourself out trying to get it perfect and even. It will never make any difference. Trust me. Do both sides and the top.This is what your box should look like now:
4. Take those cardboard pieces you cut out and use them as templates. Lay them down on the Tissue Paper, leaving a 1.5in or so border & cut them out.
Your box will look like this photo above.
Poster Board Tid Bits:
*Important, do not fold or crease this poster board. You want it to appear seamless in your photos. If you like the other look- hey who am I to stop you. If you are wondering why the tape & glue gun are in the photo it's because my poster board was rolled up and won't stay down at the moment. It's currently in training- lol
*Yes you can use a color other than white. Just remember white will be all right with everything but your other color may not. I will probably have a spare sheet of black on hand for fun.
*Stick with Matte. Glossy will cause reflection issues.
*Poster board is cheap. You can find sheets of it at craft stores. Large sizes for about $1-$2
The Skinny on Tissue Paper:
*The Tissue Paper acts as a buffer for the light. It diffuses the light. Takes away the harshness.
*I've heard of others using Tracing paper instead of Tissue.
*Don't even worry about the creases or wrinkles.
The Deal with the Light Sources:
*You Do Not need anything expensive or high tech. What you need is something bright that will shine into the windows. You know those cheapo desk lamps on the long conduit neck? I've seen them at Wally World for $5 cool colors even! I don't seem to have anymore of those but what I did have was OTTLights. I've got two of those bad boys. Plus I have these little clamp lights from IKEA. Those are too cool. I think in the future I will get me two of those Desk Lamps. That way I won't have to prop up the others and waste the expensive OTTlight bulbs. But hey these are doing just fine right now. See my photo below:
And a front shot:
Here is my first photo:
Yes, I still need to tweak it. But I am seriously thrilled already. I made the lightbox in a half hour. It cost me nothing. Best of all, I didn't need to color correct this photo. Now since I am a freak, I will create a Custom White Balance just for this. I think the best part is now I can take photos of my goodies at night. No more waiting for daytime!
The only other tip I can think of right now is if you have a Tripod- use it. If not, oh well. You will live. I have a VR lens that really helps out. Try that if you have one. But chances are if you have a VR lens you are a freak like me and own a tripod. A Tripod is your friend.
Oh and don't forget- no flash. And don't cut yourself making the windows.
If you think this has improved your life in the slightest- leave me a comment. Show some love, huh? Feel free to share it as well.