Monday, February 1, 2010

Photographing Your Artwork- The Key To Success...

Friends the key to successfully photographing your artwork is in the Lighting. Let's face it we don't always have the best light or natural light to get the results we need. Too much light washes out colors and of course not enough light makes everything appear dark.

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:

Supplies needed

*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.

5. Take the Tissue paper pieces you cut out and tape them over the windows in the box from the outside.

Your box will look like this photo above.

6. Measure the width of your box from the inside then subtract about 1/4 in or so. You need to take that poster board at cut it to that width. Tape it to the inside all the way to the back on top. Remember to leave the longer end to hang out of the box (see the photo below)

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.



Michelle said...

Tracey what a great tutorial! I can't wait to try this out! You are amazing!

family.seals said...

What an awesome idea! You rock girl! I can't wait to show my photo freak hubby this one!


Jaime Benavides said...

Fabulous tutorial Tracey! Thanks for sharing. I have a couple of boxes in the dimensions that you listed so I'm good to go!;)

2cut said...

this is AWSOME!! Can't wait to make mine and have it ready to go.

Jodie said...

WOW!! I'm going to make one of these tomorrow! This is fabulous...thank you so much for sharing! :)

Lorrinda said...

Thanks for the tutorial! I've been looking for a light box on ebay, but I like the price of yours way better! Now to find a big box to fit a 2 page layout.....

Donna said...

You rock, little girl! I always struggle with the artwork photos and this looks like it will work great. Thanks for sharing!

shannonmvt said...

Thanks so much Tracey, i was in much need of know how to take photos! I just bought some tissue paper last night so i am definetly going to try this tonight!

Cheryl said...

This is SO full of the AWESOME Tracey!! Thanks for doing me a solid...I've been using the tri-fold science fair cardboard doo-hickey...but I have to do it in the daytime. This is totally better for my nighttime tendencies.

Love your blog girl.


Lori said...

You ARE a genius! (and a funny one at that!) Thanks for the great ideas and tutorial. Now I just need to find a box! BTW, I love your card too. You create such wonderful art! TFS

Antoinette said...

Here's some love for you!! This really is awesome!! I'm gonna have to find myself a larger box for the scrapbook pages,too! You have a very fun 'writing voice'--do you write? You should.

Tiffanie said...

THANK YOU!!!! that is awesome! I have been wondering how everyone posts all their amazing art work so professionally! Can't wait to make me one!!! Thanks for sharing your tip...btw..darling card!

A said...

Okay I am laughing so hard right now! I love this and will be getting on it right away! Like after I drop the kiddo's off at school. And then I shall be posting all my artwork without all the hassel!
Thank you soooo much for sharing! I love your writing style! Too funny!!!!

Terri said...

What a wonderful tutorial! Thank you for the inspiration and instructions!


Karen Pedersen said...

I have GOT to make one NOW! Thanks for the instructions, oh knower of everything photography!

carabear19 said...

Love this! I have to find a BIG box!!!

Dschrader said...

Thanks for the tutorial on the light box! I'm guilty of using the flash, even knowing what it mom the photographer is always griping at me about that! Hugs, Donna

Gloria said...

Love is on its way -- thank you for shedding the light! on my projects. I'll be collecting the items for this over the next couple of days and seeing how well I can follow directions. Thanks for taking the time to do this for all of us with strange colored, dark photos on our blog!

nikkii said...

How did you do that? Read my mind I mean. I was just wondering about this very thing. Thanks so much.

Gloria said...

You are rockin' my socks right now!! I LOVE this tutorial and can not wait to try it. I seriously needed this exact thing 5 minutes ago when I was trying to take photos of art in the middle of the night...again. With a 2 year old, the only time I get is in the middle of the night. You've saved me, my art and my blog readers from a lifetime of horrible photos. We are forever in debt to your thrifty genius. :)

Ruthieann said...

Thanks for sharing the know-how Tracey. This looks great!! I am going to give it a try. I think I have a box in the garage just right for the job. TFS!

Gloria said...

Hey Tracey, I commented yesterday and wanted to update...
I just completed my 15 minutes and only spent $0.41 on poster board. Killer tutorial! If you want to, come check out my own "ugly box" and the results I posted today.

Thanks again,

Betsy said...

Thanks so much for this tutorial. I've been thinking about this subject a lot lately and wondering how to improve such photos.Now if I could just figure out where to store the lovely box!


Anonymous said...

I am excited to try this !!! Thanks for all the Great Idea Shanna

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Tracy, I'll give this a try!

Lolis said...

Great idea! I'm making my box today. Thank you for sharing.

CntryGrl said...

Tracey, I have been looking for something to take photos of my creations...thanks for the inexpensive share....i have the wal-mart ligts on my You are amazing and a fellow CTMH'r!!!!

Beth said...

Tracy...I mentioned your post in passing to my DH and for Valentines he surprised me with my very own box! Check out the pic on my blog! Thank you for posting the info!

Anonymous said...

Tracey, this is fantastic. You are very creative. I was watching you Faux Wood video and started looking at more of your posts and found this. Do you have any other photography post for tips to taking pictures? Thanks so much.

Nicole said...

I cannot WAIT to try this out. Thank you so much!

Jayma Malme said...

OMG Tracey, I'm so glad I ran across this post! I've been stalking your blog because I threw out my back and can't do much else. I want to make this RIGHT now but I can't move...BOO! Thank you so much for posting this...I'm going to make one as soon as I can :)

Julie Anne said...

found this thru twitter!! I am moving in 2 weeks and will be saving one of my boxes to make one of these as soon as I get settled in!! Can't wait to take new pictures of all my cards!! :)

Gina B said...

I'm SOOO glad this was blog was shared on our boards! I can't wait to make mine! THANK YOU!

Jayma Malme said...

I've had a tab up for your post for 2 weeks now, and finally made my lightbox last night. It was SO easy...definitely less than 30 min. I just need a 3rd desk lamp now...Wally World, here I come! Thanks, Tracey :)

Karen Day said...

Thanks for adding this, Tracey! off to find me a box...

Carla said...

Well, I guess my Ebay photo box is going in the closet! I can use the lights and the tripod, but the box is a goner now! I hope I can have amazing pics now! Thanks Tracey!

ANewYear said...

This is a great tutorial. I think I have everything I need to make this tonight. I can't wait ot get started. I struggle with my pictures, even with a tripod. :(

I'll link back to your blog if I get this to work. Thank you!!

Connie MacFarlane said...

Tracey, this is a great tutorial. I've put together my own light box and am thrilled with it. I have posted a link to your tutorial on my blog

Thank you!

Rebecca said...

I can't wait to make one for myself!! I have my shopping list ready for tomorrow -- only thing I need is posterboard! Fantastic!

Can you share more once you make the bigger one for layouts? One question I have is how to prop up the layouts to get a great head on picture. Maybe some clips at the top of the box? I'm not nearly as creative as you, so please share!

Thank you so much!

Trisha Morton said...

This is Love. Left here. Seriously, thanks for putting this together! I've been pondering how to make one and you just took the hard part out-- the thinking!

Furinkan9999 said...

Thank you for sharing... Really helpful and applicable... :) Really love it....

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Who is Tracey?

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I live in Maine with my husband and two kids while my oldest is in San Fran attending college. I am happiest with my camera attached to my face or making something crafty with paper. I am going on 9 years as a CTMH consultant, I am a Stamping Royalty Contest Winner and have been published many times in Papercrafts & Stamp It.

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