Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Photographing your Craft with a Cheap DIY Lightbox

I have spent time over the last week putting together some new and improved ant sculptures.  I was unhappy with the early versions face and so I improved the design to have more pieces that gave a more realistic finish.  I was also unhappy with the felt I was using as it was all acrylic and did not look nice or feel like it would wear well over time.  I moved to a wool blend felt which is more durable and has advantages of being able to take needle felting.  This has allowed me a better shaping on body arts.

Now I have some finished ants that I am happy with, the next obvious stage is photographing the work.  Photography is not something that comes to me naturally.  I have only basic materials and I want the best result I can get.  I have done a little research and come up with a reasonable and cheap DIY photography solution.

I have made myself a lightbox out of sheets of white corflute.  These are available from my local hardware (Bunnings) at about $7 per sheet. I used 4 sheets - one for the floor that is separate and three to form a hinged backdrop.  I say hinged but really its just clear packing tape along the seams.  The only trick was getting a nice even length of tape attached to seams.  You need a friend to hold the sheets at the correct position while you tape the seam. This three piece photography light box is light, portable and folds away for easy storage.

To the lightbox I have chosen to add lengths of felt as my backdrop.  The felt works well with my art works plus has the benefit of being a great size to buy a continuous drop and is easy to keep flat (just roll it onto a fabric roll tube). I chose sky blue and have another in grass green.

The lighting for my rig is a combination of as much natural light as my best window will give plus a couple of desks lamps.  I hope to improve these as time goes on.

I also found some wonderful cheap fake grass squares to use with my photos.  They were a bargain at $2 each and 4 of them line up to make an interesting ground for my bugs eye view.

My camera is just a digital compact camera albeit a good one (a Panasonic Lumix TZ70). I invested in a second hand tripod from my local charity store for $30 (a great bargain) because with the compact camera you need stability to get clear close-ups on little items.

The end results are reasonable and I am continuing to learn all the time.  There are so many wonderful blogs out there by professional photographers who provide hints on taking insect close-ups using compact cameras and the same rules kind of apply to an ant sculpture as to an actual ant except my models hold still!

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