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  #1  
Old 01-10-2005, 12:10 AM
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'No Frills' $75.00 home studio tent/lightbox

Folks,

I have always shared my setup and methods with as many folks as have asked. Somehow, in doing so, my own business has never lost a beat. A consistently 'mysterious' question that is posed is "What is the best setup for cheap....?" I wanted to find out myself.

For many, the constraints of weather and daylight necessitate having a consistent indoor studio. Also one that can be set-up, taken down in a heartbeat, and stored away in a minimum of space. I think I came up with just such a project.

I kept the componentry costs to a bare minimum, while still maintaining the requirements of knife-specific photography. Let's look:



3-pack white posterboard $8.00
(3) clamp-on lights $21.00
(3) 75watt daylight fluorescent (5000k) bulbs $18.00
(1) Power strip $6.00
Assorted PVC elbows, and (1) 8" section of 1-1/2" pipe $15.00
(1) Box of white transluscent garbage bags for diffuser $2.00
(8) variety pak of artist's paper or a sample of wallpaper $5.00
Total: $75.00

In keeping with the no-frills scenario, I used the very lowest resolution on my camera and edited them in my ACDSee image editor (not Photoshop). Also, I set the white balance to 'auto' and hand-held the camera at a large aperature (f-3.5) and slow shutter speed. (1/60 sec. -- I would advise a tripod) Basically what I wanted to point out was that you can accomplish this with a bare minimum of equipment and readily-available image software. (There is even freeware to do so.)

Here are the samples of the images I took with this:

(Click to enlarge image)








I chose the high-polished dagger because it is probably the hardest blade to get consistent lighting with. Even with some crafty positioning I was able to accomplish it fairly well. There are hot spots, but overall it's pretty good. Toss in a little autumn leaves for some color and you have a good portfolio shot.

I'll draw up the dimensions of the posterboard frame sometime soon.

So here it is. It's hardly a mystery now!

Coop


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Last edited by Terrill Hoffman; 03-29-2006 at 07:10 AM.
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:49 AM
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Coop..........THANK YOU !

Sure helps us Beginners out.

Ive mentioned earlier that I acquired a new camera and havent touched it yet...waiting for the previous owner to give me some help.

Its funny you post this, I went to Walmart, Purchased me some Nylon or something similar (first time in the fabric section.....really) bought some dowels for a frame and a few lights. The bulbs are GE Reveal 100W. Kinda Purplish color. The box is very temporary till the more permanant one is done. The box lit up Really nice even though it doesnt show it in the photo. The pictures came out like CRAP. (taken with my Minolta S414 Dimage) Now obviously I dont know how to run this camera and have never taken an inside picture.....all mine have been outdoors. I played with the white Balance. Goofed with about everything I could think of, Threw it agains the wall and still no luck. I wouldnt worry about it till I get up and running with the new camera but im concerned I might have the same results. I will post a pic of the box and one of the pictures of the knives. These are pretty Raw photos..no Photoshop.

Any suggestions on what the prob might be ?

Thanks again Coop for taking the time to create that.

Shane.



Heres the sample of the CRAPY....cant figure out photo....



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Old 01-10-2005, 08:51 AM
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Coop, great ideas! I have some of the odds and ends from EZcube.com at my shop, however I think I'll build yours also, I have just the place for it. It'll probably outdo the ezcube outfit anyway ).
Shane, that's a neat box! Sorry, I can't help with your settings, bulbs and white balance would be my first thought (I'd lower the lights also).


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Old 01-10-2005, 08:57 AM
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Shane,

Thanks for posting your setup. Each one we see helps give us ideas to improve.

You have what it takes. The first thing you need to do is place those dark knives on a much darker background. Ever notice that all those 'blactical' knives are always poised over more dark-ops stuff? That's intentional. You need a lot more light to expose them, and the whites are blowing out your settings.

Robert, I am certain the cube is as good, if not better. What I am doing is showing how for ONLY $75.00 you can complete this box. The most next valuable purchase would be a tripod. The ability of your cube to get light in from the sides is an asset. So show it!

Coop


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Old 01-10-2005, 10:53 PM
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I dont have a pic of my set up but it is simalar to yours coop.....and I have a ton to learn yet about taking pics. What i did was take a white sheet and lay it flat on the work bench and then pinned it up to the ceiling above...on an angle. Then I used two lights on the back side to light it up. Seems to work ok. My question is do you guys use a flash with a set up like that or not. I have found sometimes the flash helps sometimes it hinders.


Your lousy pic taker,

Ross
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Old 01-10-2005, 11:01 PM
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I hate to mess with the thunder of your really great $75 light studio with pictures of my commercial run of the mill cube. But I will if you want. I can take some pictures of it tomorrow and post. I though it'd be off topic. Mine's not near as cool looking, and cost WAY to much!


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Old 01-10-2005, 11:38 PM
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Robert, Post it buddy. Us begginers cant get enough help on this subject. I went back to the drawing board tonight and changed the lighting up a bit to get it lighter inside the box. Pics still look like Crap. I think im going to run off and make a 36" Damascus Sword.........I think that would be easier.

Still learning,

Shane


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Old 01-11-2005, 09:16 AM
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Shane, I'll go take some shots of the cube, but it's sort of goofy looking. I have two in fact, a 30 x 30 x 30, and they throw in for "free" a 12 x 12 x 12. I still think your knives would show better with a change of bulbs, or mess with your WB. Like Coop says though, the background is absorbing all of the light, won't let anything else have any. But really, I'm to new at this to make a qualified comment, just going by what I've discovered with my setup. Yours box looks great, and after you tweak it you'll be taking some "Coop" style photos without a doubt!


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Old 01-11-2005, 11:26 AM
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In the spirit of showing cheap.....

I took this photo:



With this setup:



It's just a sheet of lexan and a couple of reveal lights. There was a white poster board in the back when I took the shot.

Steve


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Old 01-11-2005, 11:44 AM
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Steve, that's a neat setup!


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Old 01-11-2005, 12:23 PM
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Ok......After seeing Steves setup and the pictures he produces It makes me believe its a camera problem. The bulbs may be some of it but the inside of my box is very bright.....looks like I feel it should. I adjusted the lights like suggested and that helped the interior lighting and I used some darker backgrounds. I messed with the WB a little but that could be the problem. I think Im just going to be patient and wait till the new camera is ready to use. Im just impatient. This Minolta s414 dimage that im taking pic with now should be good enough I would think but for some reason it doesnt like me very much.

Back to the drawing board.

Shane

Steve, is that a hole on the side of your light box ? if so does the the light shine right through it ? (left side)


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Old 01-11-2005, 12:54 PM
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Shane, No that's a crack in the Lexan (I think that's what it's called.) - no magic there!

The stuff is that overhead lighting diffusion sheet stuff from Home Depot. It's about $5 and it cracks easy! I need a new sheet.

Are you using a tripod? I have a big heavy one.
Are you stopping down? I'm using aperture priority and about f8.
Do you have a manual white balance feature? I'm setting mine after all the setup is done, then putting a piece of white copier paper in there and pressing 'set'.

Hope that info helps.

Steve
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Old 01-11-2005, 01:34 PM
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Here's my setup. It's not a budget system, I had decided that instead of shopping around trying to find all the parts (Uvalde, Texas doesn't carry many items, believe me), I'd just buy a package deal. This cost a little over $200, but included two cubes, two light recepticals with shields, and two stands. It came with a 30 x 30 x 30 cube, and a 12 x 12 x 12 cube, which they say is free. Anyway, it fit my needs at the time, plus I like the easy way to store it. The first shot is me along with the cube, for size. You can see the small cube on the right side.


Here the lights are on, and I pulled a knife from my collection (one of Jason Cutters Bowies) as a prop. If I were really going to take a picture of the knife, I'd have a different background, etc. It's just there for effect. You can also see my Sony DSC f828 and the Manfrotto tripod, (which I really like, it's lightweight, has a ball head).


When the shooting over, the cubes collapse very easily. They have a wire frame inside, which allowes it to go flat after you figure out the sequence. It takes about 10 seconds to flatten each one,and the only thing I'm left with is the lights, and I haven't figured out how to store/transport them.


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Old 01-11-2005, 01:38 PM
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A couple of side notes, the ezcube is available at www.ezcube.com. A neat thing about the little 12 x 12 x 12 cube, is that by rounding the corners slightly on the tile, a "sample" flooring tile from Lowes or Home Depot or wherever will fit into the cube, and you can leave it in there when you fold it flat.


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Old 01-11-2005, 01:46 PM
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Robert, I don't consider that too expensive. $200 is reasonable for all that! Plus the convenience factor.

Steve


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