Here is my biggest project from Christmas Break.Â I wantedÂ a place to photograph some of my more appealing ceramic items.Â I started thinking and designingÂ a few months ago.Â WhenÂ Christmas Break finally rolled around IÂ put my plan into action.Â Since I don’t have large quantities of empty space I decided to make it collapsible.Â You can see the whole thing in action and a few test shots below.Â Not bad for my first attempt…
I did a lot of “winging it” but it turned out pretty well in the end.Â I built the base first.Â Nothing too complicated here.Â I made the back pretty sturdy and then attached some arms using hinges so they can swing out and hold the lights and then fold back in when I want to put it away.Â Next I made the “light support” which goes on top of the base and holds the arms in one place.Â It also makes a little tray for the lights to slide forward and backward.Â The height of the light support can also be adjusted somewhat.Â The last step was making the actual light box.Â I got a book from the library so I could wire the lights without electrocuting myself.Â I put 6 sockets inside and even put an on/off switch on the box.Â Everything seems to work fine but I’m going to have my electrician (brother) check it out and make sure it’s up to code (or at least won’t burn my house down).Â He probably could have wired the whole thing in about 20 minutes but it took me an hour or two.Â But at least I learned something…Â I cut up one of those white ceiling panelsÂ that are used for flourescent lights for diffusion and put foamcore around the box so I don’t accidentally touch some live wires.
I’m currently using some daylight CFL 100w replacements that I got from Lowes.Â The gray fabric that I got from Walmart seems to have a slightly yellow cast in these lights.Â I’ll probably try some other options and play with the White Balance on my camera and in the RAW editor to get the color the way it’s supposed to be.Â I used custom white balance for the test shots but it still might be a little off.Â Eventually I’d like to make an actual gray board for the background or even one of those graduated backdrops.Â It would be easier to set up, smoother, and I could probably get a completely neutral gray.Â I also need to paint the legs of the base black.Â After taking a few pictures I noticed they were showing in some of the reflections on the pots.Â ForÂ a temporary fix I covered them with black paper.Â I’m also going to work on getting the “fade to black” in better position and maybe a little more light on the front of the pot.Â Some of the round pieces don’t have enough light at the bottom.Â I’ll probably experiment with some reflectors.Â So far I’m pretty happy.Â We’ll see if it holds up and if I can make any more improvements in the future.
I did a lot of research (aka “surfing the net”) before I actually started this project so I have to give some credit.Â Here are a few of the sites that I looked at while working on my project.
John Glick – especially this and this
Make Film Work and Indie4K
There was also a good one on diynetwork.com but I can’t find it now.