I love, love, love my new EZ Cube. It’s so sweet, tiny and efficient! I went for the 12″ cube, which allows me to keep it set up in a permanent location. A larger cube wouldn’t fit on this little table, so I would have to break it down after each use. I’m using two cheapo gooseneck desk lamps from Staples and day white compact fluorescent bulbs for my lighting. I picked up an acrylic photo frame to use as the support for shooting pendants. I just tape a background photo to the acrylic frame and clip the pendant chain to the upper corners.
The EZ Cube has two really cool features. First, the top zips open. This means I can make adjustments and switch out pieces without moving the camera and disturbing the arrangement of the front panel. I didn’t realize how important this feature would be until I used the tent. Second, the front panel is really flexible and easy to work with. It attaches around the edges with velcro. The best arrangement for my camera has the front two legs of the tripod actually sitting inside the cube, which is possible by opening the lower velcro sections. It also has a center zipper that closes above and below the camera lens to minimize the camera reflection. Have I mentioned that I LOVE my EZ Cube?
Here’s an example of a recent shot taken with the cube. This image has not been re-touched yet. You can see some minor camera reflection, but with shiny surfaces, even the tiniest bit of camera lens will be reflected back in the image. My husband is a wiz with Photoshop, and he has taught me some amazing tricks for cleaning up these reflections. When I find the time, I’ll post a tutorial to share what I’ve learned.
I started with a DIY photo tent, built out of PVC pipe and a piece of diffusing fabric. It worked quite well, but it was time to upgrade. You can read about my home-built photo tent in a previous post. It’s really a great solution for starting out on a budget.
One of the many challenges I face in setting up this web site and preparing to sell my artwork online is the need for photographs that can really convey the details of each piece. My work ranges from small earrings and beads to 18″ tall vases, so I needed a setup that would be flexible. It also needed to be easy to store and inexpensive. First stop – Google!
With just a bit of surfing I learned that the pros use some type of box system where the object would be wrapped in white with some type of diffusion material on the sides. The lights go outside the box. The result is a well-lighted object without any harsh shadows.
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I found a tutorial from Bill Huber at Pbase.com showing how to build a photo frame from pvc pipe. It seemed to be a good solution and was a clear winner compared to the light tents available for sale for $75+. The frame was easy and quick to build and I got all of the materials at Lowe’s.
The light sources are two $10 gooseneck desk lamps from Staples outfitted with 26 watt compact fluorescent bulbs. Based on some advice I found (where else) online, I was careful to purchase bulbs marked as “day white” with a color temperature of 6500k. This is important, because the typical compact fluorescent bulbs are soft white warm light and will give your photos a yellowish cast.
My old camera had seen better days and refused to go into macro mode, so this was a good time to find a new digital camera. I chose the Sony H3 because it packs a 10x zoom lens into a fairly compact package and has some manual controls to allow for exposure and white balance control among others. Love, love, love the new camera!
My photo geek husband had several tabletop tripods for me to try out, and the clear winner was the Slik Mini Pro. It was far more stable, flexible and easy to use than the others.
You can see the results of the studio throughout this site and soon on my etsy store. Enjoy!
January 27, 2008
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