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The Dark Room -- Photo Editing and Picture Taking. Advice, tutorials, questions on all things photoshop, photo editing, and taking pictures of beads or glass.

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  #1  
Old 2013-08-08, 4:07pm
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Default New light boxes = MUCH improved photography

Posted this in the bathroom ... decide to put it here so it won't get flushed.

I just blogged about these new light boxes I picked up at the Rochester Gathering. If you are interested in the before and after comparison, click on the link to my blog:

http://envisionsf.blogspot.com/2013/...ic-set-up.html

They are really awesome! Eliminated the hot spots, and most of the reflections and the glare (a little is needed to show depth and 3D quality of the beads, imho).





With all the recent discussion on improving one's photography, this may be the answer to your next submission to a juried show/book!
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  #2  
Old 2013-08-08, 5:17pm
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I have to second Hayley's opinion- mine arrived yesterday evening in the mail and got a few pics this morning:



One thing that is particularly nice when comparing it to my old photo tent- you're not constrained by the shape/size of the tent when laying out your work. The best thing is that I'm not dreading taking photos as much as I used to..which is a win in my book
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  #3  
Old 2013-08-08, 6:48pm
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I was looking at these after seeing a post on FB today...must get some! (and a new camera!)
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  #4  
Old 2013-08-08, 8:08pm
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How space do you guys use with your light boxes set up??
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Old 2013-08-08, 8:34pm
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It takes up quite a bit of space, Joy- my desk top is probably close to 4' or more across and it is pretty filled with enough space for the backdrop in the middle.
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Old 2013-08-08, 8:55pm
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Here is a quick pic of my set up, Joy. With the lights so tightly placed, it needs a surface 40" wide. The depth of the light boxes is about 20". (It's temporarily on my dining room table while I reconfigure my photography area to accommodate the larger set up.)

Name:  photo-48setup.jpg
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Old 2013-08-08, 9:55pm
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Thanks for the input guys ;p
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  #8  
Old 2013-08-09, 7:26am
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I've been struggling for a long time with lighting - these look fantastic! Hayley, those bead photos are just incredible!

Thanks so much for posting this info. These are going to be at the top of my Christmas list.
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  #9  
Old 2013-08-09, 10:57am
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Well, I talked myself into a new camera, so it's only right that a new lighting setup should join it. Thanks for sharing!
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  #10  
Old 2013-08-09, 12:14pm
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How easy/difficult is it to set up and take down the soft boxes? I don't have a good place to leave them up all the time, and if they're a pain to set up, I probably won't end up using them much. From browsing photography shops, it looks like some softboxes are like umbrellas, and you just open them up. For others, you have to insert wires into all the corners and into some central thing, which looks like quite a job.

Hayley, is the graduated background that you're using (under glass) paper or vinyl?
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  #11  
Old 2013-08-09, 12:34pm
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The lightboxes Hayley uses are very easy to setup. They open like an umbrella and lock into place without having to insert rods or wires into the corners. After the lightbox is popped open and locked, you screw in a lightbulb, cover the front with the diffuser, insert the stick in the stand coupler on the back of the lightbox, and stand it on the table. Plug in the cord, click the inline switch and you're ready to photograph. It takes about 3 total minutes from pulling it out of the nylon bag to setting in on the table. To see more, go here: dougbaldwinphoto.com/lightboxes.html
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Old 2013-08-09, 12:54pm
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What Doug said, Emily. It's very easy to set up!

The graduated background is vinyl - I got them from B&H Photo. I cut the piece in half lengthwise so it's narrower.
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Old 2013-08-09, 1:24pm
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Thanks, Doug & Hayley! I went ahead and ordered a set of lightboxes from Doug. I should have gotten the ones he had at the Gathering and saved myself shipping, but I needed time to talk myself into it.
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  #14  
Old 2013-08-09, 2:30pm
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Emily, I actually paid for mine at the Gathering and asked Doug to ship them to me! lol!
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  #15  
Old 2013-08-09, 6:26pm
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these look really nice. Does anyone know how they might work with a 19" tall mannikin head/neck? I use the mannikin to show earrings and necklaces and her skin always has a weird greenish cast that drives me nuts trying to correct in Photoshop. She will not fit inside my current light box
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  #16  
Old 2013-08-09, 7:34pm
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Sigh..... I'm going to break down and get 2 of these really soon. Awesome photography! I really lack in that area. Expensive camera, expensive desktop publishing programs, poopy photo setup.
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  #17  
Old 2013-08-09, 9:14pm
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Elizabeth, I hope Doug will chime in on this ... On his web page, he mentioned 16" pieces working with this system. Not sure about 19".

Alexis, with your expensive camera and software, you will rock with this set up!
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  #18  
Old 2013-08-09, 10:00pm
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First, be sure the White Balance is set on your camera to the closest White Balance of your lights. Don't expect Auto White Balance (AWB) to do the work for you. Anything automatic will frequently trip you up.

Most lights will need a bit of color correction in Photoshop. The easiest way to automate the process is to include a tiny part (1/4") of a 18% gray card and set it in a corner of the photo. When the photo is opened in Photoshop or Elements, go the Levels Command (PS: Image > Image Adjustments > Levels). Click on the middle gray eyedropper to activate. Click on the gray card in the photo with the Eye Dropper and the photo is globally color corrected to neutral. Crop out the gray card after color correcting the photo. This method works easily and correctly if you use an 18% gray card. Anything else you click on for color correction may not be exactly neutral, and your photo will color correct to the opposite of the color in the sample.
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Old 2013-08-09, 10:08pm
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The first question that comes to mind is, are you really using the whole 19" of the form? If not, move your camera in closer to fill the frame with the important stuff. The front of the lights measures about 19". That being said though, the light will subtly fall off as it gets to the edge of the light source. Get the lights in as close as is practical to provide a large soft source for what you're photographing. The easiest and cheapest way to counteract any light falloff is to put large white card stock around the areas where the lights are not. We call these fill cards. I bought a ream of 11x17" white cover stock we use in photo class to use as fill cards.

You can always add more lights to the set to increase the lighted area. At the Bead & Button Show photo class we had a student who was creating a photo for her upcoming ad in Cowboys and Indians Magazine. We added 2 more lights to her extended set and she was good to go. The shot contained about 4 necklaces and a bracelet.
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Old 2013-08-09, 10:10pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Baldwin View Post
First, be sure the White Balance is set on your camera to the closest White Balance of your lights. Don't expect Auto White Balance (AWB) to do the work for you. Anything automatic will frequently trip you up.

Most lights will need a bit of color correction in Photoshop. The easiest way to automate the process is to include a tiny part (1/4") of a 18% gray card and set it in a corner of the photo. When the photo is opened in Photoshop or Elements, go the Levels Command (PS: Image > Image Adjustments > Levels). Click on the middle gray eyedropper to activate. Click on the gray card in the photo with the Eye Dropper and the photo is globally color corrected to neutral. Crop out the gray card after color correcting the photo. This method works easily and correctly if you use an 18% gray card. Anything else you click on for color correction may not be exactly neutral, and your photo will color correct to the opposite of the color in the sample.
That's exactly how I do it, Doug!
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  #21  
Old 2013-08-09, 10:43pm
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thank you Doug! where can I get an 18% gray card?
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Old 2013-08-09, 11:53pm
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Most decent photo stores in larger cities should have them. Or go to bhphotovideo.com to order one.
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  #23  
Old 2013-08-10, 3:16am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hayley View Post
What Doug said, Emily. It's very easy to set up!

The graduated background is vinyl - I got them from B&H Photo. I cut the piece in half lengthwise so it's narrower.
Hayley, which graduated background did you get ? I'm having a hard time finding it on the website.
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Old 2013-08-10, 8:16am
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It's been a long time since I got mine but I believe this was the one I purchased.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...und_31x43.html

Here are the gray cards.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search...&Ntt=Gray+card
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Old 2013-08-10, 8:38am
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Thanks very much Hayley !
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  #26  
Old 2013-08-10, 12:16pm
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If you are getting a green caste then you either have some very strange lights (or are getting light reflected off of green walls), your camera IS NOT set to auto color balance (which actually works pretty good in most current consumer cameras) or you are changing the color when you get it into your photo editor.

If you go with most modern cameras, with auto color balance set to auto under most common lights found in a home, with white reflective surfaces around the subject, your images are going to be pretty close out of the camera. The camera companies have worked hard to make point and shoot type cameras almost fool proof.

If you are going to adjust color in the photo editing software, a gray card works ok, but a black, white, gray card works better so you can adjust low, high and mid-levels. There are any number of these available, usually the same place you buy a Photo Gray Card. Here are a few on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Opteka-Balance...6161744&sr=1-8

A smaller, cheaper version of the one above:
http://www.amazon.com/Optek-Premium-...6161744&sr=1-1

And if you want to really get into color control, there is this:
http://www.amazon.com/DGK-Color-Tool...6161876&sr=1-3

The most expensive one is the first at $13.00.

Of course all the color calibration tricks in the world won't help your images if the person viewing them is viewing on a monitor that isn't close to being calibrated for color, brightness and contrast.

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Old 2013-08-10, 1:30pm
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thank you all for the great advise. I will be checking out the B&H photo site now. I had a bit of an epiphany last night, as the manniken doesn't fit in the photo cube, I usually set her up outside, I'm wondering if the greenish cast might be coming from the grass/trees and possibly she just has a weird complexion.
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Old 2013-08-10, 3:08pm
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It seems that some people mistook my original comment (which I have deleted) in my blog about my inability to capture iridescence using this system and thought it was the flaw of the light boxes! I want to stress that it's NOT the light box but user's error! I am no professional photographer and we all know silver glass is difficult to photograph! Here is another image - I think I am doing better in capturing the iridescence here.



I will continue to learn and strive to improve ... and will share more pictures here!

You are all welcome to post your results too! PLEASE!!!
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  #29  
Old 2013-08-12, 6:29am
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I currently have no photo/light setup - beads aren't good enough to sell yet. I do, however, have my entire studio lighted with daylight bulbs and I'm a big believer in their value. My question is: under what circumstances would you need more than one setup? I noticed you have options for ordering more than one. Thanks.
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Old 2013-08-12, 11:50am
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Doug recommends two light boxes (see pictures above for my and Aja's set up) - that's what I got and love the result!
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