Tuesday, March 1, 2016

New Lightbox and Photography Progression

I'm not a photographer. I have no experience beyond fiddling with settings and seeing what changes--I've read no literature nor taken any lessons (Well, beyond a first year photography class in High School that had us using film cameras and pin-hole cameras we made ourselves.).

That leaves me having to learn as I go, with our product photography. James Lacer, our behind the scenes guy of Lacer's Edge [And from whom the play on words comes from], thankfully has a very nice camera that I utilize for the photos.

Starting out I just took photos outside. This was when Star Glade Crafts was open and selling Clay jewelry. All I knew was that taking pictures inside wasn't working. Flash? Not a chance. It made everything look disgusting. So I used good ol' nature to be my light-source.

Here's how that looked:

The problem is that I was a slave to the weather. I need to take photos and it's raining outside? Oh. Too bad. The sun also wasn't great for the products I was making, and I had to be very specific with how I angled and positioned each charm.

Once I started working on Lacer's Edge with our laser cut jewelry I knew I needed another solution. I was working on a very tight budget, since everything at the time was coming from my own pockets to get the store up and running. So I made my own light box!

That resulted in pictures like this:

And, really, they're not awful. But my inexperience along with not having proper equipment (I was using two desk lamps as my light source, for reference....) resulted in images that, even after light editing, just weren't up to par and ended up over-exposed. Heck--a couple of our current pictures are from when we were using the handmade light box. They're getting redone very shortly.

A few months ago now, I actually bought a light box. I thought 'Bigger is better' and got a 24" folding cube light box, that came with lights.

Bigger is not better, unless the product you're photographing is also larger.

The lights that came with it don't reach far enough inside of the box to illuminate the object as well as I wanted, though that was able to be fixed by slowing the shutter time. It resulted in pictures like this:

Not bad, eh?

Well I'm now to the point where I need a more versatile photographing environment that I'm not going to be limited by how excessively large (for what I'm photographing) the box is plus room needed for the lights.

I heard about a product called Foldio 2. It's a [very] lightweight plastic folding light box with diffused LED strip lights situated on an outer lip that have adjustable brightness. And it's only 15"! It's actually rather fantastic, and I'm thrilled with the final result, minus some issues with the lights flickering off every couple of minutes that I need to look in to.

As with any new photography setup, there was some fiddling with settings to get the colors correct (since I wasn't using LEDs before, the color profile was completely off). After several test photos, we got to a good point... here's what that looked like:

So now we're in the process of re-doing our photos to be a more unified appearance for a cohesive looking storefront!

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