Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Playing with the mood of a photo

After looking through the images I took during my antique camera photo shoot, I thought it might be fun to pick one and try to play with the tone of the image. I wanted to keep the effect subtle, but still give it a bit of a mood. For this tone I chose to draw from the look of film developed in the 70's. Here's a tutorial of the techniques I used to achieve these results.

Here's the original photo

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New 50 mm Prime Lens

I can't believe what a HUGE difference this new 50 mm prime lens makes! I did a photo shoot of a couple antique cameras we have in the house today and was really excited to see the results. The cameras are so beautiful! I think I'm going to have to print out the series and hang them all together somewhere. It might even be cool to see if there's a coffee shop or something that would be interested in the series as part of a local artist gallery of some sort. I'll have to look around. Thanks for the extra inspiration to make the purchase, Steph! I love it!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Honored to be a guest blogger

Today I'm very honored for the opportunity to be guest blogging over at Shutter Sisters as a Friday Featured Resource. Thank you for allowing me to contribute a thought to such an inspirational and talented community of women, Tracey. Happy Friday everyone!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Shutter Sisters Inspiration

I enjoy the daily bits of inspiration from Shutter Sisters. Today's bit revolved around the clean slate of the new year.

Sometimes it's tough for me to follow through with various creative assignments depending on what's going on in my life and whatnot but I just really liked this one so I thought I'd give it a shot. With all the chilly gray brown and white around us these days I felt like this would be a great opportunity to look a little closer for the colorful, the cheery, and the cozy. Here's the assignment:
January Homework Assignment (Starting Monday):

1) Take one photo everyday until Jan. 31st that is colorful, cozy, cheerful or just makes yousmile.

2) Do something creative with your hands 5 days a week. It could be drawing, painting, origami, scribbling, doodling, writing, or anything else. But it may not involve a camera or a computer.

I've decided that I'm going to count culinary exploits as 'something creative with my hands' as well. I'll be keeping a log of my photos, and photos of the things I make by hand up on my flickr page. Let me know if you decide to join. I'd love to see your photos.

PS: The diptych above is of some awesome eggnog cupcakes. I got the recipe from Annie's Eats. The cupcakes had a great flavor, were super moist and the icing was REALLY sweet. I don't prefer the sugar icings as much as cream cheese variety, so I think next time I'll experiment with a different icing.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Lights and Some Color

Here is my new and improved light box photo. I found that my little desk lights weren't quite bright enough to show off my subject matter, so I got some clip lights and put in a daylight bulb so that all the colors were as true as could be. I also made sure to white balance my camera before shooting my subject and I added a nice patterned fabric beneath to make it pop.

The angle wasn't quite right when I clipped my lights to the sides of the box, but I didn't have any special light stands to fasten my lights to. To serve as stands, I tried clipping the lights to a couple bookends and it worked perfectly. They were easy to maneuver to get the lighting just right.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Making of a Light box

A light box is something I've been meaning to construct for some time now. I get so frustrated when trying to take photos of things that I make in the winter time because of the lack of natural light. Everything looks dark and blah.

After a conversation today with miss Jen the Beantown Baker about techniques to improve her delicious food photography I decided to take on the challenge of creating an affordable, collapsible light box for people who may be short on space as well as cash. The problem I found with many of the affordable foam core light boxes is that every time you want to take it down you risk having the tape rip the walls apart. That in combination with the potentially frustrating assembly as one fumbles with the foam core like a house of cards lead me to the idea of a dove-tail like joint for the box.

This light box design cost about $4 for the foam core and another $1 for the poster board that I use to create a seamless background. It's quick and easy to assemble, tear down, and store away. I still need to find brighter lighting, I used two dim desk lamps to test, but it definitely has potential!

First I cut the foam core into 20"X20" panels. I then labeled each panel according to it's location on the box to keep myself from getting confused.
After I labeled my 4 sides I measured a 1" thick margin where each joint connected. Then I laid out the panels according to where they connected to the 'back' panel. Imagine the sides and top folding up at each joint and you can visualize how the box will connect.

With the joints touching I measured out 3" notches and drew my line across both panels to ensure that everything would fit together nicely. For someone who is less than precise when it comes to measuring, this is a great technique to ensure a good fit. I then shaded in the notches that I wanted to cut out with my exacto knife. I did this to keep from cutting out the wrong notch accidentally.

By tilting your panel up you can see where the notches fit into each other. The white ones, or tabs will fit into the shaded ones, the ones I cut out.

Once you cut out the shaded boxes to create your notches, you should be able to easily assemble the light box.

Here's the light box assembled. This will create 3 nice white surfaces to bounce light off of to create a nice even light source for product photography. The final step is adding a strip of poster board to create a seamless backdrop for the product. Since the light box is 20" wide with a 1" margin on each side I needed to cut my poster board to be 18" wide.

Again, I did not want to use tape which could tear the box and the poster board, so I cut notches into the poster that fit into the tabs on the 'back' panel. I set the poster's notches into the 'back' panels, then laid the 'top' panel on top of it to hold it in place. It worked out great.

Here are the 2 dim desk lamps I used to test the setup. I'd recommend getting a couple of those silver dome lamps with daylight bulbs to give brighter, better light. Here's a comparison of the light box set up vs. the flash on my camera.

(For tips on making this shot more appealing see updated post on lighting and color)

As you can see, the flash blows out the subject when you try to get close to it and creates a harsh shadow. It also flattens the image because the light source is only coming from one location straight on. The light box feels nice and soft and helps show off the contours of the subject by providing light from multiple angles.

Once I finished with the light box you simply pulled it apart and all of the panels lay nice and flat so that you can store it easily til the next use!

For other takes on the light box hack, check out:

Steph's light box which is made out of an old box, cloth, and poster board. This one diffuses light instead of bouncing it off the walls


Sara's mini photo studio which is made out of pvc pipe, white sheets, and poster board.

both turned out GREAT! Nice job ladies. :D