Sunday, October 24, 2010

Copy Paper Box, Remixed

I stayed up far too late last night finishing off my new photo implement, but it's finished(ish) now and is working well.  I thought my last post was about making the box, but looking back I see that it wasn't, so looks like I need to start earlier in the process than I anticipated and that I'll have less pictures than I thought.  Alas.

My new light box started life as a copy paper box.  Following the directions in the article, I cut the center out of each side of the box except for one, leaving a 2" border on each side.  Then I covered the inside with poster board, leaving the duller side up.  The article used bristol board, but when I went to get some at Michael's it seemed very similar to poster board, if more expensive, so I figured I'd try the poster board first.  My first WIP shot is from right around this point.
I will call it Clothespinhead.
I had to improvise in a couple ways since my box was different than the sample box.  My box is a single layer of cardboard and not terribly stable on its own, so I reinforced the sides with strips of cardboard.
Mmmm, extra rigidity.
I also filled in the "handle" on what would become the bottom of the box so that when I put something in the box it would have a mostly flat surface to sit on.
All holes filled.
Then I covered the bottom in poster board.  Originally I was going to hang the sheet of poster board from the cut-out back panel, leaving the front completely open (the top of the original format box).  After consulting the plans I reconsidered and hung the poster board from the open end, leaving a frame on the shooting end.  I concluded that the whole idea of the box was to have the light bounce around inside of it, so having a completely open front might have been bad for lighting, though it would have been nice for shooting.  I lightly attached the poster board to the bottom of the box to have the curve on it, then covered the holes with muslin.  After an adjustable desk lamp with a florescent bulb, my box was ready to go.
Ready for action.
I grabbed my Iron Dwarf case, long neglected, for some test shots.  Since the flagship was on top, that was my subject.  Behold!
The beast, unleashed.
One of the issues I need to address is obvious here.  The sheet of poster board that forms the background could be a little longer, but it was as long as I could make it.  As such, the lip is visible.  This isn't horrible and I don't think it ruins the picture or anything, but it is something I want to address.  More of an issue is flat, usable space.  The curve starts perhaps halfway into the box at best.  Combine that with the lip on the front of the box, which is also visible in the bottom right, and the area where I can put a mini and be able to photograph it is small indeed.  This is especially true with the ships here.  Oriented like this, perpendicular to the camera, everything works fine.  If I try to shoot it straight on though...
Unsightly gap ahoy.
Whether or not it shows, the prow of the ship is up the poster board curve and there's a substantial gap between the bottom of the ship and the bottom of the box.  I need to move the poster board back so there's more usable space, but at least I have an idea of how to fix it.  While I was happy enough with the first batch of pictures, I wanted to see how it would look with more light, so I set up my painting light as well and took some more pictures.
Double lights.
Obvious in this picture now is that if I continue to do this, I'll need to find lights that are the same color.  The top light is a little brown, while the side light is a little blue.  In any case, I retook the pictures to see what the difference was.  I didn't find much to choose between them, but I'm soliciting opinions.  Here's roughly the same set-up, but with the second light.
Does this look better?
The second shot looks bluer than the first, but given the difference in the lights that's to be expected.  Overall I'm happy with the results, though I think the top light could be brighter.  The set-up should be easier to put together than the ramshackle combinations I used before, so hopefully that will mean more and better pictures here.

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