Photo Set-up – Studio Series

Here’s installment number two of my studio series – Photo Set-up.

I’ve been at the business of selling on-line now for about 9 years.  When I started out I was using a flat bed scanner to scan beads and jewelry pieces…and I thought I was good because people even asked me to show them how I did it so well.  Ha ha ha!  Thinking back on that I can’t help but laugh.  I should go look for those old pictures.

Anyway, as most of you know, getting good digital images is enough to make you want to pull your hair out if you try it on your own.  It has taken me 9 years to get my photos where I like them, and still I feel they can be improved somehow.  The last 7 or so years have been spent on digital images alone.

From the scanner I went to an expensive Cloud Dome set up.  It was too limiting in that it only allowed 2 angles of shots and I couldn’t fit larger pieces in the viewfinder.  It also took too much of the glare away so it made everything look dull.  Now, unless you’re selling etched pieces, we all know that sparkle sells!  So I sold the Dome. 

Next I think I tried to rig something up with white foam core and it was just a rickety old frame so I followed on-line instructions on how to build my own photo box and used pvc pipe and a white sheet with some drop ceiling light diffusers.  Not bad, if I thought so myself.  I even used it to write an article for WetCanvas! and have gotten feedback that it, and the simple Photoshop Elements tutorial, have helped a lot of people.  While it worked perfectly, we were building a new studio and I thought I’d give a more professional looking set-up a try…that was only for aesthetics though…the sheet and pvc was just as good as my current set up.

Here is what it looks like now.

Lori Greenberg Photo Set up
It’s a collapsing light tent that came with a few different colored backdrops as well as a carrying case.  The inside is a velour type finish and I’m not sure what that does.  I purchased it on eBay for about $29 but I don’t remember the sellers.  Just do a search for ‘light tent’ and you should get a good return.  I have three clamp on lights from Home Depot with GE Reveal bulbs in them.  They are clamped to the ventilation hood over the extra work station.  When I take pictures of flat laying sets I use only the top light and all three when I do shots of focals straight on. 

I have a sturdy floor tripod for my camera (from a Ritz Camera type place) that has multiple adjustment points that I just love…and see that boom?  It allows me to get right in over the beads if I want to.  Of course, my camera, another studio series entry, is a Nikon CoolPix 4500 that they don’t make anymore that swivels so you can see your viewfinder while the lens looks straight down.  You can probably still get them on eBay but there might be newer alternatives out there too.  The boom was $85 from the Set Shop.  A friend told me about it last year and I had to get one.  Warning…it’s not for the light in strength!  This baby is HEAVY and requires a good, strong tripod that will not tip over easily.  If you are going to leave it set up, it will also stick out into your space.  In other words, it’s bulky, cumbersome and I wouldn’t be without it.

I think that’s about it for this installment.  Thanks to Lynn who sent me some feedback on my last installment…I need to update it with information where you can get things.  I hope this one was more comprehensive and will lead you where you need to go if you’d like any of the items I use.  I don’t get anything for promoting them, but I also don’t get slapped for being honest about the things I didn’t like.  That’s not to say that those things won’t work for you.