Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Talented Tuesday & A Light Box

Good morning! It's bright and early, and I have a sick little girl staying home today. My youngest woke up with a bad cough, so I'm going to be taking her in later to be seen.

Last week, I found out how to make an inexpensive light box, and I went ahead and made it. I've talked about it some, and had several people ask me how. I was going to post it yesterday, but we had a busy day in the morning, then eye appointments in the afternoon. After the drops they put in my eyes, staring at the computer was one of the last things on my list of things to do.

I'm posting it now, though!

Light Box

You'll Need:

5 sheets of white foam board, found at Dollar Tree or Walmart
1 sheet of white poster board, found at Dollar Tree for $.50
1 white plastic table cloth
Ball Point Straight Pins
2-4 Metal clamping "Shop" lights, found at both Walmart & Hardware stores
Bright White light bulbs- it was recommended to me to use Sylvania Daylight bulbs, which I never found. I used Reveal light bulbs, and they have some yellowing to them, which I edit out of the pictures digitally.

In the original instructions I followed, the person used white masking tape (please note- if you use tape, do NOT use duct tape!! The lamp(s) get too hot)

  1. Frame a box shape with the foam board. To hold them together, I used straight pins along the seams. 
  2. Once the box is placed together, you can run hot glue along the seams, but I only did half, then regretted it, which I'll explain later.
  3. Decide which side is the top & bottom. Foam board is rectangular, not square, and I chose for my box to be wider side to side, than taller up and down, so I could fit more items in it. Cut a notch on both sides about 2" wide, and about 4-5" tall, for clamping lamps. This is necessary- the lamps are not close enough, otherwise, and create more shadows.
  4. Using tape, attach the poster board to the back wall on the inside of the box, curving down, and attaching it again to the bottom side of the box. This will help create the seamless background look.
  5. For the tablecloth- it can be used the same way as the poster board, but it covers more area, and can be used to hide the side seams as well as the main seams. It is a bit trickier to work with, though, and it does bunch up. I am currently trying to find a different alternative that would work better than these two.
For the hot glue- Once I had this box assembled, it's HUGE. I had no where to put it. The cats were trying to take it apart. The kids wanted to play with it. I finally decided that it would be best taken apart and re-assembled when needed. I had used glue on two seams, which did not come off.

It created a bi-folding section. But, with the pins out, and the box not assembled, I can hide it behind my desk, where the cats won't tear it apart.

For the lights, I bought 1 at Walmart for $6-something. Then, I stopped at the hardware store, where the week before hand, the same lights had been on sale for $4 each. Well, no one had taken the sign down, so I grabbed two more for $4 each. The guy at the counter looked mad when I asked if they were the ones on sale for $4, but he gave me the posted price.

I used 2 lights the first time. While the photos looked nice and white in the camera, on my computer they were pretty yellow, and the colors did not look true. I asked for some advice, and was told to add the third light, so I did. I did not notice a big difference with the third light, until I played with my camera's settings.

I have a point and click. Well, an advanced point and click, but still just a point and click. If that's what you have, and you notice the yellowing, play with the PASM settings. Ultimatly, I chose to use a 1/200, and a +2.0 on the S setting on my camera. That really whitened things brightly.

From there, I use PICNIK, a free online photo editing tool, to clean up any residual yellowing. For the settings, here is what I do.

  1. Under the EDIT tab, go to COLOR. Choose Temperature. If your photo has a blue tinge to it, slowly go up into positive numbers. If your photo has a yellow tinge to it, slowly go down into the negative numbers. It won't need much, between -10 and +10 is all the further you'll really want to go. Much farther, and the setting will turn the photos blue or yellow in tinting.
  2. Under the EDIT tab still, go to EXPOSURE. This is to help return the colors to a more true state. Up both Contrast and Exposure. Usually no more than 10-15 for Contrast, and 8-12 for Exposure. Contrast should be slightly higher than exposure.
 This little bird from the dollar store was photographed in my light box before I figured out how to adjust the camera settings properly. Notice how peach the left side is, and how much more yellow his breast is. On the right side, I've used the Picnik settings listed above to adjust the colors on the photo, making it much more clear to see.

In addition to the settings above, a white matte frame works to whiten the edges nicely on any photograph. One of my favorite settings is Orton-ish, which I will admit, I over use at times. But it's such a fun setting! Below shows a photo where I used the steps above to white & brighten, then added the white matte, and the Orton-ish setting.

Overall, there is a lot you can do just in editing, to fix the photos up. Below are some of my shots with my new lightbox.

This is with 3 lamps, and the correct light settings. This is as white as I could get the photograph without fading the items out.

This is the exact same photo as above, after editing it on Picnik.com. I whitened it a bit, and rounded the corners. 

This was also taken with the correct camera settings. Overall, even with as white as I could get the items on the camera, they still take a bit of editing.

Since taking the box apart, I've taken to only using two sheets of foam board to take photos. I lean one against the wall, put one on the floor, then I use a chair to clamp my lights to. 

I haven't noticed a difference. So, in the end, you can easily get away with just 2 sheets of foam board, and either a plastic white table cloth, a length of white fabric, or a sheet of poster board.

And without further ado, here's Talented Tuesday!

The Rules

1) Post a blog about something you've made- a refurnish, recipes, a craft project, a sewing project, room decoration, anything you've done!

2) Add a link to your blog post- not to the blog itself, but to the individual posts! You can post more than one project, just add more links! The links should look something like:


and NOT like this:


3) Add the code below to each post you link to the MckLinky, so that others can post their projects here as well! The list will accept new links through Saturday, so if you make something new, come back and post it! Don't forget to look at the links on the list, and let people know where you found their post at!

This MckLinky will remain open and accepting links through Tuesday evening!!


Bonnie @ House of Grace said...

Thanks for hosting, this is my first time here!!!
P.S. I am your newest follower!!!

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting about the light box! I think I'm going to make one of these! It really makes a difference!
Rebekah {All Thingz Related}

Melissa said...

Thanks for sharing how you made your light box! I appreciate it.

Holly Lefevre said...

Great info! I am trying to improve my photography, so love info like this! I am linking up this week and so excited to visit everyone!

504 Main

Embellished Bayou said...

Thanks for sharing. I wish I had the time & patience to take better photos! Thanks also for hosting us aagin!

Ashley @ Joyful Creations said...

I created a light box a few months ago when I was selling jewelry. I did it with tissue paper, cardboard box and poster board. It did good for the short time that I used it. I like yours better. :)

I have a "talented tuesday" post to link to but not sure where I put my link on your blog. Can you help me out? It's my first time joining in.

Expressions by Heather said...

You are welcome, everyone, and thank you!

Ashley- in the post, at the bottom is the MckLinky section. Look for the bright red text, and click it- that will take you to a new page. In the top box, enter in the text you want to show, and in the bottom box, enter in the link, then hit enter or submit. It will show up right away!

Confessions From A Work-At-Home Mom said...

Hey there! I just came across your blog hop, and was wondering if you'd mind if I added it to a list of weekly memes I have at a new website (Http://www.ourmommyhood.com)? Let me know if you'd rather I didn't add it to our list!


Grace @ Ruby Moon Designs said...

Great light box...you really can tell a huge difference in your photos! Fantastic! Thanks for hosting!

Blessings, Grace

Heidi said...

thanks for the light box tute! that's a great idea!

Expressions by Heather said...

Elizabeth, that would be fine with me!!

Thanks everyone :) I do love having the light box, and I'm glad I didn't fully glue it, so I could take it down ;)

Ashley @ Joyful Creations said...

Thanks Heather. NoScript was blocking it and I forgot to allow it. That's why I couldn't see any of it.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the lightbox tutorial. I've gone 'round & 'round about this. Good to know you still had to do some editing.
I've bookmarked Picnik but haven't tried it yet. Not sure if it offers any more, or simpler, features than PH Elements.
Thanks for hosting again! Great party.

Expressions by Heather said...

I have Paintshop Pro, which can do the same stuff, but Picnik is faster- everything is preset with the touch of a button.