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Whatever Works, Dude
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just set this up this week, and toy photos are much easier and much better now. Figured I'd post here to show how easy it actually is and some before/after shots with the same camera:


Short instructions: Get box. Cut holes on 3 sides. Attach velcro over holes and in box. Attach velcro to sheer cloth for sides and to posterboard for the back. Paste posterboard onto sides. Stick everything on. Get 3 desk lamps and 3 100W equivalent bulbs (I'm using daylight CFLs). Take much better pictures.


I used velcro in a few places so I could swap out the side light diffusers (for stuff like acetate/cellophane to do lighting effects) or just remove them, and on the backing so I can put in different color backgrounds or maybe even camo cloth.


In action.

The difference having real light control makes is immeasurable. I'm still using the same camera I ever was. The left photo is before, taken in the best natural lighting conditions I had in the house before with no flash. Right photo is the same figure (with improved eyeglasses) in the lightbox:


One more comparison shot. I had to use a flash and open the aperture wide to get the shot on the left, so depth of field has gone to hell (his head is in focus, but the gun isn't). Lightbox means I can shoot at ISO 200 and still get really deep focus:


I may even try a few shots with my wife's mid-range point-and-shoot or even my iPhone just to see what happens.

Now the only problem is that I'm having too much fun re-shooting old figs to keep working on new ones, let alone all the other stuff I'm SUPPOSED to be doing...:).
 

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21st Century Toys fan
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Edwick, dude, that is awesome! What kind of cloth are you using? Also, how are you lighting the figure from the front - do you still have to use the camera's flash?
 

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Jawa
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So awesome! Thanks for the instructions - the difference in the quality of the pictures is amazing. I am definitely going to try my hand at making my own light box. Thanks!
 

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Whatever Works, Dude
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Edwick, dude, that is awesome! What kind of cloth are you using? Also, how are you lighting the figure from the front - do you still have to use the camera's flash?
:think Honestly, I have no idea what kind of cloth that is :lol. My wife had it lying around and it turned out perfect for what I needed. I think she said it's muslin, but you can probably use a cheesecloth or even an old undershirt. It's just to diffuse the light to make it more even, so any fairly transparent cloth should do. As a side note, the shot that shows the velcro is also showing my cheesy "hem" of the fabric -- I just used FabriTac to keep it from fraying rather than hemming properly. Lazy + cheap == good :D.

I'm also not lighting the figure from the front at all and not using a flash. I read about using rear-sync flash (setting it so that the flash fires at the end of the exposure), and I may try that sometime because it's supposed to make nice, flattering shadows. However, that's strictly optional -- there's enough light in the lightbox that I shot all those photos above at ISO 200 (low noise) at an f/10 or higher aperture (high depth of field) without a flash. Even that last photo of the lightbox in action didn't use a flash.
 

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ta da!! getting there..need brighter bulbs, only got 60 watt and they arent that bright..






lmk what'cha think and thanks for the tips..btw...yeaaaaa..not as easy as one would think to build...lol...mine is very crude, but the end results so far are nice....lol...
 

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Whatever Works, Dude
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Looking good! Brighter bulbs will definitely help -- my first lights were 60-75 watt LEDs and they just weren't bright enough. You may also want to fiddle a bit with your camera's white balance settings. That's why the photos have that slight orange cast to them. Most of cameras are set up to do auto white balance and newer ones are better at it, but setting it manually will give you the best results. Setting my camera's white balance was the only difference between this shot:


First Lightbox Photos by edwick, on Flickr

and this one:


SFC Needleman Reloaded by edwick, on Flickr

The white posterboard in the second shot is actually white, which is how you can tell that your WB is right.
 

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lol..yea, i was testing the settings a bit. ive got a brand new sony cyber shot camera, so it does take good pics, im just still learning about it..lol..thanks for all the tips and stuff...appreciate it...

i do have an LED light on top, so as soon as i can switch it out to a brighter, real bulb light, i will..it's just a stand in for now...i got the other two on clearance at walmart for 4 bucks each(think they were 7 or so)....
 

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Whatever Works, Dude
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Looking good! One other tip I've mentioned elsewhere is also to give a try to the "landscape" setting on your camera. It's the one with two mountains on it. The reason is that it will turn off the flash and amp up your depth of field, so everything in the picture stays in focus. If you want to focus in on something specific, you can use the portrait setting, but keep that flash off. Flash photos suck.

re: backgrounds. When I set up my black posterboard as a background for my lightbox, I'll let you know :). My plan was to play some lighting games for the summer group bash (and, now, the CalTek contest bash) with a dark background and much less light to see if I can get some good, moody, shadow-y effects. It doesn't quite look the same in a pure-white lightbox:


Playing with Lighting by edwick, on Flickr

is not anywhere near as striking or dramatic an image as the album cover I've attached below, and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to get anything like it without a dark background or a lot of photoshopping. Not to say it can't be done (this image is one of my favorites I've ever seen here, and it was taken in front of a bright window), but I'm also of the belief that the less messing you have to do after the picture is taken, the better.

Anyway, the beauty of digital photography and the cheapo lightbox is that experimentation is cheap and easy and nobody has to see all the crappy photos you take but you, unless you want to share. If the black posterboard doesn't work out, I'm just out the 79-cents-plus-tax and the time it took to put it together. For every photo I've taken and posted, there's at least 3-4 that sucked. I'll probably even share some of them as examples of what NOT to do 'cuz I've been thinking of a "Serious Amateur's Guide to 1/6 Photography" thread to dump what info I know. I'm not lukazou or any of the other hardcore photographers on the forum, but I know my way around an SLR and there's not much you need to know to take much better pictures.

However, I'm happy to see that at least two people have found out so far that one of them is to build a lightbox :D. If people take better pictures, then I can see what they did better and steal their ideas to make better bashes :nanana
 

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two different settings..one that has the WB set to white(with one push setting)..the other is landscape...

landscape


WB set

with a few tweaks on the ol' image viewer program...i figured out that i can auto adjust the brightness in the background and it improves it a ton..(same pic)


which one looks better?
 

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ok, now im just having fun with my wifes monster high doll...wow..works for other stuff too!! lol...im sooooooooooooo glad that i found this thread...





works on non doll/figures too...some repaints that i did awhile back...anywho..i am having a blast doing new pics now...thanks again!!



 
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