Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ikea Light Tent

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I ran out to Ikea to purchase some items to make a homemade light tent. Light tents, used to photograph small products, typically cost $100 or $200 if you buy a professional set.

And here's the skivvy:

The hamper that I purchased wasn't solid white nylon, as I'd expected it to be. It was, instead, mesh, so to make it work, I had to throw a white tablecloth over the whole thing. This allowed the light to bounce around the inside of the tent, creating nice, soft diffuse shadows.

I also found it awkward to shoot down the opening of the hamper, which limits your amount of real estate. As a lot of my cards need to be shot standing up, I needed to have a seamless background to photograph my objects against (not just a "floor").

What ended up working for me was to cut a hole in the side of the hamper and shoot from the side. I lay a piece of paper that curves nicely against the roundness of the hamper, creating a natural seamless background.

Something that I found terrifically disappointing was the fact that the flourescent light I used cast a colored light on everything.

Thinking that it would fix the problem, I immediately ran out and purchased some full-spectrum lightbulbs for some table lamps we weren't using any more, but same problem!

I know I can color-correct the images, but I really hadn't wanted to!

My photographer husband explained to me that unless I bought very expensive and extremely bright professional lights, I would need to correct the color.

Or I could adjust the white balance in my camera before I shot the photos. After consulting my camera's owners manual, I figured out how to do this, with much better results.

The final photographs still required a tiny bit of color adjustment after the fact, but still, not bad!

Final damage: $10 for the Ikea hamper, $10 for the Ikea Liesta flourescent light (on clearance right now). Additional needs: white tablecloth, piece of scrap foam core to be the "floor," white posterboard for my "seamless" (from Freddy's, $2).

I purchased the same things for my friend, Wendy, who had better luck with the original tutorial (Wendy just came out with the CUTEST dog collars and leashes to sell on etsy).

So my recommendation? Do it!

(and, while this may be totally unrelated, I'm already in the process of selling a set of the mermaid invitations that I reshot just a few days ago!)

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