Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Photo cube

Yesterday, Robin went to the States to pick up our parcels from our P.O. box.  We had three boxes from three different online stores -- sent some harp music cds that I've been waiting to get for a few months as well as some history books for Sarah's school.  She's studying the ancient world this year from creation to about the Fall of Rome.  So the box included an English translation, with parallel Greek and Latin text,  of the writings of the patristic fathers, as well as "The Annals of the World" by Usher.  And a special treat for her, the sequel to "Do Hard Things" -- "Start Here."  More about these books in another post.

Another box contained my order from Dharma -- cotton bags for our knitting kits, charmeuse silk scarves for dyeing with natural dyes and shibori, and Sarah's favorite devore scarves for dyeing with her woad.  Perfect timing as the Farmer's Markets start this week and the woad bed is being cleaned up of all the second year plants -- right into the dye vat.

The third box was for the workshop that we are organizing for the Boundary Artisan Association on "Using Your Digital Camera to Photograph your work."   Its being taught by former art photographer, Jason Coleman.  We needed one of those white photo tents to set up for the workshop to show people how to use it. I found one online from Steve Kaeser Lighting and Photography supply.

The one we got sets up on a table top -- great option, as I don't have to clean up a corner of the studio to make a decent background anymore.  You can also use the photo tent outdoors with natural daylight.  It provides a seamless background, and the nylon backed velveteen fabric diffuses the light so that there are no harsh shadows on your work.  The kit comes with two detatchable backgrounds -- black and white.  The lights in this kit are full spectrum compact florescent with the equivalent candle power of a 300 watt tungsten light bulb -- pretty bright.  The kit (sku:6220) was $100 but the 30 inch photo tent alone was a mere $44.  And it can be used outdoors in natural daylight.  Steve Kaeser also carries a smaller 16 inch tent kit with two halogen lights and a camera tripod, for photographing smaller items like jewelry for only $45.  These halogen lights heat up so you can't leave them on for an all day photo shoot.  But you can turn them on just when you want to take a picture, so its a minor inconvenience.

I set the photo tent up last night after dinner and took a few pictures to see how it worked.  I'm pleased with the results.  Its a big improvement over my usual photos.  In fact, I've been embarrassed by my lack of photography skills and so taking pictures of my work has been pretty low on the priority list.  That's one reason my artfire store was a complete failure -- no product pictures -- no sales.  So I'm hoping this workshop and the investment in a photo tent studio system will change that.

Picture before the photo tent, using a flash with a room light.

Using the photo tent and lighting kit, using the camera flash and the two full spectrum complact florescent lights in the kit.Without the camera flash the carved heart on the lucet didn't show up.

Larger items in the 30inch photo tent without the camera flash and just the two light stands -- black background:

This hat is handspun silk with metal butterfly beads and even without the flash the silk has a lot of reflection, which makes the detail of the handspun yarn hard to capture.  I will try it again with the lights pointing differently.

I liked how this angora hat turned out with the black background. 

And here it is again with the white background.  I will need to iron the background before the workshop.

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