'No Frills' $75.00 home studio tent/lightbox

Discussion in 'The Gallery' started by SharpByCoop, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. SharpByCoop

    SharpByCoop Enjoying the discussions Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 8, 2001
    Hey Chris,

    Looks like you really paid attention! Very well done, and the results speak for themselves. What internal settings did you use for color balance on your camera? It looks good.

    If you travel down to Norwalk sometime I could show you even more. Thanks for the nice post. :)


    BTW, I have gotten emails from International lurkers and makers who have thanked me for getting them going with this. It's a worldwide movement! ;)

  2. Chris Meyer

    Chris Meyer

    Aug 15, 2005
    I tried various settings, but I think the ones that came out the best were set for macro focus, "cloudy outdoor lighting" (white balance), and an exposure compensation of -.3EV. I'm using a 5 megapixel Kyocera S5R on a tripod. I pretty happy with the results but I still need to experiment more with my camera settings and then play around in Photoshop CS. Thanks again :) . -Chris
  3. Murray White

    Murray White

    Feb 17, 1999
    did you get "daylight flourescents"? are you using a flourescent white balance? if you have daylight ones, just use auto but if not then use the flourescent WB. you don't want "green" blades.

    Make sure that the diffusion material is kept absolutely "taut". Dips will create shadows you don't want.

    It looked like you used cardboard to creat a box. what is the color of the inside fo the box? Use either white or silver on the interior.

    Frankly, for the cost, I find that now companies are making good boxes to be used. The "digital photo box" is good but could be improved if they would also allow for the back side to pass light thru it. However for compactness and easy of use, I'd now recommend it compared to even building ones own.

    take a look at www.boothphoto.com

    or look at this page

    http://www.henrys.com/webapp/wcs/st...ay?dest=frames.jsp&currency=USD&storeId=10001 or


    the 16" model is shown but that is too small so look at the large (no photo but a price of $111 US)

    for lighting, I'd recommend the Tristar light at http://tinyurl.com/4vqt8 for about $70 US. Unfortunately there is no product info but I find it works well.

    Get a light stand by Manfrotto. Actually, here is a link to a Tristar stand for about $50 http://tinyurl.com/4vqt8


    this John White hunter/utility knife was done with the setup described and the use of the Nikon 995 on full auto. If you want to go to the site where I am hosting the image, www.fototime.com >guest login>[email protected] you can look at the original full size image and maybe while not quite as sharp as what Coop gets from his Canon and smaller lens opening and better image editing work, it is more than acceptable for most folks using to show the knife.

    Digital image software is Microsoft Digital Image Pro 10 which I find to be a very easy and complete software suite to use and is easily available on EBay for less that $50 and if you use the receipt from Paypal and the box has the UPC there is a $30 rebate available from Microsoft.
  4. SharpByCoop

    SharpByCoop Enjoying the discussions Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 8, 2001
    :thumbdn: Every link is a storefront with nothing specific, and your advice invalidates Chris's obvious good work and my do-it-yourself approach. I'm sure with a few trials on other color settings he will get the image even better--but not by purchasing more crap.

    I have YET to see a storebought softbox AND lighting setup that will accomodate long knives work nearly as well. And absolutely nothing for close to $75.00 total cost.

    YOU don't use such, so why would you advise it??

  5. Chris Meyer

    Chris Meyer

    Aug 15, 2005

    Thanks for the suggestions, but I'm very pleased with the results with my home made light box (using Coop's design). With a little practice and a further review of my camera's owner's manual, I should be do even better. The point of the exercise was to get some decent pictures without breaking the bank. I think that I have accomplished that goal, and like the fact that I was able to make it myself. -Chris
  6. Neko2

    Neko2 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 18, 2003
    I work at a (fedex) Kinko's and usually throw away a good deal of foamcore weekly. If you ask real nice most of the stores will give you the scraps and depending on the store, the scraps can be pretty darn big.

    I know of all the parts the foam is somewhat cheap but i figured hey, why not?

    Send me an email if you're in the detroit area and I might be able to get you some scraps.

  7. Murray White

    Murray White

    Feb 17, 1999
    well, Coop, actually I am using the setup I spoke of and showed the image as suggested. Strange that the links did not show the item as they did when I created them from the Henry's website. The box I speak of is almost as large as the one I created a few years back.

    At that time there just was nothing in the low cost area that would do the job but since there now is, I thought it worthwhile to mention such a thing.

    as far as the light is concernced, the one light I suggested is certainly no more expensive than purchasing three bulbs, reflectors and clamps. I know I could not do it up here.

    The handy thing about the device of which I spoke is that it folds down and carries in a case so takes up no room when not required but is portable.

    I have used both types of devices. Both work. one takes time to create and time is $. Add that expense (alternative cost) to the whole process and the total expense is likely to be very similar. Whatever one uses is up to the individual. I just found this item and thought it worth providing as info to anyone wishing to do digital imaging of knives.

    Also, regarding the adjustments of color settings etc., I have been doing images of my knives and others for a few years now with the Nikon 995 and have never used it on anything but AUTO which is the reason I like daylight flourescents.
  8. tom mayo

    tom mayo

    Jan 27, 1999
    I have a setup that is very similar to that, but cant get rid of the shadow in the front, it drives me crazy!? Tom
  9. RogerP


    Feb 28, 2002
    Tom, try using a reflector (foil covered piece of carboard will work) to throw some light in front of the blade and both eliminate the shadow and give you a better look at the underside of the handle.

  10. Ebbtide


    Aug 20, 1999
    Sometimes a plain white board (fomecore) will kick in enough light.

    And speaking of foam board, there is a stronger version called Gatorboard, or Gator foam. It is harder to cut (with a razor knife, super easy with a saw) but a good deal stronger. Yesterday I built a table with gator, using a jig saw and hot glue.

    Hot glue and foam board go together like soup and sandwich ;)

    One word of caution, the edges on foam board will give you the paper cut from hades.
    Especially the gator board. I sand the edges on that to dull it down.
  11. tom mayo

    tom mayo

    Jan 27, 1999
    thanks guys, will give it a try tommorrow. TM
  12. SharpByCoop

    SharpByCoop Enjoying the discussions Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 8, 2001
    Tom, buried wayyyy back in page two I did a back-to-back display of the white reflector and one with a patch of foil covering. Look at the results... :eek:

    Go for it. Let us know.

  13. Joss


    Nov 20, 2001

    How would you modify this set up to photography swords? Would one "just" need to widen the box and add one or 2 lights? Also, could you give us the measurement of the PVC tubes?


  14. SharpByCoop

    SharpByCoop Enjoying the discussions Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 8, 2001
    Hi Joss,

    Good question. Lest I give you an authorative answer, I will submit that even I have not lengthened my box to verify for sure. I think it would work just fine.

    I have *just* made it work with some small swords in my existing setup, and for the really big swords, I have done something completely different: I have laid the sword down on the floor and shot from overhead with my strobes bouncing off the ceiling. Here's proof:

    Sword setup

    Sword photo

    Current setup ( Photo from Dr. Darom's book)

    In the end you can still get a clean image. It's still diffused light. One problem from working that big an object is you need to get farther up to include the whole piece. My low (only 6') studio ceiling would not support my table setup, so I experimented on the floor and I made things work out without a major modification to the box.

    I have had to refuse swords at a show, because I am simply not setup for that. My loss.

    My tent now is about 36"x24". The above photo was made especially for the 3rd Dr. Darom book '100 Custom Knifemaking Projects in the Making' to show me photographing the 'kit' knife I made for my section. :thumbup: :p ;)

  15. pjsjr

    pjsjr Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 2, 2005
    Coop, Thanks again for sharing so freely your knowledge and experience:thumbup: . I built and enjoy using the $75. lightbox and have just seen several modifications in your last post that I will make to further my enjoyment. Preston
  16. nozh2002

    nozh2002 Banned BANNED

    Jun 9, 2003
    Nothing wrong with direct light and light spots, it makes picture more interesting IMHO. In this setup however most important part is that you have wight top which reflected in the polished blade, but you may put some light under it and make lighting bit uneven, also highlight some parts, like point one light directly to the handle from low angle to get rid of shadows which make Ken so unhappy. It not only get rid of shadow but actually may highlight this part of knife to its benefit.

    You may even put all light under this wight top and point one to it. What the point to have several good expensive light sources to mix all of them together and make it even. Playing with scrins which reflected in the blade it is possible to light blade planes and edge differently.

    Just my 5 cents...

    Thanks, Vassili.
  17. Joss


    Nov 20, 2001
    Very cool Jim - thanks for sharing.

    So you don't use a tripod I see? Also, what is that cable - do you upload the pics directly onto your HD?
  18. Dan Gray

    Dan Gray

    Jun 25, 2001
    as you can see on the lap-top beside him, you are looking at real time through the lenz

    I'm sure he uses a tri-pod also ;)
    Jim THanks again for the thread :thumbup:
  19. SharpByCoop

    SharpByCoop Enjoying the discussions Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 8, 2001

    I wish it was as simple as pointing the lights at the ceiling and 'click' it's done. I spent about twenty shots moving and adding lights (I usually only use two strobes) to get the display as I wished. Each time you move the lights it changes the look. As you know. Getting an even reflection on that LONG polished blade only looks easy. :D You are right; positioning makes a lot of difference.

    Jim Weyer uses fairly hard lighting a lot. There are many ways to git 'r done.

    Joss, I shoot with the tether and see on my 15" screen my images within seconds. I also capture the images on a card. After I view and select the ones I want I delete the unneeded on the card and carry the remaining upstairs to my office for editing. The laptop stays downstairs. Using the large screen really helped me understand my lighting changes and see minute imperfections. It's a valuable tool for me.

    No tripod. That's right. I shoot at 1/125" second at around f-16 and hand hold ALL my shots. Feel free to debunk my method, but I have been doing it successfully this way for years. Tripods get in my way and make me slower. It's another adjustable variable in positioning that I use effectively. The strobes capture the image so sharply in milliseconds that in comparisons I did, there was no gain or loss. I also use the 'mirror lockup' to minimize vibration at the capture. ( first click swings the relatively heavy mirror out of the way blocking my viewfinder. Second click without moving releases the much lighter shutter.)

    Too much info. Now I have to kill you all..... :eek: ;) :cool:

  20. Dan Gray

    Dan Gray

    Jun 25, 2001
    Cheater :rolleyes: :D
    OK use to use tripods

    Teach me to open my mouth :rolleyes: :)

    Jim on MY camera I have real time I can even hook it up to my 53" big screen TV and see what I'm shooting

    is this about how you are doing it? but with the laptop? or was I wrong :eek:

    that's why I was thinking tripod so you could adjust the shots

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