DIY Mini macro photography studio

So I finished the necklace yesterday but I still had to take pictures. I have been thinking for some time about making a small macro “studio” to photograph my pieces. I’ve been reading about it here and there, and as I am not ready to spend several hundred € in a ready made setup, doing it myself is the best solution ;P I spent a total of €2 in the mini studio I made this morning.

I searched what I had around and I only found an Ikea corrugated cardboard storage box where my necklace bust would fit. It was a little too big though. So I went on to buy tracing paper to the shop. Tracing paper (well, it is actually some sort of plasticky film that looks like tracing paper, but is much more resistant to creasing, so it is even better for this) turned out to be quite expensive locally (like almost everything really), costing €2 per 50×70 cm sheet. I bought several sheets to have enough for the big box. I also bought an A4 sheet of very reflective dark grey acetate or other sort of plastic. If I lay this over a black paper I might get nice mirror relections for small items like rings and so on. That I still have to experiment with.

I should also buy one or two new busts sometime soon. Or give a fresh layer of paint to mine ;P

Just when I got home with the paper, the postman rang the bell with a package (my makeup making supplies!), which came in a box the perfect size for this :D so in the end one sheet of tracing paper would have been enough.

I cut off the top and sides of the box, leaving about 3 or 4 cm towards the edges to hold the structure. I cut pieces of tracing paper and attached them to eachother and the box with pre-glued paper tape (what you use for picture frames) because I like things to last as long as possible ;P regular wide tape could also be used though. And that is all :)

I set three fluorescent (savings) spot lights (my workshop lights) around the box, only one of which is “daylight”, the others being regular from Ikea, and there was also some general natural light coming from the window on the right. The box softens and diffuses the light nicely.

I have a tripod and I set my camera (which died a few days ago but Pim was able to resucitate) on it, in manual mode. I closed the shutter as much as it would go (f8) to have as much depth of field (focused area) as possible and adjusted exposition accordingly. I left the white balance automatic (it seemed to be doing fine), and set the timer to 2 seconds so that I wouldn’t move the camera when pressing the button. I zoomed in a bit to avoid wide angle distortion, and of course selected macro mode :P

This is the result:

I had read in a commercial website about led lights used to accentuate reflections over diamonds and so on. So I took Pim’s tiny pocket torch, which has a few cool toned led lights, and experimented ponting with them in different directions, pointing directly towards the piece only gave a weird spotlight of cool light, so pointing towards the corners of the box or the sheets of tracing paper was best. This did indeed accentuate the reflections of the crackle quartz beads, that are quite nice in real life, but when the sparkle was accentuated the image took too much of a blue tinge at some sports, so I still have to perfect this (maybe a warmer toned led?):

This is how the entire thing (except the camera, for obvious reasons) looks from the outside:

And just for comparison, here is the necklace photographed in the same spot, with the same lights, but with no box and the beautiful backdrop of my workshop’s mess ;P

This is the picture I selected for submitting to the exhibition, with just a little bit of the led enhancement (quite indirect):

Detail here.

So I submitted the necklace in time (and another pendant too, nothing otherwordly but the submission fee is the same for 1, 2 or 3 pieces ;P) this morning :)

14 thoughts on “DIY Mini macro photography studio

  1. hacias balance de blancos manual?? LOL!
    yo me agobiaba cuando tenía que hacerlo con la cámara de TV, qué moral…

    por lo demás, me encantan tus soluciones, mi abuela diría que eres “apañadísima” oye

  2. So this is how the grownups do it (the light box).

    Do you also send in the piece itself for these things? So they can see the awesome glittery effect that you showed with the moving pic earlier?

    I like what you did with the small chain above the piece. Looks good to have it all framed in icy bits like that.

    1. Dunno, maybe the grownups spend 600€ in the lightbox so that they can look cool while taking the pic too, LOL.

      Yes, it is a… physical? exhibition too. If they select the piece I’ll ship it to the US and it will be there to be seen (and bought if you want to sell it apparently) for some time.

    1. Thanks! there is room for improvement but I did not have the time at the moment. Now I am using a compact camera that is a bit old but has quite a lot of functions including manual, we are thinking of getting a digital SLR camera, which camera do you (or J) use?

    1. Thank you!

      Hey, thank a lot for that link :D the granulation is amazing.
      And the watch enameller video… has given me an idea. Perhaps I could try to find work for a watchmaker… I can do that!

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