November 03, 2011
Shoot and Edit: Week 43 – Costumes…EDIT (Guest Tutorial)
Welcome to the 43rd week of Shoot and Edit: Part 2. Click HERE for all the details and upcoming prompts/themes (also including previous editing tutorials). This week’s theme or prompt was to show us one “Costumes” SOOC shot (this was just a suggestion, you can show us any SOOC shot). Hopefully you linked up with Jill’s blog earlier this week.

This week, I’ve asked Rosie, who blogs over at Leaves N’ Bloom Photography, to share a creative lesson with us. This is one of those lessons that may not directly apply to our theme this week, but will definitely prepare us all as we head into cooler temperatures and less daylight. Please give Rosie a warm welcome!

Leavesnbloom PhotographyI’ve been given the privilege of having my very own mid-week scavenger hunt here on Ramblings and Photos! As winter approaches most of us will be spending more time photographing indoors rather than outdoors so I’m going to show you how to make a table top digital photography studio otherwise known as a light box. It’s very easy to make and only costs a few dollars/pounds to make.

For this mid-week scavenger hunt, you’re going to have to find the following items around the house: 
  • A cardboard box – my box dimensions were 15 inches tall x 14.5 inches wide x 15 inches deep. Don’t have the box too big as you’ll have to store it when it’s not in use. It’s also easier to work with a smaller box than one that is too big as the kids will just want to play with it too. 
  • Sellotape (duct tape)
  • 3 sheets of tracing paper – mine were each A4 side (12 inches x 8 inches)
  • At least 1 meter length of white strong cardboard (shirt board) that bends and is wide enough to fit inside your box. Any art/craft shop will sell this.
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Marker pen
  • A strong light source/lights

Here’s a little taste of one of the shots I took recently from my little studio:
 using 50mm 1.4 lens at f2.8, ISO 125 and shutter speed 1/5s with tripod
Once you’ve sourced all your materials, the light box won’t take long to make and it really will improve your SOOC’s and save you time post-editing.

1. Place your box on it’s side with the four flaps facing you. Cut the top and the bottom flap off, leaving you with a flap on the left and right hand side of the box. This helps direct light into the box as well as being a useful pair of handles for carrying the box.
2. Next, you need a ruler to draw a rectangle on three sides of the box slightly smaller than the size of your tracing paper (you need something for the tracing paper to stick on to). One rectangle on the top and one on the left and one on the right hand side of the box. My rectangle windows each measure 11 inches x 7.5 inches. 
3. Then cut out around the marked edges of the rectangles.
4. You now need to sellotape the tracing paper over each of those cut-out windows on the outside of the box. The tracing paper acts like a diffuser just like outside on a cloudy day. 
5. Measure the width inside your box and cut your much firmer shirt board to that width. Mine is 14.5 inches wide and *1 meter long. 
6. I’ve never needed to line the rest of the inside of the box. Just in case you end up photographing a little bit of the broad cardboard inside the box, you can usually crop that bit out of the photograph afterwards.  
7. Place a strong light on either side of the box facing the tracing paper so that the light pours into the box. 

Tips When Using Your Light Box:
  • As you can see, I didn’t use a table for the shots shown here, but my husband’s chair and his “mother and child” floor lamp, and a couple of cushions for the box to sit on. I wasn’t keen on that new light of his as it didn’t fit with the decor of the room, but hey, I could see it’s potential for my photography immediately (though I didn’t tell him that!).
  •  If I’m directing light into the box from the kitchen table, I place an old small table lamp with no shade at each side and adjust the light by moving them closer or further away from the box. 
  • The secret to getting good SOOC’s with this light box is setting your white balance correctly. I found that having my degrees of Kelvin around 2500-2800 was good for the colour of light that I was using when I took this shot of the leaves. My white isn’t gleaming white, but pretty good I think for being SOOC and I’m still learning how to work with the degrees of Kelvin indoors.
  • Another thing I did with the shot above was just to slightly overexpose it without blowing out too many highlights as my own in-camera light metering/exposure compensation just wasn’t as accurate in these conditions and it took a few experimental shots to get it nailed. 
  • Sometimes I use a tripod. Other times, I prefer to shoot handheld at different angles into the box. I’ve also found that the closer you get to the subject, the better colour of white background you can achieve SOOC.
  • If you are not happy with the shadows inside the light box, you can adjust the external lighting that is facing your light box and move it closer to the tracing paper or make the light stronger by having the light source from both the top and the sides. 

Editing in Photoshop: 

Just in case you’re still not happy with the colour of white in your SOOC’s, you can open the shot in Adobe Camera Raw (or Lightroom) and adjust the white balance with the eye dropper. Another way, is to choose the selective colour adjustment tool later in Photoshop and select “white,” and then slide the back slider to the left to make the white brighten just a bit more.
Or, if you really want the white to be really white just like you’d see in a magazine advertisement, you can go into your level adjustments layer and choose the white eye dropper and place it on the white of the background to whiten the white a little more. This is what I did with my first shot in the blog post.
Finally, here’s a comparison of the SOOC with both the selective colour adjustment and levels adjustment made in Photoshop so that you can compare the whiteness of each background.
I didn’t intentionally set out to make this tutorial one on making whites whiter in Photoshop as I’m not an expert in that sort of thing, but I hope that through making this light box, it will help improve your indoor still life SOOC shots without using a flash.

Have a great Thursday,

Wasn’t that an awesome tutorial. Thanks so much Rosie! Considering that next week’s prompt is “Macro,” I think we can quickly apply this lesson!
Good to WOW

By the way, don’t forget to add your edited photo to our good to WOW {EDIT} Flickr Group (for those of you that prefer to upload and visit that way). When adding your photos to the group pool, be sure to include the Week #, the Theme and EDIT in the description section. You may upload one photo per week. I also want to point out that we are all here to improve our editing skills. When offering constructive criticism (either on Flickr or within blog comment sections), be sure to point out at least one thing you really like about the edit before offering any advice for improvement.