Have you entered my contest to win your choice of Vanna’s Choice yarns and a PlanetJune pattern? It’s open until Thursday – don’t forget to get your entry in!
I thought you might like to see my new photo studio and a glimpse behind the magic (ha!) that goes into my crochet pattern photos. Things have changed for the better since I last showed you my light tent setup and tutorial photography setup. My photo setup in Canada included 2 swing lamps and 2 goose-neck lamps (all with daylight bulbs) and my light tent:
Light tent in the good old days
It worked well, and I was happy with it. The only problem was when I made something too large to photograph in the light tent (e.g. Reepicheep, dinosaur group shots): then I had to fall back on the (thankfully) good natural light in my craft room and wait for a bright, overcast afternoon to give me the right conditions to shoot in daylight.
My new craft room has no natural light to speak of – our house is on one level, the windows are small, and there are trees right outside my window, so it’s dim inside on even the sunniest day. (I’m sure this will be a blessing in the heat of the South African summer!)
Pretty view, but dark interior
As I couldn’t bring my old lamps with me (wrong voltage), I had to sell them all before I left and buy everything again at this end. There’s no IKEA or equivalent here, and 4 lamps and 4 bulbs at South African prices was not an appealing prospect. I also couldn’t find those daylight-coloured bulbs anywhere…
All these factors made a perfect excuse to upgrade my setup and invest in some professional lighting. I found an excellent local photographic shop, Studio22, who helped me to find a pro lighting solution that was within my budget. I bought 2 light stands, 2 fluorescent lamp heads (each with 2 sockets), 4x38W daylight bulbs (expensive, but they should last for years), and 2 translucent white umbrellas.
The new setup
And oh, what a difference!
- I can light my static scenes with an even light without having to fiddle with 4 lamps to get them all into position.
- The bulbs are cool, so I can shoot for hours without raising the temperature in my room.
- Without the confines of my light tent, I can light anything that fits on my desk, at any time of day or night.
- I can set up to shoot a tutorial or video and light the scene much more easily and evenly (and without roasting under the hot lights!)
Of course, nothing is perfect: my craft room isn’t huge, and those umbrellas take up a lot of room! When I have it all assembled, I have to pick my way around them to reach the computer. And this desk is also my sewing table, so I have to get everything out of the way if I want to set up my sewing machine. It’s really not a big deal, though: to dismantle, I just furl the umbrellas and move the light stands (still set up and plugged in) and camera tripod to the corner of the room. When I next need a photo, it only takes a minute to set it all up again.
Setting the scene (that’s my camera in the foreground)
On the desk, I create my scene. In this case, I have:
- My handpainted ‘dappled forest’ backdrop, stuck to the wall with sticky tack. (I painted this backdrop for my AfricAmi set in 2008, and I’m so relieved it survived the move without the paint cracking.)
- A fabric ‘ground’
- Fake foliage courtesy of the dollar store (I really miss dollar stores for buying props!)
- And, of course, the star of the show – my Aardvark in this case
I complete the setup with my camera on a tripod in front of the desk. I use the remote control (toe-operated!) when I’m making tutorials or videos, sat behind the camera with my hands in view, and otherwise take photos the regular way.
Hopefully my pattern photos will now be so irresistible that the business will repay my equipment investment in no time!