The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

My Photography Studio

MacGyver eat your heart out

MacGyver eat your heart out

Here’s my functional if not your typical photo studio. It is sitting on a glass-topped coffee table. When I take my photos, I sit on the floor with legs outstretched under the table – not typical by any means, but easy on my back and I am as stable as I’m going to be. I can hold the camera resting it on the floor of the box if I need to.

The box is a large plastic storage tub with the hinged lid removed. ReinerΒ spray-painted the interior to enhance reflected light. At the bottom left hand side of the box are three pieces that I use for supporting my subjects. The mineral tack and plastic mineral display stand I rarely use. What I do make good use of is the small wedge-shaped styrofoam. And often I don’t use any support other than the curved portion of the backing. Shown in this shot as a black piece of thick art board flexible enough to bend into place. It is held at the bottom by thumb tacks and at the top by the ridge of the tub. I use thin sheets of artists’ sketch paper on top of the black and interchange the backing as suits the mineral, but I shoot most of the specimens on white.

I also make great use of editing software to eliminate any grotesque and intrusive supporting bits. Not always, as you can plainly see from the shots I’ve posted. Lately though, I have become more sensitive to what features make a good picture, and mineral tack is not one of them!

What is also not show here is a piece of what card stock that I use on the left-hand side to reflect light. I used to have a fourth lamp, but I had use for itΒ elsewhere in the house and I never got around to replacing it in the “studio.”

Posted in response to overwhelming public demand. Thanks, Jennifer. πŸ˜‰

 

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Categories: It's a Hobby, Photography

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46 replies

  1. LOL! Necessity is the mother of invention, they say.

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  2. Wow, that is awesome! I would never think about making something like that. It could also be used for product resellers on Ebay or something. Very cool. πŸ™‚

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  3. Nice set up! Long ago I did some product photography involving (junk jewelry rings) and had to have white paper in front (with a hole to shoot through) to manage reflections from the ring bands. Your “studio in a box” is a great idea!

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  4. This is great! very similar to a regular table top studio- but suited even more for your needs. I love that you painted the inside in order to have a reflective surface. Very clever. I tend to sit on the floor to shoot all my pictures too πŸ˜› Thank you so much for posting this for me.

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    • Glad to hear that you sit on the floor, too! It makes for superior stability and less camera shake. Even though mounting the camera on a tripod and using a timed flash would make for better shots, I just don’t have the time to dedicate to the extra steps when I’m processing 30 specimens in one go. Once I get the collection cataloged, I plan to return to the pieces that deserve better and I will make the extra effort.

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  5. And often your demanding public doesn’t even know what it wants till you give it to us πŸ™‚ Thanks, Jennifer, for speaking for the silent masses.

    Very clever studio, Maggie. I’d expect no less of your ingenuity, and it certainly results in some excellent photos.

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  6. You really are a MacGyver. I wondered how you took those fabulous shots! Cool studio πŸ™‚

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  7. I also make great use of editing software to eliminate any grotesque and intrusive supporting bits

    Consider scaling up this concept to society at large. You could become the savior of civilization.

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  8. I just cobbled together something similar from a $1.94 cardboard box from Home Depot. The only real difference was that I cut out big sections from the top and two sides and added a thin white cloth over the cut-outs for the lights to shine through. This made a nice diffused light with minimal shadowing. Not sure if the diffused light would work for your pictures or not. From what I’ve seen, your set-up works awfully well!

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    • I can visualize your set-up. I think it would work perfectly for my minerals, too. Better, even. Some times the light from the lamps is too stark and bounces off the crystal faces leaving whiteouts.

      One of my online mineral contacts, Volker Betz, takes astonishing close up shots. His camera is fixed to a stand above the specimen. Sometimes he places the specimen inside two cheap opaque white bowls and lights it from the outside. His set up is described in an article he wrote for Mindat.

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  9. G’day Maggie,
    How very clever of you, even I who know nothing of taking photos don’t even own a camera can appreciate the ingenuity of your little studio

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  10. How do you prevent the objects from casting shadows?

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  11. I love the way your top two lights are fixed in place. Reiner did agreat job. Clever set up.

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    • Thanks, Christine. A friend was throwing away the lamps. (They are IKEA, by the way.) Reiner had a spare tub kicking around. A cardboard box would have been cheaper, but not strong enough to support the heavy lamps. However, as Retirementally Challenged wrote above, if the lamps were table top, then we could have used a box with holes cut out from the sides and lit from without.

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  12. shaking my head in amazement. Maggie, this is so darn cool!

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  13. I love it, Maggie! Anybody can buy a “rig” (if they can afford it) but it takes real smarts to design your own setup like this. I echo others here- your lighting is really good on your images, particularly your single subject shots (like your stones/minerals, etc.). I once had a computer mic. that I used to record songs that was wrapped up inside of a ripped piece of tee shirt (ghetto pop filter) and was held together with a trash bag tie. Whatever works, yeah? ;0)

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  14. You and Reiner make a great couple – – I am wondering what he does with your regular “Honey Do” lists?

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    • Interesting to note, Reiner makes his own list. There’s only one item on my “Honey Do” list and it involves wallpaper. He promised me next year. We bought the paper two years ago. That should be just about right, yes? If nothing else, the project will make great blog material. If not, evidence for divorce court. πŸ˜‰

      If you’d like to see the before shots, check out this post from earlier this year.

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  15. I say, Maggie – what a terrific setup ! I never stopped to think about how you get all those gorgeous minerals on camera … This is the way inventions come about !

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