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Thread: Cheapskate....

  1. #1
    Scout's Avatar
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    Cheapskate....

    I am a cheapskate. I photograph paintings. I have put together my own lighting to do this. I (please don't laugh) cut out holes in the bottom of 2 styrofoam ice chests and placed those shiny aluminum bowl type bulb holders in them. Two 3200 k bulbs. I covered the front of the chests with white cloth. And no I can't keep them on long.

    I place the light contraptions about 6 feet at an angle on either side, shining on the painting. Am I fooling myself at the quality this might give me? I've been shooting them this way for a while.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Cheapskate....

    Shirley

    Have you any examples of the results doing this, that you can post up. I think that will help people tell you whether it works or not.

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    Re: Cheapskate....

    This is a painting in WC 22"X 30". I photographed it that way.

    Don't worry, I'll get it in here soon.Cheapskate....
    Last edited by Scout; 25th September 2011 at 05:28 PM.

  4. #4
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Cheapskate....

    Hi Shirley,

    Welcome to the CiC forums from me.

    I certainly won't laugh at your methods, although I am concerned; hot lamps and styrofoam (I believe this is known as polystyrene in UK) are a potentially lethal combination.

    It does sound like you're aware of the dangers, but if you ever got distracted by a phone call or door caller and left them on
    I guess it depends how disciplined you are at turning them off because if they did ever catch fire, the smoke and fumes are toxic, it burns readily and would probably be hard to extinguish in those quantities.

    I would be less concerned if you were using cooler running lamps like the compact fluorescents (5500 K).

    And yes, if anyone is wondering, I am a fire marshall at work, so I have seen the training films of how a fire spreads.
    I have also seen polystyrene burn (before I knew the risks, but it was outside)


    My table top photography set up is to put the subject in a light tent (to ensure even illumination) and have free standing, and hence well ventilated, tungsten lamps of 30 and 60W in those gooseneck lampholders, this lowers the risk of the bulb touching anything or getting overheated. However, I appreciate this isn't to useful for larger artwork.

    I too would like to see what you achieve.

    Take care,

  5. #5
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    Re: Cheapskate....

    Hello Donald. Hi Dave, thanks for the warning! I need a better setup. All of my work is that big and life size sculptures too. So a table top outfit would not do for me. Any suggestions for a better (safer) set up for my purposes would be appreciated. I have looked at a lot of lights but am confused as to what would be best for me.

    I print my own work too so I need good quality photos. Anyone else print their own large or medium format photos? That's for another thread I guess.

  6. #6

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    Re: Cheapskate....

    Lighting is a bit confusing, and you might get fooled by the Ra99 rating of incandescent lamps, which are in fact inferior to the 5500K daylight fluorescent lamps for colour work. The catch is that Ra-values are estimated from comparison to a "standard" light source, and the standard for colour temperatures below 5000K is - you might guess it - an incandescent lamp. That light has substantially more yellow and red than daylight and less violet in comparison. The result is that it is difficult to get "correct" colour with incandescent lamps, unless you would compare it to what it looks like under incandescent lighting. The citation marks around "correct" are there, because you cannot in fact reproduce colour correct at all, but maybe a good bit on the way if you have the right lighting.

    The reason why you cannot ever get perfect colour is that the gamut of the camera is not the same as the real world; we have something called "colour space", there are a couple to choose from, but none includes all possible colours. Your paintings however might have colours that cannot be reproduced in a photograph. The most difficult ones are very saturated colours any hue and particularly some violet colours. If you are careful however, you can get pretty close.

    Your setup is indeed correct otherwise; it is pretty much standard for reproduction to have two lamps at approximately 45 degrees angle from each side.

    I don't know what the market has to offer when it comes to fixtures in your neck of the woods, but look for fluorescent lamps, opt for a colour marked 954 (Ra 90+, 5400K). It is essential that the fluorescent tube reaches correct working temperature when you shoot, to get consistent colour. The coolest point of the tube should have a temperature of approximately 43C. Somewhat hotter does not matter much, but if it is substantially hotter, the colour shifts toward green, and it becomes impossible to get good colour rendition. Mostly if you have compact fluorescents, their cool spot is the one furthest from the mount, and straight tubes have it either in the middle (most) or in one end, the one with markings (T5 tubes). The cool spot will reach correct temperature if it points downward when the lamp has free air around it at room temperature.

    I was a lighting technician working with fluorescent lighting till I retired, so I have my own lamps for this kind of work. I hope you find some suitable fixtures; I believe there should be such fixtures on the market.

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    Re: Cheapskate....

    you might have a look at books.google.com. A while ago I stumbled upon a book in there called "Digital Photography for Next to Nothing"
    The book is full of tips tricks and solid DIY alternatives to usually pretty expensive kit. (and books.google is showing quite a lot of its contents as a preview)

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    Re: Cheapskate....

    ThanksInka, I have spent the day looking at lights on line. I get distracted with all the extra tips. It looks like compact fluorescent lights are a good bet. Saw some hoods designed for the side ways light that these shaped lights need to make the best use of the light. So many choices! I'm going to do some more searching and get back to you for your opinions. Thanks again.

    Hero, Thank you, I will check out that book.

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    Re: Cheapskate....

    I see we have another Scout in the forum, is there a particular story behind your screenname?

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    Re: Cheapskate....

    Hi Shadowman, yes, it's from To Kill a Mockingbird. I grew up in a town just like that one and looked just like her. I also followed my older brother around just like she did, I have the scars to prove it. I also use this name because I never liked my real name.

    Is there another Scout on here?

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Cheapskate....

    Quote Originally Posted by Scout View Post
    ~ because I never liked my real name ~
    I blame the parents!




    (no offence intended)



    Quote Originally Posted by Scout View Post
    Is there another Scout on here?
    Yes "ScoutR" or Wendy as we know her

  12. #12
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    Re: Cheapskate....

    Yeah, LOL, I always have.

    I am not looking for offense!

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    Re: Cheapskate....

    I am wondering if you cound not mount this type of flourescent light fixture on some sort of a stand and use a pair of them at 45 degree angles to the art work you wish to photograph.

    http://www.lowes.com/pd_184349-13537...r|1&facetInfo=

    They would give a wide relatively even light and should cover even the largest size artwork. Possibly the built-in diffusers might be enough to work for you but, if you need more diffusion, you could cover the front of the lights with a diffusion fabric such as this...

    http://www.amazon.com/ALZO-Softbox-D.../dp/B0019HZQSO

    This certainly should be safer than working with a Styrofoam cooler. And, I don't believe that the cost would be prohibitive...

  14. #14
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    Re: Cheapskate....

    Quote Originally Posted by Scout View Post
    Hi Shadowman, yes, it's from To Kill a Mockingbird. I grew up in a town just like that one and looked just like her. I also followed my older brother around just like she did, I have the scars to prove it. I also use this name because I never liked my real name.

    Is there another Scout on here?
    When i saw your location I had a suspicion that would be the case. Our other Scout is from up North and was not familiar with the movie reference. And there's nothing wrong with Shirley.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Cheapskate....

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    And there's nothing wrong with Shirley.
    Absolutely, I had a crush on a girl named Shirley when I was a helluvalot younger (my best friend's sister)

    so the name Shirley (ahhh!) always brings back fond memories

  16. #16
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Cheapskate....

    I was also wondering about the kind of lights Richard has suggested

  17. #17
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    Re: Cheapskate....

    Good morning!

    Richard, do you think I can do medium format prints from pictures I take with regular fluorescent bulbs? I'm using 2 tungstons 3200k each now. I'm not using these styrofoam chests again. Thanks for those links. Have you ever photographed art before?

    John, yes I am a southern girl, although born in Mich.

    Dave, sweet!

    Did you guys look over the painting to see if it has been photographed well? Have you ever photographed bronzes before? I get it too dark or too shiny.

    I'm going to get some of that diffusing cloth at least for now. Thanks you for your time! S

  18. #18

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    Re: Cheapskate....

    To my experience, a naked tube often does better than in an enclosure like the "wrap" type; they simply get too hot and shift to a greenish tinge. When the tube has free air circulating, it usually attains the correct cool spot temperature to emit a colour balanced output. So a fixture can be very simple. At 45 degrees angle, there won't be any shadows on a painting, and you only need to make sure the lamps do not directly light the lens, which may cause veiling glare.

    When checking light quality declared by the manufacturer, avoid tubes marked 33, 35 and similar. There are tubes marked 12 that are OK (860), but look for the three digit code, where first digit is quality and the other two colour temperature in hundreds of K. Hence 860 is Ra 80+ 6000K and 954 is Ra 90+ 5400K. The 954 colour is in my opinion the best one for photography. Wait for about 5 minutes from starting the light so that the tubes have heated up and stabilised; when cold, the colour is not the same, and they supply less light.

    So the very simplest setup might serve well, two naked straight tubes at 45 degrees angle toward the subject; avoid shiny reflectors that may cause uneven light, but rather use matte aluminium or no reflector at all. Digital does not have any reciprocity problems, so the level of light is not critical. If the camera is on a tripod, you can expose for as long as you need without any colour shift.

  19. #19
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    Re: Cheapskate....

    Inka, (may I call you that?) thank you for that information. So you don't think I need anything more than 2 fluorescent straight bulbs in their regular casing? No cloth over them? 954 is the best one. OK that's great! I'll try that. Should I remove their plastic covers? And do you think I need one on either side as long as it doesn't hit the lens? How about top lit.

    Another question... Do I need to be sure there is no other light hitting the subject? Like outside light or ceiling lights? Thank you again for your insight.

  20. #20
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    Re: Cheapskate....

    Look what I found. http://diyphotography.net/how-to-build-24-diy-softboxes You all may have already seen this. What do you think of some of these?

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