there’s a light box in my house

As anyone who has ever listed anything to sell online will tell you, getting a great photo of the item is essential. Getting that great photo is also surprisingly difficult. I have as yet to achieve great photos. That’s not to say I haven’t improved over time. I cringe when I see my first photos and, if I continue to improve and eventually take great photos, I have no doubt I will cringe over the ones I have now.

When I first started, I read all the help guides and forum threads. I quickly learned the camera basics: flash off, use the auto setting, select macro, a bit of zoom, and get a tripod. The truly tricky part for me was, and still is, lighting. Normal room lighting doesn’t work. Your photo ends up murky. Eventually, I found the perfect spot in my backyard. The natural lighting saved me. However, it is now 18 degrees outside and I hate it when the tips of my fingers turn white in the cold. The remedy? A light box kit for Christmas!

I saw it on Ebay. 24″ portable light box with three lights and a tripod and reasonably priced. I showed my husband Dave. He said “It won’t be a surprise, but if that is what you want…”. I assured him it was and it arrived only slightly after Christmas. I set it up on the dining room table (don’t worry, we eat in the kitchen) and got started.

Why did I think this would be a snap? In all the threads I read, people extolled the ease and virtues of light boxes. So why were my photos murky? Where was I going so dreadfully wrong? I fiddled with the lights, adjusted the box itself and then it happened. One of the lights slid off the table and onto a chair. I plugged it in. It didn’t work. Drat. I decided to press on with two lights and got a fairly decent photo:

As I was admiring my progress, the light next to me said, “pop?”, and burped out a little white spark. Drat. I unplugged the light and sulked until Dave got home.

After hearing my story, the first thing Dave did was plug in the sparking light. (Why? I don’t know. I was planning on taking the thing to the trash and heading to Home Depot.) The light, when plugged in, said, “POP!”, spat out a small blue and white flame and blew a circuit breaker. Dave said, “I can fix that.”. Say again? But shame on me for disbelieving….he rewired all three lights and I am struggling along again sans sparks. I don’t know how I’m getting the pinky glow now, (I kinda like it) but I’ll figure it out. Soon or later, I will get that great photo!

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7 Responses to there’s a light box in my house

  1. ColtPixy says:

    Sounds like the same set up I have. If it is, I would suggest tossing the crappy lights in the trash. I use 100 watt CFL bulbs in those silver cone shaped drop lights.

  2. A good suggestion. Right now I’m using 50 watt daylight halogen bulbs in the rewired lights. I’ll experiment a little more tomorrow, but if it doesn’t work, I will go light shopping this weekend.

  3. averilpam says:

    I must try a daylight bulb if I can get one to fit my only suitable lamp! I frequently have to set the white balance in Photoshop as I end up with a colourcast on my photos, I don’t know why.
    I’ve no idea why you have a pink glow either!

  4. I haven’t had a chance to try photos todays, but I think my glow might be coming from my light placement. I have a lot of burgundy and purple in the room and maybe I’m picking up a reflection? Maybe if I change the angles of the lights. Hmm.

  5. And it never occurred to me set the white balance in Photoshop. Thanks!

  6. Ludo says:

    I have crappy lights too. The dog knocks them over and the bulb breaks and they are pricey bulbs! I think I need to invest in some good ones.

  7. Luckily, my dogs are dachshunds and are too short to reach the lights or else I’d have the same problem!

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