This is the thing that you need, but you don’t have and now are going to make whether you craft or not. I promise you need one if you have a camera.
The above is an example of the tragic variety. That is supposed to be ice cream, not toxic sludge. There are actually many flaws here, including focus and composition, but I contend that the craptastic lighting is the reason this picture was never going to be good. The light source is too close and is obviously coming from one small point up and to the right, creating the dementors of photographic shadows.
This picture demonstrates significantly better lighting. It was also taken at night and the only light sources were the overhead ambient light in the room and a desk lamp with a single 100Watt incandescent bulb.
The secret is building a light box. This is a tool many professional photographers and ebay auctioneers use to get soft, indirect light on a subject. To purchase a light box might take approximately $100, but I made mine with things I had lying around the house. Take that Hoarders… an old box can be used again!
I started my light box with a box from Crate and Barrel. Unbelievably, I had a few of those lying around after the holidays. The idea is to open three sides of the box to allow in more light, so we turn the box on its long side.
Beginning on one short side, I marked about 2 inches in from the edge.
I used a Sharpie to draw a rectangle with a two inch frame on the side of the box. I chose to leave the flaps (that originally would have been the top flaps of the box) intact and use those to block a glare if necessary. However, my rectangle did extend about two inches into the flaps because I was a little worried that the openings might not let in enough light otherwise.
I then used a utility knife to cut out the rectangle. Remember to keep any digits to which you are attached out of the path of your cutting if you would like to stay attached to them. I always have a couple close calls.
Repeat this for the second short side and the top so that three sides are open.
Be sure to leave the back (formerly the bottom of the box) as well as bottom (formerly one of the long sides of the box) uncut in order to maintain structure.
To filter the light, any white translucent material may be used. This is what will prevent harsh shadows. I would imagine fabric would work great, but I have plenty of freezer paper lying around. I cut pieces large enough to cover the three holes and attached them with masking tape.
I used a length of white muslin for the interior of the box, but patterned fabrics or a poster board would work well too.
I secured the fabric to the top rear of the box using mini-clothespins just because I had some.
As mentioned earlier, I used a desk lamp as my light source.
I would really like to get a better light bulb, but for now I have adjusted the white balance on my camera to compensate for the yellow cast of the light. Compare the yellow cast of the picture below to that above.
And this is the final product! I am really excited to try varying light sources and backgrounds. Not bad for free!
And if anyone has a tutorial for a device that automatically cleans after a crafting session, I would be very interested. As you can see, my dining room table is currently consumed.