Making new photographic lamps

Making some new photographic lamps.

One issue I’ve had with both taking photos of people and close-ups of items is the lack of light. A couple of small halogens really doesn’t cut it, so I’ve been thinking over affordable and adaptable replacements.

I picked up a couple of clip-on lamp holders cheaply from EFG Housewares, a wholesaler I use for some of my shop supplies. I wanted to get some simple reflectors for them, but couldn’t find any at a reasonable price online. Even simple one-piece pressed aluminium shades seem to carry excessive prices. So it was off to the 99p Shop in Walthamstow High Street, where I found a couple of suitably shallow 30cm cheapo stainless bowls.

I next borrowed one of my dads Q-Max sheet metal punches. They’re very nice and provide a clean hole in sheet metals very easily.

I used a 30mm punch, but really should have used a 28mm or so. I measured from the inside of the lamps collet, not the thread. Whoops. But that’s alright in the end. I used my home-made centre-finder to mark out the bowls. It finds centre well on circles, but I also forgot the pegs on it weren’t the same length, so on the bowls curves sides it skewed the centre. So the error on one was enough in the end to correct for the error on the other! There’s a lucky break, eh?

Next up, a 10mm hole is drilled so the bolt of the punch can go through. The bolt is tightened and pulls the cutter into the punch block from the other side of the metal.

Voilà! A nice clean hole! (can’t say the same about the bowl)

I took some burrs off with a hand file and did the other bowl to match, then took them back indoors to fit the lamp holders to them.

Next I ordered some energy-saving high-brightness “daylight” bulbs off ebay. It took a few more days and a trip to the sorting office, but I got them this morning.

They’re 36Watt (180Watt equivalent), rated at 2160 Lumens, an 8000Hr lifetime and a colour temperature of 6500! They’re also wide mushroom-shaped coils, so should give a fairly diffuse light with no harsh shadows.

Without new lighting

With new lighting

And finally, fitting them they work perfectly. I was a bit worried the light would be too directional, but it’s both bright and pleasantly diffuse. I’m sure my opinion will refine the more I use them, but for the moment I’m pretty happy with the results!

(auto-exposure doesn’t like looking directly at them when they’re on)

Total cost:
Lamps – £1.65 each (Total £3.88 inc VAT)
Stainless bowls – 99p each (£1.98)
Lamps – £4.29 each (Total £12.06 inc Postage)

TOTAL: £17.92

That’s about the same as for a single studio lampshade. A complete lamp runs to about £50.

UKFur Ladies Shirts Photoshoot pics

Posting up the best images from Saturdays photoshoot with Halo.

After some umming and erring, I’ve managed to whittle down the few hundred pictures taken on Saturday to just 18 of the best ones.

I managed to arrange a photoshoot with “Halo Husky” to help advertise the new ladies-fit variants of the ever-popular UKFur T-shirt designs, as I’ve previously blogged.

Lighting has proven to be the biggest issue in most, so I will have to invest in a portable reflector to help get rid of some of the harsh shadows in future as well as UV and polarising filters to reduce glare in other places.

Some shots had some very delicate tweaking of the gamma and saturation levels to get them up to spec. I’m very happy with the results so far.

Again, the uploaded pics are reduced to half size for the web. I have yet to pick which of the images will go on to be the new example images, but it’s satisfying to know I’m happy with all the options.

Please find the images here:

LondonFur meet June 26th, and photo-shoot

A little talk about todays LondonFur meet, and the joy of photographing people who enjoy being photographed.

A lovely, if hot, day out with the furries in London again. Made a pleasant number of sales, saw Reaperfox there (her first attendance ever), Jackal back from holiday, some lovely new newbies, and had a wonderful time doing the arranged photo-shoot with Halo Huskybutt. At my request, she modelled the three new ladies-fit UKFur T-shirts, some of which will make it to the upcoming web-shop as model shots to show them in use (in addition to the item-only images).
I also managed to get Lupus Londonwolf to do some impromptu modelling of the unisex shirts, so that’s all the current bases covered!

It’s so interesting photographing people intently (rather than casually). I’ve said before I’m finding it rather like making instant art; you take lots and lots of shots, and pick only the best of them. You try lots of subtle variations. It’s so dynamic. But it’s also interesting to see what poses and expressions people fall into comfortably under only general directions, or how they move and engage with the camera.

I’ll freely admit that I appreciate images of ladies more than I do of men, so I’ll say up front that I got good pictures of both Halo and Lupus. But looking at the images of Halo as I did the first pass on them to sift the better ones, I felt genuinely amazed at how wonderful she looked in them, and that I’d been able to capture those images. I’m sure I have a long way to go and a lot to learn still, but it’s so intensely enjoyable to take photos like this. And particularly so when the model is so enthusiastic and engaging with the process.
My heart really did race looking over the pictures; there’s already the creative excitement of the process of doing it, but ending up with a variety of images of a beautiful woman is a wonderful bonus. I don’t mean that to sound sexual, but I suppose it is sensual. And with sensuality such a component of so many other forms of art, I shouldn’t feel bad about admitting it (maybe only about feeling bad about feeling bad).

I hope I can find a way to get the same dynamic creative excitement back with my drawing abilities as well. I think more days like today will certainly help. And I think it goes without saying that I would love to have another photo-session with Halo some time soon. (an idle thought is to play with the concept of costume and wearer, as she’s an enthusiastic ‘suiter. The dividing line between in and out of costume seems seldom touched upon.)

I’ll get the shoot photos up once I’ve gotten them down to the real cream of the crop. With help from the UKFur forums tech-section, the issue with uploading the full sized images from my camera has been identified. While I probably won’t upload many, so as to keep the full-size originals private, it would be good to have the option to upload the full sized images immediately or to show off the highest level of detail at times. Whether I can or not will depend on if I can have my PHP memory allowance raised by a few more megabytes.
But until then the freeware batch-resizer “Fotosizer” seems to be working fine shrinking them down to a compatible 60% of the originals.

The few non-shoot images from todays meet can be found in the gallery here:

And as a small unrelated footnote; The “cargo pram” was pushed to its limit today on stock-duty I think. The wheels were starting to bow rather ominously, and it was so top-heavy laden with T-shirts it was bordering on uncontrollable at times. But a new one is in the works that’ll be able to hold more and in much more convenient sub-divisions. I’m sure it’s creation will be worth at least one blog entry.

Cleaning, casting and picture-taking

Some photos of a wax seal and some notes on casting.

Straight to the workshop this morning, and finally managed to dig out the custom wax seal I made for Ash!
I had to modify it because last time I wasn’t happy with my own piss-poor engraving and due to the fact I didn’t reverse the text or images. So the stamped text came out backwards! D’oh!

It polished up pretty well with rotary tool and felt wheel though.

Also checked on the paw-pad castings. Was a bit worried since the part-A had settled out and I used a portion of the surface fluid by itself on the first run.
I’ve since scrawled “SHAKE BEFORE USE” on the side of the heated cabinet.
Regardless the elastomer seems to have set and cured pretty well. No areas of unmixed dye, and a glossy surface finish. I’m still going to give them another 24hrs before they go in the post though, just to be on the safe side. They should be fully hardened at 7 days, but they can be used an manipulated as-is.
Texture’s good too. Feels very natural.

Bit miffed that TOMPS haven’t gotten back to me yet regarding the order cockup, where they sent me Shore-60 instead of 80. I had intended to make up the “tire-tough” footpads with the new 4″ wide velcro embedded in them, and strap them to the bottoms of my shoes to test them at tomorrows LondonFur meet.
Really I should have checked the order contents when it arrives, but I assumed that they were correct because I’d been told the 80 was in a larger set than the 40, due to new suppliers. There were two sizes in there, so I assumed. I should have asked for the product numbers, rather than the descriptions.
It’ll get sorted eventually.

So, spent a little while here, setting up the ghetto Ikea light-box, and getting some much improved publicity shots of my works.
I really need some bigger, brighter lights though. Maybe my welding halogen..
Also depth-of-field is a bit messed up in some. Should be resolved with more light and using Macro shots, rather than regular with zoom.

Some unedited, resized shots below cut..
Continue reading “Cleaning, casting and picture-taking”

An impromtu photoshoot!

A cheeky lingerie photoshoot with Cat.

My friend Cat wanted to show off some of the lingerie outfits she now has, and wanted some photos taken! Sadly my nice camera doesn’t arrive til next week, but made do with the old one.
Lots of fun, and probably helped to a degree in getting over freezing up around folk being intoxicatingly extroverted in their sexuality.

However will be much more fun when I can take photos again but with a camera that doesn’t take 10 seconds between shots and that has an adjustable exposure.

Thanks to the “things I hate about furry” thread on the UKFur forums, I also really want to take a photo of a girl in a thong with the awesomeface on it. Volunteers?

EDIT: (would actually get one made at spreadshirt rather than cafepress tho. Better quality and the thong could be pink.)

[20/06/2010: Amalgamating old posts from “Dreamwidth Creative Blog” into to re-purpose DW blog account.]

EDIT 21/06/2010: The images are now uploaded to this sites gallery, HERE (NSFW/Mature)
Taken on an old Fujifilm A330. I can really appreciate why professional photographers have such a stock of lights, reflectors, diffusers, lenses, props and SPACE now. I was literally cramming myself against the rear wall of the room to try and get her all in shot.