ncharshaf handmade Adventures of a self taught bookbinder


New photos: A sneak Peak

Moving this time around has been quite an interesting experience. We moved all of our stuff in, and then slowly started moving my boyfriends parents out. They have given us the pretty cool opportunity to live in their house while they move into a smaller fixer upper and work their renovation magic. My boyfriends mom has a ton of odd old things passed down to her from her father, and not all of it can fit into their new place, so for now I get to keep it!

This got especially exciting today when I decided to start re-photographing my books. I started out with a crazy old typewriter which i was totally excited about. I photographed all of my books in multiple positions,  (254 photos) loaded them up, adjusted one, and then let it be for a bit.

Then I was leaving, and something on the bookcase caught my eye. A bundle of over-sized wooden crayons. Regardless of the time spent photographing the previous set of photos, I knew I needed to rephotograph the books with these crayons.

I am in love with these crayons. They are a wonderful mixture of nature mixed with bold, bright colors. I think that those two things sum up my aesthetic pretty well, and while photographing the colors in the crayons helped bring out the vibrancy in the prints of the book.

I will be cropping and editing these, and then doing a massive shop update! Here is a little sneak peak.


Finding the (white) balance

Eager to try out my lightbox that I built yesterday, I went outside and took a huge batch of photos. The problem was that I got them inside and they all had a beautiful tungsten glow to them. My goal with the lightbox was to shorten my time in post production as opposed to raise it. I use a Canon EOS Rebel XT camera, and I have been a bit spoiled with how well it points and shoots without much fuss. Although I do typically shoot in manual, I enjoy how the camera is fairly easy to get great photos out of. Up until this point, I have been using the camera's auto white balance and changing the rest of the settings.

However, with the auto white balance not getting the color that I wanted, I decided to start experimenting with the other white balance settings. I went outside and took a picture of the same object on each setting, one with flash, and one without. I am glad that I did, because I think I found the right mix that will get me beautiful photos with minimal touch up. I have gotten used to adjusting my own shutter speed, focus, and f. stop, and now it looks like I will add one more setting to my list.

I thought it was interesting how drastic the photos changed with each settings, and I set up a chart for reference.

Testing the different white balance settings on my camera.


Building a lightbox

I have been working on different aspects of improving my etsy shop recently, working on tagging, descriptions, sorting, etc. It seemed that the last thing on my list was to work on my photographs. While I do not think my photographs are terrible, I think that there is room for improvement with them to make them more clear and engaging.

I had been toying with the idea of creating a lightbox, and after finding this guide today, I decided it was time to take the plunge.

I was amazed at how simple this process was, and also fairly inexpensive.

My materials:

Supplies needed to create my lightbox

  • 3 pieces of foam core - ¬†$10.60: one thick piece for $5 for the bottom, and 2 thinner pieces that were slightly banged up, and sold "as is" for $2.80 a piece
  • 3 Clip on Shop Lights - $15
  • Bright White Light Bulbs - $8
  • Painters tape
  • Straight Edge
  • X-Acto knife
  • pen

Total Cost: $33.60

Step 1: Cut the foam core
It worked out pretty well that the thick piece that I bought for the bottom was a half sheet of the thinner pieces that I bought, meaning I could cut the 2 thin pieces in half  creating my 2 sides, back, and top. After cutting these in half, I trimmed a bit extra off to get rid of the bent corners that allowed me to get them for so cheap.

Step 2: Adhere the sides
Now, here is my admission, I hate measuring. Forget measuring twice and cutting once, I prefer to not do it at all. Instead, I took the thick bottom piece, and used it to trace the proper width for the sides. I then used my tape to attach the two sides to the bottom piece.

Adhering the sides to the lightbox

Step 3: Adhere the back
Ok, so my non measuring plan worked out really well for the sides, but as far as the back goes, I had not accounted for the extra width of the two side pieces. Luckily the back piece fit between those two pieces, so it ended up being ok. The height of this back piece was also a bit tall, so I marked off where the sides hit it and did a final cut. Finally I taped the back piece to the sides.

Lightbox with the back attached

Step 4: Adhere the top
The top came together pretty nicely, but I did need to call in my boyfriend to help me hold the piece up while I taped it, and then it was done and ready to attach the clamp lights!

Fully built lightbox - view from the back

Step 5: Insert paper into center of box at a curve
I bought a few pieces of paper as well to adhere to the box and create a curve to eliminate the seam at the back of the box. I bought standard large sheets of paper in black, grey and white to give a variety of background colors that I could easily switch out.

Finished lightbox with paper insert

Step 6: Photograph!
I wanted to test it out a bit, so so I grabbed my trusty X-Acto knife. I have a little bit of playing around to do with the exposure and white balance, but so far I am pleased, and looking forward to update my product photographs. I think that this was a great project that did not take a lot of effort but I believe will create good results.