Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Best $2 Light Tent Yet

Well, now let’s take a look at the long awaited Cadillac of light tents. As you look at my cluttered photo above I am afraid you may already be disappointed but before you jump ship please hear me out. I will repeat that the upside down pitcher you see above is the best light tent I have created and I have dozens of efforts under my belt.

I am going to spell everything out as well as I can and I will provide you with names and sources. I am really sold on this puppy and I hope to see tremendous strides made by our ancient coin photographers. Our focus will be on what I will call the orange juice container you see directly under my camera. My camera is a Canon XTI and is mounted on a copy stand I designed.

I shoot all my coin pics using a Sigma 105mm Macro lens. I think a custom white balance is great but I don’t think this exercise will leave anyone out regardless of camera. Back to the orange juice container. I bought my container from one of the Dollar Stores for either $2 dollars or $2.50. I cannot stress how important this particular container is. I have used all kinds of frosted plastic and none measures up to the frosted plastic used to construct this container.

I am about to provide you will a URL and a picture of the "right" container and I will provide you with the item number. The unit comes from Sterilite and here is the URL to their home page:
http://tinyurl.com/bsu9jb Please look at item number 0482. This is the container I want you to purchase. I have used many other containers and they are unlike this element of perfection! This is a 2 quarts or 2 liter unit.

Please take a careful look at the plastic pitcher. Unfortunately I could not find anything other than the name "Sterilite" on the pitcher. I assume that all will be able to locate the pitcher. Call the company if you have to and ask for the nearest distributor. Once you have the pitcher in hand, you will be ready to proceed.

Remove the blue and gold top. The top of the pitcher will become the bottom. You will now need to cut the bottom out of the pitcher. I say this with a great deal of trepidation because I am terrified someone will end up with a nasty cut. If you are not skilled at working with your hands, please recruit a friend or neighbor to help you cut the bottom from the pitcher.

Once you have achieved this then you are ready to move on to lighting. The Canon has a very good custom white balance setting and I don’t have any idea what your camera is capable of doing with white balance. I have a Fuji that does not have the custom white balance but it does have an array of settings. If you don’t know about white balance then read your camera’s manual carefully relative to white balance.

The lights you see in the photo positioned on each side of the orange juice container are flex-arm lights and I have using common 60 watt incandescent light bulbs in each. I need to sum up by stating that I think shop lights will work well. You will need to practice with the angle of the lighting and you will need to practice with light proximity.

A note here. When setting your white balance, be sure and move the camera's lens as close as possible to the top opening. Be sure your lights are on and set the light your camera is 'reading" from inside the container. I am sure I have left out a couple of obvious things. Please feel free to write me and ask all the questions you like. We have quite a few members on our sites who are members of our Yahoo CoinPhotography group. I hope they will jump right in and start publishing their coin photography results. Thank you for reading and please bookmark my blog. God Bless.. Jerry..

No comments: