A few days ago, I started to dabble in making a makeshift light box to take pictures in of small objects. To do this I used the tutorial I found or was forwarded to a while ago (I’ll post link later when I’m back on my iMac). The result was relatively good if a bit small. All of the paper I had, no matter which sketchbook I tore pages out of to get paper to make it, none of which was sturdy enough to make it stand on its own, reinforcing it with cardboard strips did help but I was then left with the problem of it being really wonky and hardly big enough to fit anything decent inside to take photographs of. Another additional problem was that I couldn’t get my camera in at a decent angle for some things I was wanting to take a photo of.
That was Saturday. Last night I gave the whole lightbox/mini studio thing another shot and I took a different approach. I was thinking bigger this time. Remembering I had a sketchbook of A2 layout paper I started taking a few pages out of it and got to work. I took some blu-tac and put some on the sides of the paper and put it 20cm above the surface of my desk, letting the rest of the paper drape down and onto the desk. This left a short portion of white on the desk which would have been obvious on the photos, so I overlapped another piece of layout paper onto the one I had already positioned. Excellent. This sorted out the background for the photos, but the next bridge to cross was lighting.
With the first iteration of the light box I made, the built in roof helped with the diffusing of the light, avoiding the obvious reflections and the horrible direct light the desk lamp would have given. This version did not have a ‘roof’ so I had to improvise some what. I remembered something I had read somewhere on the internet, of someone at a motorshow and they had their DSLR with them. They wanted to avoid harsh highlights and shadows gotten from the use of the flash so they taped a piece of tracing paper or something close to tracing paper onto the flash of the camera which apparently helped them out massively with producing better shots. So what I did was I cut down a piece of layout paper (since I didn’t have my smaller layout pad to hand) and some more blu-tac and loosely wrapped the paper around the shade of the desk lamp (doable because it was an anglepoise style lamp) and attached using the blu-tac. Wrapping it round loosely meant air could get in and circulate so the paper would not get so hot which could cause a fire. That was something that was mentioned by the photographer talked about above at the motorshow who said that after constant use of the paper on the flash, a burning smell occurred which meant he had to stop and change paper every so often.
The final change I made was to change the light bulb in my lamp. The one that I use in it has a warm white light. Very yellow. The one I changed it to in order to take the pictures, and the one I got with the lamp when I bought it was a very white light, quite cold and clinical. It was, going by the white balance preset in Aperture 3 afterwards, quite close to daylight in a way.
And that was that. I could angle the light where I wanted it, and switching between my 50mm prime and my 18-55mm lenses I was able to produce some quite good photographs of model cars, my new Mr Jones Watch and a few other things. I spent roughly 3 hours taking photos last night which I was quite happy to do as I hadn’t taken so many for quite a while.
The changes for next time? I think next time I am going to make a few more changes to this. The first one is that I am probably going to buy a large A0(ish) piece of paper to use. The larger space would be useful for taking larger objects, or being more adventurous with smaller ones. I was limited a few times when taking some pictures that I ended up seeing the edge of the paper. Use a tripod. I spent most of the time resting the camera on the desk and taking pictures that way. It became a bit of a problem when trying to take shots from above, especially when the shutter speed was quite low for some of the pictures. Make a better or bigger light diffuser to cover the light and possibly position it a little further away from the bulb itself. There was a number of times when I saw the light reflection and I know it could have been done a bit better. The final one is probably the use of some helping hands, either the small crocodile clip style or just getting someone in to give me a hand, but trying to hold up a piece of kappa board as a reflector, adjust the light and hold on to the camera at the same time did get a bit tricky at times, which did end up with some blurry images.
Apart from that, it ended up quite well. Over 300 photos were taken, that being an average of about 100 an hour for those of you who didn’t want to work that one out. And the quality was astonishingly good for something made in under five minutes. Some of the photos of model cars looked just as realistic as full size car images.
The other day I stumbled across a piece of software which, unashamedly, is giving me some quite geeky fun. Called IOGraph, it tracks the movements of the computer mouse or trackpad and turns it into ‘modern art’ in a style not too dissimilar to artist, Jackson Pollock.
You can have it running in the background and a few hours later, when you have finished what you are doing on the computer, you will find a unique image that is based on where your mouse is on the screen. The programme which gives you a live preview of what it is doing or creating, shows lines for movements, and if you have the mouse stationary, a dot appears, the longer the mouse is stationary results in a larger dot.
I’ve noticed from using it that there are some areas of my iMac screen that I very rarely use, such as the bottom left hand side of the screen, or in fact, the left hand side of the screen in general.
Below is the mouse trackings for almost 4 hours and it is wonderful.
Three weeks into this semester seems like an ideal time to talk about this modules project. After the shambles that was last semester, it is refreshing to be back on a project where you are not put under as much pressure. This should mean that the work produced should be better.
The project for this semester is based on ones set by D&AD for their student awards competition. We had a choice of 4 set by different companies who sponsor the competion:
Of the four briefs, I chose to do the one set by Michelin, as it was, in a way, about cars, which I like… very much…
Week 1: In the first week of the project, we sat down in groups, depending on the brief that we had chosen, and discussed the brief. What were they asking us to do? What sort of situation might you be in? Have we been in an accident or other roadside emergency ourselves? After this we were given a week to carry out as much research as we possibly could regarding the company and what sort of area we might like to focus on. I contacted a few roadside emergency services, such as the AA and the RAC asking numerous questions, from which I got no response*. A questionnaire was also constructed and posted somewhere where I knew I would get numerous responses and I was not disappointed. The results given were rich in information and provided a deep insight into what people thought. This along with masses of secondary research gave huge amounts to work with, which was useful for the following week.
Week 2: At the start of week two, we went into the groups once again and discussed what we found out. This then led onto the brainstorming of various different ideas to get us thinking. Different insights and scenarios were also thought of so the idea generation could be continued on as we saw fit. Group discussion over we were to go away and in the style that is synonymous with the product design course here, we were to come up with 100 ideas (which I don’t think is the most effective way of idea generation) for the following week, but this time in the format of an A0 sheet and not a sketchbook as this was thought to make the process easier. In fact it made it a little more awkward. I had the sheet stuck on my wall in my room, and was planning on recording it just to show the process of the 100 ideas but the time it took, eventually led me to scrap that idea after only a small amount of time recording.
Week 3: The 100 ideas were whittled down to 3 and the sheet was handed in. The three ideas (shown below) had to be decided and developed over the course of this next week. This along with a first draft of a scenario board had to be completed in the short space of time. As of this moment in time, I am quite far on in the development part and have pretty much completed the scenario board, which says how the product might be used by the user, and this is, as far as I am aware, at a further point that most other people on the course. The idea which was chosen after receiving feedback from a number of people, was the idea of a high visibility flag or flap which hangs down from the bootlid of a car. This would make the car and driver much more visible when they are broken down at the side of the road.
*The no response was in regard to that week that the research was needed. Today (February 4th, and well into week 3 of the project) I received an email from the RAC with their responses to my rather hastily put together questions, so thank you to them greatly, albeit a bit late.
My contributions to the rapidly growing thread on the Final Gear forums. Backward Cars: where the greenhouse (windows and roof etc, are turned round the other way on the car). They are a little rough round the edges but it is kinda difficult to get your mind around what is going on. The thread has been featured on Autoblog of all places…
Part of the main product design module this semester was for the NCR Student Competition, held with a number of Product Design Courses at Universities in Scotland. Having been one of the ones chosen to go through and present at the final event, I pulled out due to the amount of other work that was needing to have been done for the course at that particular time (amongst other reasons).
The following boards show what my final idea was. The basic concept was for those living in rural india to be able to record, share and view other videos on a device aimed at helping those with their own small business advertise themselves to try and increase their income. It was called RECORD.