Artificial light is one of the biggest thorns in the craft photographer’s sides.  Well, to be more accurate, the fact that one doesn’t have a constant source of uninterrupted, perfectly white balanced light filling every room is the biggest thorn in the craft photographer’s side.  This challenge was all about you discovering what happens with different light sources in your home.

So what do I think you’ve seen?  Well, I’m placing my bets on the following:

  1. Under bog standard light bulbs, your photos will have come out a rather unappetising shade of yellow, rather as if everything in the photo has jaundice
  2. If you have fluorescent lighting, then you’ll have photos with a tinge of blue
  3. If you have colourful backgrounds, that will also have altered the colours of your subject
  4. If you used your flash pointing directly at your subject, it will have blasted out a lot of the colour where it hit

So what can you do to combat this?

  • You can invest in some continuous lighting daylight lamps (ie they light is always on, unlike some studio lights which flash).  There are ones which are for craft use, but you can actually get a desktop lighting set, such as this one from Amazon for around £65: PhotoSEL LS11E22 Tabletop Studio Lighting Kit – 2 x 26W 1300lm 5500K 90+ CRI.  It’s almost identical to the setup I have here (note that this photo was taken with my phone using crappy, yellow-hued overhead light because my camera and lighting were otherwise engaged!):
  • Desktop lamps are suitable for smaller items, such as quilt blocks, small bags, and pattern step outs.  While there are a number of cheaper options for lamps that come with light tents/cubes, resist them for a couple of reasons – 1. The lamps in those kits are lower power and quality and 2. Light tents/cubes are restrictive to what will fit inside and the angles at which you can take photos.  I have a light cube (bought separately a long time ago) and it drove me nuts trying to get a photo of more than even a medium sized bear inside, and that was without any staging or props.  Instead, a couple of sheets of white foam core board, available from your local art/craft supply shop, works very well for a backdrop.If you need to take larger photos indoors, larger lighting setups are available, but they are more pricy – it might be better to find an outdoor option for them, simply to ensure that you can get constant lighting across the entire subject (I have a pet multi-storey carpark for this purpose!)
  • If you have coloured backgrounds, make sure that you take a white balance reading to ensure that the colour doesn’t affect the tones in your photographs.  We talked about that way back in March here.  Or you can paint your entire room white, and only use white furniture like I did with this room, to reduce that problem, but that may be a wee bit drastic ;o)  Still, it allows me to take photos like this one, without needing to create a white backdrop.
  • If you need to use your flash, use some form of filter to reduce the harshness.  Depending on whether it is a built in flash or external flash, the accessories are slightly different, but the options include bouncing the light off something (either the ceiling or a bounce card for example), or using a diffuser to spread the light out.

Now let’s see what you discovered: