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Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone

Posted by Alan Scalone  
Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
May 16, 2012 09:44AM
After considerable research and even more trial and error, the following is a detailed description of a perfect bench lighting photography setup:

Materials To Purchase:
3 - 3 foot black 12 volt ceiling track lighting tracks
2 - 90 degree angle track lighting connectors
1 - track lighting end cap
1 track lighting end cap electrical cord connection
6 Solux 12 volt 50 watt 100 CRI 36 degree 4700 color temperature bulbs
6 - 30 inch black 12 Volt track lighting goose neck fixtures
6 - 6 inch hose clamps and 1/2 inch metal strapping strips with holes
6 - 1 inch hose clamps
2 sheets of film industry gel diffuser sheets

Installation:
Screw track lighting to table top in a U shape
install 2 goose necks to each of the 3 sides of the U
drill 8 inch metal hose clamps and nut and bolt each to a piece of metal strapping
use 1 inch hose clamps to attached metal strip (with 6 inch hose clamps attached) to the goose-necks
Attach a sheet of diffuser gel over each of the 6 hose clamps

So, goose necks allow for unlimited light placements for front,top, rear, side lighting
Solux is the ONLY 100 CRI (color resolution index) bulb on the market - does not change color of minerals
Hose clamps allow for positioning of diffuser gels away from the light bulbs so you do not smell the gel material burning while operating the lights.

Please contact Alan Scalone at alscalone at earthlink dot net for a photo of the setup or for other assistance
avatar Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
May 16, 2012 12:12PM
Why not post the photo here?
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
May 19, 2012 08:37PM
Here you go - Two photos showing the lighting setup
Attachments:
open | download - DSC_4354.jpg (664.5 KB)
open | download - DSC_4355.jpg (473.4 KB)
avatar Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
May 24, 2012 05:31PM
That is one funky looking setup there Alan, but I can see where it would work beautifully!!
Thanks for sharing. thumbs up
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
May 24, 2012 09:11PM
I am envious, but it must be kind of hot working around 6 halogen lights. I use two, and it raises the room temperature noticeably (and I switch them off between specimens).
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
May 25, 2012 12:06AM
Hi Paul,

Yes, setup certainly looks strange! The 6 goose necks are especially useful for photographing solid and transparent crystals. You can back light transparent crystals and position the front lights to reflect off a few crystal faces to have both the transparency and crystal shape represented in the image.

Alan
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
May 25, 2012 12:09AM
Hey Kelly,

I actually do not get much room heat off the lamps. Not sure if they are what would be called halogen lamps. They are 12 volt, 2-pin, track lights and are very small lamps as well, like 2 inch diameter or so.

Alan
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
July 06, 2012 02:18AM
Very nice setup, Alan. What brand goosenecks did you use? I was out trying to recreate this today--we live in the same area, so I'm also curious where you got the lamps.

Jeff
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
July 07, 2012 11:48AM
Jeff,

Yes, there are quite a few goose necks out there and then there is finding the lowest price provider as well.

I purchases the goose necks from Lighting Direct.com - Cal Lighting HT-257 Contemporary / Modern 1 light flexible goose neck track head for HT series track systems. I went with black to avoid any color reflecting off the fixture surfaces and onto the rocks.

I also forgot to mention that there are a few different types of track - I used the "HT" track which is also one of the 3 most common type of track. You will notice the goose necks are a model "HT" as well.

That model is the longest ones I could find at 27". They do have perforated metal on the lamp shade which does allow the heat to not buildup on the bulb, extending bulb life. However, the perforated shade does allow the light to hit you in the eye when you are working around the lights. In the photos I posted you will notice the black flat plastic attached to the diffuser frames - stops light from hitting you in the eye - just attached with double sided sticky tape.

I also started with just 4 lamps but increased to 6 lamps to gain ultimate flexibility to light various specimens.
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
November 26, 2012 08:45PM
Alan

Found this thread and have a couple of questions for you about the two photographs of the setup.

1) It looks like there are 8 lights instead of 6. What am I missing here?

2) It appears that you have a sheet of clear glass for suspending your pieces above the black background cloth. How much space between the two?

3) How thick is the glass to span almost three feet of space?

4) It's now been some months since the thread was active. Have you made any changes since then or decided that something else would have enhanced the setup?

Thanks, Jim
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
November 28, 2012 06:12PM
Forty bucks a light, bulbs a few bucks, surprisingly cheap.

I recall a bad case of sticker shock when I got the bill for my two solux goosenecks from some company out of NY.

Apparently market forces at work, driving prices down!

A very interesting and informative post.

Brilliant setup. (And yes folks, you do need 6 lights... believe me, two work for TN's, but not bigger.)

Thoroughly appreciated!
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
November 29, 2012 07:21AM
Hi Guys,

Yes, minimum 6 lights. I have since added two more to increase my flexibility for creating reflections on crystal faces. Other than that, no I have not enhanced the setup.

You can view photo work with the setup on my site http://www.kidzrocks.com I have done post work on most photos to 1) Sharpen filter, 2) increase brightness only if photo was a bit too dark. 3) black paint out white debris specs visible on background.

I use back plexiglass over the black cloth - not glass. You can use the thinnest plexiglass to keep costs down - the solid wood desk is under the plexi so. The plexi does scratch so be careful when you place and remove rocks from the surface and use a vacuum to remove debris. You can use both sides of the plexi and move it around as area become scratched.

The black plexi makes a very subtle and nice reflection of the rock on the surface and also of course makes a nice black background to show off your specimen. Obviously any color besides black or white will change the color of your specimens.

Thanks,
Alan

Alan Scalone
29th Nov 2012 7:19am
avatar Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
December 04, 2012 02:10AM
Nice work, Alan!! thumbs up
avatar Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
December 17, 2012 01:57PM
    
To much chaotic for me

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Attrezzatura e tecnica sono solo l'inizio. È il fotografo che conta più di tutto. (John Hedgecoe)
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
January 15, 2013 05:26PM
Although my photos are mediocre I do come ahead of at least half of other posters. It should not be so since I use an old 8MP Olympus camera (that can focus very close to the specimen) and a very simple setup. Focusing rack is there because of lack of room for the tripod legs.
So here is what I use; it is inexpensive and readily available. I rarely use the Halogens that come with the kit I bought on eBay and I added a frosted glass.
Here is a kit on eBay:
[www.ebay.com]





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2013 05:28PM by Jonathan Levinger.
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
January 15, 2013 05:32PM
Looks like the link to eBay page is not allowed so you can look it up if you want under:
New 100w Photo Studio 16" Photography Lighting Tent Kit Backdrop Cube In A Box
Two $10 LED lamps from IKEA are great and one can use more than two if needed.
This are great as a side lamps for your microscope to.
Two or four way focusing rack is available on eBay, best 4 way sells for $35, frosted picture glass, PVC tubes and Velcro strips are from Home Despot or some other hardware joint.
the side walls of your photo box can act as a diffuser to.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2013 05:40PM by Jonathan Levinger.
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
January 15, 2013 09:56PM
Johnathan, very nice addition to this thread topic!

Since first posting this topic I have noticed it is quite a popular topic which confirms what I found when trying to figure out how to best setup to photograph minerals. There was all the standard light cubes and packaged setups out there that are just worthless for mineral photography and very little legitimate information published out on the net on how to create your own setup that actually works properly.

The one clear benefit of Johnathan's configuration that is missing in my setup is the ability to light a specimen from the bottom as well. I had considered cutting out the wood desk and installing a glass surface so I could also light from the bottom when needed and I may still make that modification.

Good stuff everyone and keep contributing!!

Alan
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
January 16, 2013 04:00AM
    
I don't have much of a photo setup, and I don't take many photos, but one thing I have found helpful with specimens hat have reflective crystal faces is to make sure a few selected faces are lit or partially lit in the photo. The idea is mentioned above.

One thing that has worked is to use a light shining almost directly away from the specimen onto pieces of paper that I can position using string and a clip. The idea is to light up an individual face. When you look through the lens you can see the light reflecting off the face you are highlighting and no other face typically gets any light from that piece of paper. It is extra work, but allows a high degree of control over the lighting of individual faces - both for which faces you light up, and the degree to which you light them up. You have to have the rest of the room pretty dark, and you have to use a remote trigger to take the shot sometimes or you get in the way of your strategic reflectors. I've used up to three such reflectors to get a good effect, but it was a lot of work. If I built a better setup in the first place I could do it more easily.

This picture used two paper reflectors, one of which I was holding. The focus wasn't what I hoped, but the lighting was. The paper reflectors provided lighting to the two front faces, center and right. I especially like how I could make the face on the right be both reflective and transparent. It is the best aspect of the picture, capturing both form and depth.

© Keith Wood, 2005
avatar Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
January 16, 2013 08:07AM
    
out of focus in the termination and high grain visible in the photo

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Attrezzatura e tecnica sono solo l'inizio. È il fotografo che conta più di tutto. (John Hedgecoe)
Re: Perfect Bench Photo Lighting Setup by Alan Scalone
November 11, 2013 04:10AM
One question I have is if there are any blue prints and instructions to build a more stable mineral photo box? My father and I would like to build one out of wood or something that can be broken down, moved, and put back together and still be sturdy. I do like the pictures and ideas on here, but still looking just the right setup for me. Thanks
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