New photographs! Finally!
In the spring of 2006 I finally set up a new photo studio on the basement of my house, it was long overdue and I wish I would have done it years ago.

The photos on the left are examples of the photographs that I used to take in my living room under halogen lights and I was never very happy with
the overall quality or color of the photographs. For those of you who have visited my website over the last couple of years you know that this is the
type of photograph that I have had on my website for a while now. The photos on the right were taken in my new photo studio and I'm really excited
about the quality of the new photographs!

Ever since I started collecting, and had a desire to photograph things, it has always been a challenge for me to photograph them and make the
colors come out good and get the detail I wanted. I've experimented with all kinds of things and I always enjoyed taking photographs in my living room
with it as a backdrop. The photos had a "warm" feel, but they generally never showed the true color of the piece even thought I was able to get some
good detail in my photographs.

I decided that it was finally time to try and make some changes to my photographs, so I started doing a little experimenting and researching. The first
couple of things I tried worked a little better, but they were still not what I was looking for because the color in the photographs was still off and I didn't
like the backdrops I was using. I talked to a photographer named Scott McCue who does a lot of photography for dealers, and has done some
photography for books and some magazines that deal with Tribal art. He gave me a few pointers that helped and a friend also gave me some advice
that he got from the person who does the photography in his office (which made the biggest difference). I gave the new (to me) ideas a shot and I
was really pleased with the results. My new "photo studio" is far from a real photo studio, but it is a permanent setup that I now have in my office at
home and it has made it SO easy to take photographs now and come out with consistent results that I really like.

The new photos aren't perfect but they are a huge improvement and I am happy with the results.

I wish that I would have taken the initiative years ago to learn how to take better photographs, but I'm glad that I finally did.

Below is a simple breakdown of my set up that I'm using in order to give you a few ideas in setting up a small photo studio of your own in your home if
you are interested in taking better photos. My whole set up cost me less than $100 (if you don't count my ping pong table that I use to drape the
paper on and over).

Lighting
I know it sounds strange to use fluorescent lights, but if you use the right kind of fluorescent lights you'll be happy with the results. I always stayed
away from them because they always gave a yellow appearance to my photos, but then someone told me to check into "daylight" fluorescent bulbs.
These bulbs give you greater color rendition and generate a brighter, whiter light. The daylight light bulb is also sometimes called 5000k, 5900k or
6500k fluorescent, neodymium or the new GE Reveal. I personally use the 6500k fluorescent bulbs.

I have 2 work lights (photo below) that I use that I place on either side of the object I am photographing. The bulbs in them are good daylight intensity.
You will need something to clamp them on to, but it is nice to be able to adjust them to get a good balanced light on either side of an object.

(Type in GOOGLE "Strait-Line Clamping Work Light Model 4034001")
I also have a regular  fluorescent light fixture that hangs from the ceiling just in front of the table I use to photograph objects on. I also have "daylight"
bulbs in this fixture that I bought at a fish store, but I'm sure you can also buy them from a hardware store like Home Depot.

This set up is really basic and not professional by any means, but it allows me to have light on either side of, and in front of and on top of the object I
am photographing. The result is a pretty balanced light all the way around and you usually don't have shadows in the photograph this way either.

Backdrop paper and holders
The paper that I use for the background is from Savage Paper Products and you should be able to buy it, or something similar, from any specialty
camera/photographic store. I bought mine from Wolf Camera in downtown Denver. It's about $25 for a roll.

Here is a link to the Savage Paper Products website:
http://www.savagepaper.com/WidetonePaper.html

You can also buy photo backdrop paper on eBay, along with backdrop paper stand/holders. CLICK HERE to go to the search page on eBay that will
show you a selection of paper and the holders.

I simply used a ping pong table to drape my backdrop paper over. I just put one side of it up and rolled the paper over the flat surface and up and
over the raised section of the table and it worked perfect for me. Some day I will get one of the paper holders, they are actually fairly inexpensive and
you can just use a regular table as your base, but for now the ping pong table works for me.

Camera
The camera is one of the most important factors in taking good photos. I have several cameras but I really don't have a high end digital, it's a middle
of the line digital but it works good. I use a Canon PowerShot G2 to take pictures with, it's 4 mega pixel camera and has decent optics on it. The new
replacement for this camera is the Canon PowerShot S2 IS which is a 5 mega pixel camera with image stabilization that runs just over $300. I wouldn't
suggest taking photos with one of the smaller compact cameras because, in my opinion, they just don't have the best optics and you won't get the
same results with them.

Always use a tripod on your camera for best results and
don't use the flash when taking photos with this set up.

My set up is VERY basic (as you will see below), but it allows me to take consistent photographs at any time of the day.

I hope this helps you some if you're looking at setting up something in your house to take better photos yourself.

RAND
My old photographs using halogen lights in my living room of my
house.
My new photographs using daylight fluorescent lights and basic photo
backdrop paper.
Rand African Art
home page
Above is my simple setup. Ping-pong table as a base and backdrop. I have 2 of the yellow lights and I usually place one on each side of the object at
different heights when I am taking photos of it.