360° rotation photography – Under lit turn-table!

360° rotation photography – Under lit turn-table!

So … you think that 360° rotation photography is cool … but too much work?
Let’s see if we can find a shortcut!
Problems we have to overcome: how to rotate the products and how to light them?

Usual “remedies” – place them on a turn table in a light box and light them up!

Two drawbacks – large light boxes are expensive, not so comfortable to work with because you have access only from one side and … you will have to do a lot of pen-work in order to cut-out the objects and have them on a pure white background because even with the best lighting setups you will still have shadows just under or around the product.

The solution that I had to devise is … simple. Underlit turn-table!

List of things needed:

A sturdy swivel plate “lazy Mary”
4 Adjustable furniture legs
Large white plastic pot (or you can paint it white later on) (50+cm in diameter)
Multilayered pipe
Clear Plexiglass
Thin white plastic (Starflex Backlit pvc)

First –  the turn table: Cut out 2 circular pieces of plywood one slightly smaller than the other (mine are 50cm and 40 cm)
Being a 360 composite you will need to think about how many frames you will have to get in order to meet your client’s requirements :) More frames will give you a smoother motion but will increase the size of the file and it will take more time to finish.
I usually choose between 12, 24 or 36 frames so, if these numbers will be OK for you as well, divide the diameter of the big plywood piece by 12, 24, 36 and with a marker mark the divisions using different colors/shapes.
All you’ll have to do later on will be to rotate manualy to the desired markings using the point of reference inserted in the static, smaller plywood.

Drill a hole in the small piece. Sandwish them together on the swivel plate – you attach the plate first to the small plywood and using the drilled hole you can screw the bigger plywood on the other side. (you will know what I mean when you’ll have the 2 pieces in front of you :D
Attach the furniture legs and on a side of the little plywood attach a “reference point”.

You now have a turn table strong enough to hold a human model on it! :)



In the middle of the turn table insert nut for wood.




Cut the plexiglass just a bit bigger than the diameter of the plastic pot. Cut the Starflex Backlit material to cover the Plexiglas.

Cut out a large hole in the side of the pot and a small one on the bottom – the big one will help you change the intensity of your strobe inside without the need to remove the plexiglass cover and the small one will allow you to insert the power supply for the strobe.
Attach the pot to the turn table using the nut.

The strobe inside can be positioned very easily using some multilayered pipe (plastic pipe with metal insertions). Because they are very rigid but still malleable and there is a size that fits perfectly in the strobe’s mounting hole, I find no reason to buy expensive flex arms anymore! :D … And another tip … if you can live with a steel pipe in your studio … there is no need to buy boom arms as well – there is a size that fits in the strobes as well! :D


And … voila … you have a under-lit turning table for your 360° rotation photography that can be used for normal underlit shoots as well! :)

Place it in the light box I described in my previous post, cover as much as you need, place your strobes around and … your life is much easier now! :)


Enjoy! :)


Photographical multiplication!

So … space is a premium? Especially when sometimes you feel like working from home … and the wife has clear rules about the amount of “photography stuff” you can bring home?

Small DIY studio – one of many versions available – this one is geared toward 360 Photography and small product shots.
Things to be accomplished:
– Must be easy to store/ assembly and disassembly
– Must be sturdy enough to allow a strobe to be mounted directly on the frame
– Must be modular – if I want only one “wall” then that must be possible

So, after considering my needs and checking various “storing” places, my base ended up being 55×70 and 110cm high.

List of things needed:
Wood dowels (I choose wood for rigidity and convenience but I am sure that there are plastic pipes just as rigid) and PVC pipe fittings – you will have to get matching diameters – is best to mix and match on the spot in the store
Small metal furniture (table) legs (IKEA :) (the inner diameter of the tube must be a bit smaller than the diameter of the dowels)
White and black material and a selection of colored ones


So basically you start by screwing the base from the small furniture legs in the 4 corners of the plywood, remove the plastic ends from the legs and fit inside 4 dowels (you end-up with 4 “spears” that can be used for other various necessities).
There are 3 way PVC pipe fittings that can be used directly … for some reason I couldn’t find any so I had to improvise a bit.
Screw in the legs and connect the sides … you have your “light box”
The fabric that covers the sides has simple ribbons/tapes sewn on it in order to attach it to the poles
The top can be covered directly with fabric and the gravity will keep it in place.

Now … what can you house in such a setup?
A multiplication station?

7-Bottles-2Well … let’s add 2 mirrors and a black glass, one bottle, one martini glass , a slice of “sun” and see what can we do with it!
First … let’s brush up our mathematical knowledge a bit here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spherical_wedge
It will be required when will try to cut out a slice from a plastic sphere at the desired angle.
Varying the angle between the mirrors will get you as many reflections as you want.


Your problem is … the other reflections – the ones you don’t want … so you get rid of them by light-proofing the “box”
It takes a bit of trial and error when it comes to the positioning of the light source (one strobe will suffice) and you will have to remove in post-processing some stray reflections and the image of your camera. (Careful placement will minimize the work later)mirror-box-3

The camera will be placed inside or, depending on the size of the setup/camera, you can cut out a hole in the  covering fabric.

Word of advice – Buy if you can find/afford mirrors with the reflective layer on the  front of the glass,  not on the back of it – it will eliminate the double reflections.

And … clean the mirrors and the black glass very well before you start shooting – be extra careful with the dust – inside every little speck will be perfectly visible!!
Decide wisely what to put in the middle – that item will center and unify the composition!

So … this is how you get more from little … in photography!

PS: the blue version was not “cleaned up” … you see? I speak from experience … clean the setup before hand! :D




The … “Light-Wand” … “Rainbow Wand” or … “Painting Stick”


So … you dreamed about being a Jedi of light&pixels? And all you need is your lightsaber? Or you see yourself as a magician of light and you need a wand?
Cast the shadows of the night away :) here comes the “Light-Wand” (or “Rainbow Wand” or “the mother/father of all light painting sticks” – is hard to please everybody, so at least we can be flexible when it comes to names!)

My idea was to make a portable, customizable (in terms of light output) and “long” source of “linear” light.
And keep it DIY as much as possible.

So here goes – list of things needed:

Wood board painted in black – dimensions will have to suit your needs – mine is 128x5x2.5 cm
Flexible Led Strip RGB SMD 5050 + 44 keys remote + Controllers – depending on how many strips of led you will want. (my version has 3 strips and 3 controllers)
A piece of 3/4 inch MDPE water plastic pipe, an NPT-Female-Brass-Pipe-Plug, some wires, nuts&bolts, a router (or a friend with a router – a wood router :) a soldering iron, a drill, some free time …

The idea is to have the led strips glued on one side of the board and the power supply+electronics housed in a hollowed space in the board.

First thing to do is to think about your needs – how long do I want it? Remember that rotating the Light wand the length doubles.

The batteries go inside the 3/4 inch plastic pipe (54cm are enough to house the 10 rechargeable batteries required to power the strips) The pipe swings on a bolt that goes thru the board. The brass plug is drilled and screwed at the other end acts as a stopper and as a + contact (add springs at both ends of the pipe for a better contact between the batteries).
The controllers are connected to the power supply and the led strips are connected to the controllers with wires soldered directly (you can buy connectors if soldering is not an option) – the wires go from one side of the plank to another via a drilled hole! :)
The IR Sensors are glued with hot-melt glue in 3 holes drilled on the side of the plank.
Last thing to do is cover the wires and the pipe – multiple options here: from duct tape to a strip of plastic screwed in the corners.
If you have in mind creating some big wheels then you will need a way to rotate the wand freely – it is easier to do it if you have a “handle”. To get one drill a hole at one end, fit inside a length of metal pipe and with a threaded rod, a pipe & a washer + 3 bolts you’ll be ready to start your engines.
One thing to consider: when you will rotate the wand you must hold it high enough not to touch the ground when it points downwards, so … check your strength and height before smashing it to the ground) And have the handle as long as you can – a shorter one is hard to grip with both hands – I went for the 1m long version :D
On the other side the self-adhesive LED strips are not glued from the same starting line, but one after the other at 5mm intervals (to avoid overlapping the individual LEDs from different strips)



In order to operate the wand you will have to cover (with your hand) 2 of the IR sensors, choose the desired color for one strip with the remote and then repeat the operation 2 more times for the other strips.

Being RGB strips your options are … numerous! :) The light mustn’t necessarily be continuous … you can cover parts of the wand with a black material and in this way you can get completely different results!

As for what can you do with it … it all comes down to your imagination – this “tutorial” was put together in a rush (can somebody do a tutorial on stretching time?!) so I only took a few images last night!
I will upload some more as soon as the rain will move on! :)

Well … that’s all folks! Have fun and .. may the light be with you! :) (have spare batteries just in case!)