Monday, December 6, 2010

The junkbox cyclorama

Adafruit had a post a few weeks ago about building a cyclorama to take nice pictures of your work.  I built one up for the office (we always have horrible pictures of things in our documentation), but for home I can't justify even the $50-75 one would cost me.  So, I did what any good maker will do- hit the junk piles!

First, a word on sourcing:  the local IKEA has a section right before the checkout called "As-is".  (My wife and I frequent IKEA for some reason- we eat breakfast there about once every couple of weeks, and dinner there almost as often.)  As-is is where IKEA goods too good for the trash but too bad to sell as new go- returns, scratch and dent, display models, etc.  Every so often, they'll bundle up a bunch of crap and put it on a "mystery cart" or a "handyman's cart".  The shelves just visible to the right above were a handyman's cart item; the lights all came from a mystery cart.  I've actually bought far too many of both of those; my garage is stuffed with disused cabinet doors and partly assembled furniture along with piles of mystery cart lights.  To be fair, I've also done a lot with the stuff I got out of them, but the piles of junk are probably not worth it.

At any rate, the backdrop lighting is provided by three "Kvart" lamps and the ambient lighting by a six-up "Glimt" light (link is to PDF of the assembly directions; apparently it has been discontinued).

There's a sample image; it's a little blurry around the edges (I don't have a tripod; I'll probably try to hack something together out of another Kvart desktop base) but I am quite happy with the quality of uniformity of the light.

Here we see some limitations; if the board angle is too steep, the picture shows hot spots from the individual bulbs.  I may try to add some diffuser paper (well, office paper) over the lamps- that's going to be tricky because the bulbs are stupid hot halogens.

I'll probably also make a roof and side walls out of  white foamcore (I have a bunch of THAT lying around, too, of course) in an effort to reign in some of the stray light I'm losing to the surroundings.

The backdrop is a blackout rollershade we had custom cut for a window without adequate measurement beforehand.  I couldn't bring myself to throw it out and now I'm glad I didn't!

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