Who needs a proper photo studio?

After finally receiving one of Apple’s new aluminum MacBooks last week, I’ve been doing some testing and working on my review of the machine. And as you likely know, good photography is a cornerstone of TR reviews. Scott and Geoff have both devised ways to take great pictures of the latest processors, graphics cards, motherboards, and other devices over the years.

Trouble is, I live all the way over in France, and I don’t have anything resembling professional studio equipment in my 540-square-foot apartment. Taking TR-quality photos of a 13.3" notebook turned out to be a challenge, but I think I pulled it off. Behold my makeshift studio:

You’re looking at four pieces of melamine pushed together, my desk lamp (with a 20W compact fluorescent light bulb), my living room lamp, my girlfriend’s umbrella, about a quarter roll of aluminum foil, some duct tape, and some scotch tape. Actually, the hardest part was contorting to keep my carpet out of the shots. I’m pretty pleased with the results, though:

Look for the finished review early next week, and check out the image gallery below for high-resolution versions of the shots above.

Comments closed
    • xzelence
    • 11 years ago

    So awesome. I love you guys.

    • floodo1
    • 11 years ago

    also from some weed growing things i’ve read, apparently mylar can be very reflective, and will probably work better than foil ๐Ÿ™‚
    then again if you got a daylight bulb and some mylar you’d ruin the ghetto-fab action you’ve got going on now!

    • fpsduck
    • 11 years ago

    Nice to see your “behind the scene.”
    Keep it up! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • floodo1
    • 11 years ago

    Yeah you can get a “daylight” bulb (higher K) from basically any photography store. The only issue is that they come in higher wattages and get VERY hot and only last for a few hours, so you may want to pick up more than 1. Its worth it though because photos come out looking a bit nicer color wise.

    Still, props on the umbrella and foil! I always just used clip on lights (like you get at a hardware store) with daylight bulbs and white foambard (2 vertical, 1 horizontal or 1 vertical + 1 horizontal).

      • FireGryphon
      • 11 years ago

      Yeah, mad props on the umbrella and foil. I forgot to mention that in my post, but it warrants another post just to say it. That setup is OD.

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    I had to do something similar years ago. For a backdrop / “floor” we used flexible white cardstock (larger than poster size; I don’t recall where we got it) that started out horizontal and curved to vertical behind the subject. This gave a lot of flexibility in positioning the camera relative to the subject because there was just a consistent white background without any seams or angles. As Sativa mentions, it helps with the lighting too.

    • Forge
    • 11 years ago

    Very nice setup. I’ll have to remember the lamp+umbrella+tinfoil trick if I ever need to McGuyver up a light for photography.

    • FireGryphon
    • 11 years ago

    Very nice, but the blue LCD looks sickly. Try dropping in a higher K bulb.

    • titan
    • 11 years ago

    As a photographer, I approve. I think you had some fantastic results out of your makeshift light box.

    • blitzy
    • 11 years ago

    that’s pretty cool, what camera did you use?

      • Cyril
      • 11 years ago

      Canon PowerShot A570 IS.

    • mongoosesRawesome
    • 11 years ago

    540 square feet. I lived with my gf in a place that small. God it was small. Oh yea, with 2 cats and a ferret and a bunch of frogs. It was basically a zoo exhibit.

    • sativa
    • 11 years ago

    when i was writing reviews for a website, I built a white box using some plywood and epoxied big white presentation boards (bought at office depot) to it.

    I had one peice on the floor, and two peices upright.

    The light is amplified because of the reflection of the vertical boards and the seems become invisible when the lighting is good enough — i didn’t even have to buy special lights.

      • Tamale
      • 11 years ago

      this is basically what I do for the case reviews.

    • crazybus
    • 11 years ago

    Using a “daylight” or higher Kelvin bulb would have made the LCD look a lot less blue. Otherwise that’s a decent end result.

    Building a lightbox would have helped as far as controlling the shadows, but it probably would have to be quite large for this purpose.

    ยง[< http://www.studiolighting.net/homemade-light-box-for-product-photography/<]ยง Using the melamine was clever, but doesn't give you much leeway in choosing angle or field of view. If you can get a hold of a neutral white backdrop sheet you'd have more flexibility there.

    • Meadows
    • 11 years ago

    The backdrop isn’t white enough, but the whole thing is impressive. I couldn’t have done better myself, or at least I think so. Must’ve been canny cheap too.

      • Smurfer2
      • 11 years ago

      I wouldn’t have changed a thing with the backdrop, less that Macbook disappear in a sea of white.

    • DrDillyBar
    • 11 years ago

    haha, very MacGyver of you Cyril. Looks good.

      • continuum
      • 11 years ago

      MacGyver.. nice compliment.

      Looks like a lot of improved subjects I’ve done in the past, but the umbrella with foil is indeed a nice touch!

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