Saturday, September 06, 2008

lights on...Action!


Dear foodies,

bejeweled
I usually cook in the evenings and more often that not the main problem I face while taking photographs is with the lighting. I've always disliked the yellow tint of the bulbs and the first thing I did after moving in was to replace all the lights in my apartment to energy saving white light bulbs. My kitchen counter opens into the hall and dining area of the apartment and so I have to turn on all their lights while clicking to get decent light on the food. Inspite of all these, there is always a tone adjustments made in the post-processing stage. Now with winter fast approaching even the slight day light I see when I get back from office is fast diminishing, and that got me worried. 

I did not know if I should invest on a couple of high intensity lamps,  or buy a product specific for photography. I read high praise about the Lowel ego lights successfully used by food bloggers, but it is expensive. It was definitely way out of my budget, at this point of time I would rather choose to invest on more lenses than a lighting system. So in the midst of all this confusion Jai's DIY idea for a tabletop lighting system was just perfect for me. I always have enjoy doing such projects, you get to have hands on fun and fiddle with stuff you usually stay away from, and did I mention that I love using tools! Assembling the coffee table, book shelves, bed stands etc are things I thoroughly enjoy. Even in engg I would look forward to our 'workshop sessions', It was like the 'games periods'  in school.

over crowded ?
But I must say, I was totally out of my element when I went shopping for this one. I cannot recollect the last time I shopped for anything electrical, if you ingore the bulbs :) I roamed through the electrical wiring and lighting shelves countless times today unable to make up my mind. I think it took me 2hrs shopping for the teeny list Jai put up. 

What did I use ? The only particle boards the store had were the ones used for shelving,  I dropped the idea to use them as that would have involved sawing to get the right size, and I was going to skip the saw (don't have one).  I asked them for the smallest and cheapest piece of wood they had and was pointed towards the 2x2 birch wood sheets, perfecto! Then I don't know what I was looking for but saw a few sheets of plastic that resembled the cross stitch board Jai mentioned, it was called a lighting panel. After that name I could not waste any more time, 2 of them were in my shopping cart. I still don't know what they are used for! :D

Next I bought the dowel rods, screws....hmm I could not recollect what it was used for and after about 15mins of browsing thru the whole collection they had, I walked away with none :D After these I headed toowards the electrical section, one I was avoiding until now. Luckily after another 15-20mins I found a helpful store assisstant who helped me pick the best combo that fit my requirement. I bought 4ft of lamp wire, 2 each of 3-way sockets, plug and cord switches. She asked me to buy electric tape which I did in my ignorance and never used in the project. I spent 30-35$ on the whole. I bought sockets and switches that would support the use of 3-way bulbs, so that if I choose so, I can vary the intensity of light.

I had 40W bulbs (energy saving kind), screw drivers, a borrowed power drill and adhesive tape at home. I skipped the saw, staplers and extra screws and the translucent paper too. The last one only because the store din't have it and I was too hungry to go spend time in another store.

lights on....action
The room was not as dark as it looks but definitely underlit, the only other light was on the far end of the living room.
So after all this, I spent a good 3 hrs setting it up, I took my own sweet time figuring out how to wire the sockets and plugs :)) The rest was breeze, and again a looooot of fun. Thank you soo much Jai for your a brainwave of a idea and clear instructions :) I had no trouble piecing it together, and was as excited as Edison when the bulb glowed :)) 

Anyone looking for a productive weekend plan, this one if just for you :)

39 thoughts:

Vidhya said...

nice pictures priya

Rachel said...

Wow and the outcome is good as well...

Manisha said...

You ate, na? Before you started tinkering around?

Good show! When are coming out here?

vegeyum said...

Well done, i am SO IMPRESSED with our handy work! Love the pics. You must be really pleased.

Nags said...

wow! i read that post too and decided to do it too, just that i am too lazy to do it now cuz we are apartment hunting n will need to move soon. also, i have no idea where to get these things in singapore (that's my excuse!)

really great job. i have to get something done cuz i do 95% of my cooking in the night.

bee said...

better than the original if i may add! excellent job. kudos to you for not waiting for hubby dear to come along :D :D

with those lamp covers there is no need for the translucent paper. my solution was kluged 'cos i started with a different idea in mind.

-jai

Pearlsofeast said...

Excellent Priya,me too inspired by the duo have set up those lights but still need to do with the cover.Thanks for ur tips.
Infact they are blessing for food photography!

The jujubes are stunning!

notyet100 said...

nice pics,..:-)

Divya said...

Looks like a weekend's work was worth it. It looks so simple, but bet was a lot of work... I am gonna take up this project... bookmarked it.

Shilpa said...

I asked V to build this for me :). I love that first picture.

Linda said...

Priya, I love the shot of sugared jelly candy! Just beautiful. I will have to check out Jai's tutorial -- I do all my cooking at night too -- well, most anyway :)

Uma said...

wow, excellent idea. I also saw this in Jugalbandi. Thanks for reminding.

Priya said...


Vidhya, thank you :)

Rachel, yes, its going to be really conveneint

Manisha, yes, got a half sandwich-half soup combo from Panera bread on the way home :)

Vegeyum, I was really thrilled by it all, I was trying to show it off to everyone I could :))

Nags, find an apartment with a studio room so you can fit the lights in :)

Jai, finding a hubby will be a 5-yr plan starting with who/where is he ?? :))
Once I had it set, I did not see a need for paper either, I did try covering it with some tracing paper but just blocked out most of the light.

Priya said...


Pearlsofeast, it is definitely the simplest solution there is and then there is the joy of doing it yourself :)

notyet100, thank you

Divya, it NOT a lot of work, trust me. I was just taking my own sweet time doing things since I ahd nothing better to do. May be 3-4 hrs or less ?

Shilpa, do it yourself! its very simple...

Linda, its nice to see here again :) Do check out Jai's post, its very well explained.

Uma, do try doing this one, you might find a lot of stuff around the house you could use.

bee said...

don't get a hubby. he will steal your login and password and start logging in as 'priya'.

Soma said...

Thanks for stopping by. Being new feels great when I have guests.:-)

regarding the methi in that quantity? it was a first time for me too. I was pretty skeptical, but the result was pretty good, tho' i'm sure what i had eaten before did not taste like this.

great light set up - good job. I need to do one of these. hate those yellow bulbs around the house.

Dibs said...

Hi - Thanks for dropping by. Saw this on Bee's site as well. congrats on making your own lamp! The photos look great.

GEETA said...

Thanks for sharing this. I've beent hinking reluctantly that I should try to improve my pictures.

Jayashree said...

Gorgeous pics.....esp the first one.

Nirmala said...

Lovely priya! I am awiting to do this since 2 weeks. u've inspired me enough now!

arundati said...

fabulous job done priya!! and the results are pretty stunning!! cheers to you and food pics with studio lighting!!

SMN said...

Nice clicks priya

Anonymous said...

pictures r great priya
ur diligence is amazing

Srivalli said...

Hey Priya, I came yesterday to say how wonderful this is...firefox crashed and am back actually a day later..heheh...nice conversations btw..:)

Manisha said...

Poor Bee. She is so lucky but doesn't know it. And if you tell her, watch out for flying aebleskiver pans with hot oil still in them.

Don't forget criteria for husband: rich, busy, travels a lot.

Priya said...


Bee, identity theft is a serious issue

Soma, do try this out, until then its all in the hands of photoshop/picasa :)


Uma, thank you.

Geeta, me too! the camera shake in low light was driving me crazy.

jayashree, thank you :)

Nirmala, let us know how it turns out.

Arundati, ya, I was really pleased with it especially after all the short cuts I managed :)

SMN & Anon, thank you soo much :)

Srivalli, thank you for coming back! I have seen such crashes too, and I realize it only when I got back to the post in acouple of days and don't see my comment, leaving me wondering if I really typed it or was just thinking about it :))

Manisha,the list just gets longer and the realization that the species is extinct grows along with it :D
and Manisha, don't risk your life yet again...and if you do..... please don't involve meee !! ~ need to run now~

buss said...

aah! feel like eating 'jujubes' my mum used to get from begum bazar now!
-nagi.
howz you? your blog is a piece of art, i should say. :-)
will definitely keep an eye out for updates!

Priya said...


Nagi, yelcome! yelcome! and pleach do keep coming :) I need to thank my stars today :P Thank you :)
The jujube's were no where close to what we used to eat, not sweet and very chewyy :( enno asalatho konnanu ...I have a whole packet of these languishing in the fridge now.

Kitchen Flavours said...

Wow awesome pictures. Gr8 work of mind in setting up.

Sonu said...

Nice pixs Priya...u ppl put hard efforts for good pixs. Excellent...! I love photography too...!

Sireesha said...

Awesome and Gorgeous pics.....especially the first one.

Sia said...

can i have those candies plz??? and priya, i am sending ur a return ticket to UK so taht u can help me with electricals ;)

Priya said...


Lubna, Sonu and Sireesha, thank you :) but trust me, its not that tough.

Sia, thank you, yayyy, I'm going UK, I'm going to UK, la la lala :)

Vaishali said...

Nice job, Priya! That picture of the jujubes is so good, you've got me hankering for them now.

raaji said...

nice lovely shots...

Laavanya said...

Nice work Priya - the lighting on the pictures are great!

buss said...

wow! great blog AND a responsive blogger. killer combo. :-)
p.s., nice pictures on your flickr page too.
p.p.s., jujubes here are like sugar-coated gummi bears. never liked those.

Anonymous said...

Well done! The jujubes look so pretty. Now I'm tempted to take on this project. 3 hours you said? That should be doable.

Mamatha

Veda Murthy said...

hi priya....

u have a fantastic and awesome looking blog here.... wow that was some grt effort there! and the outcome is fab!!!!!!good work....which camera do u use?

regrds,
veda

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