Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Importance of Lighting

I learned something new today, thanks to etsy seller BuyMyCrap. She started this thread about using Ott Lite bulbs for photographing items, and even let us know the bulbs were on sale at Home Depot for only $6.

Well, I don't have a Home Depot nearby - there are not many big box stores in Manhattan, at least not around where I live - but after reading over 20 pages and 200-something posts, I just had to find some of these bulbs.

So what's so special about them? They are "full spectrum" light bulbs. I can't explain the science behind it, but they're designed to simulate natural sunlight. Apparently they've been marketed to crafters for doing detail work and being able to accurately match colors at night. It just makes sense that they'd be good for photographing said crafts once they're done.

Thus I embarked on an expedition to find these bulbs (or something similar). There are several small hardware stores within walking distance of my apartment, so my plan was to check those, but I remembered that I needed to pick up rubbing alcohol, so I popped into Duane Reade on my way. And what the heck, they sell light bulbs, it's worth a look, right? Much to my surprise, not only did they sell GE brand full spectrum light bulbs, they actually had some in the store brand! And really, at $4.49 for a 4-pack, how could I not try them?

So I picked up a pack of 100W (the one drawback - incandescent bulbs... the real Ott Lites are fluorescents) and hurried home to try them out.

The one item that I've struggled the most with photographing accurately is my Perfect Loofah in Flamingo Pink. It's a really bright pink, but the pictures kept coming out rather salmon-colored.

Here's a Before/After collage of the pictures for my listing. This is the exact same loofah, taken in the same light box with different light bulbs. The pics on the left were taken using standard compact fluorescent light bulbs. The ones on the right were taken with my Duane Reade store brand full spectrum light bulbs.

Amazing difference, isn't it?


  1. ohh Wow! I saw that thread and boy do those full spectrum light bulbs make a difference!! I am going to have to get some of them =) Thanks for posting those before & after pics.

  2. Nice lighting setup, but isn't that thing called a shower pouff and not loofah? I always though loofah was something all natural.

  3. Hi Judy, I think you're technically correct, but I have heard bath puffs that aren't made from natural loofah commonly called loofahs, and I guess that's just what I've always called them! They have far too many names... loofah, loofa, luffa, bath puff, bath pouf, shower puff, shower pouf, bath sponge, scrubbie, etc, etc...

    I had to call it something, so I picked loofah and I'm sticking to it! (at least for now... technicalities have a way of bugging me... so we'll see if it bugs me enough to change it...)


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