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Does the size of the lightbox matter?


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I have a small light box made from one of the smaller mailboxes that I got in the mail a while ago. It's a perfect square of which I cut out 3 of the sides and made it into a lightbox.


In general I notice my photos being a bit dark when I develop them in Photoshop, I follow MG's tutorial on the photographing and developing of the miniature pictures and have no idea why mine come out so dark. I end up, on the layer that is screened, having to have it pretty high which washes out my highlights, etc.


So, is this because of my lightbox?

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The size of the light box ought not affect your pictures like that. Chances are one of three things is happening to cause dark photos.


1 - Your not getting enough light into the camera


This can be fixed one of several ways. You can simply move the light sources closer to the box, but sometimes that can cause red or yellow shift, especially if you use standard tungsten bulbs. The second solution is to make your exposure longer. I'm not sure what kind of camera you use, but if you have a shutter-priority option, try increasing the exposure time to let more light in.


2 - You need to adjust your exposure compensation.


Most cameras have some form of exposure compensation even if they don't offer shutter or aperture priority. Generally the settings are somewhere between -2 (darkest) to +2 (brightest). Check your manual and see if your camera lets you adjust those settings any.


3 - Your camera is metering the light based in part on the white background in your light box.


Metering is when your camera measures the amount of light coming in to help it to decide how long to expose the picture and soforth. More sophisticated cameras let you choose different ways to meter the light such as evaluative (average light in the whole frame), center-weighted (average amount of light in the middle area of the frame) or spot (only on the spot where the autofocus area is pointed). For most photos, the evaluative metering gets the best results, so many point-and-shoot cameras and phone cameras use that sort of metering. Unfortunately, if you have a very bright background and a small darker subject to focus on, your camera might see all that brightness and try to compensate for it by quickening the shutter. Check your manual to see if you can change your style of metering to spot or center-weighted. If you do not have those options, try placing a medium grey or other neutral coloured background behind your minis instead of the white.

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