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Photo set-up in the shop

Wm. R. Robertson

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One thing I have always wanted is a easy photo set-up in the shop. Since just about every bodies shop is not quite big enough for everything, including mine with over 60 liner feet of workbenches, a space that can be used for other things as well as a photo studio would be in order. I have just gotten tired of setting up and the tripping over all those tripods and light stands.

So, wouldn't it be nice to have a background that rolled down into place and lights hanging from the ceiling . This way I only have to set up the camera tripod..... And shoot away. When I remodeled my shop last year I left room for this a month or so ago I finished it.

Here is a bench as just a bench.....


Now in just minutes it is transformed into a photo studio......


What we have is a background of rolled paper that comes down from above and clamps to the front of the table, it is 5 feet wide..... Plenty for most anything I do. Then I have two scissor things made of aluminum, these run on shower door tracks with two 4 wheeled "dollies" mounted at each end of a 1/2" alum. bar. This makes the whole thing quite stable, it has 3 feet of movement. Then since I couldn't decide whether I wanted photo floods or really bright halogens I mounted both on the ends of a 18" bar. This way they can be swiveled into position and even brought towards the center. There are also clamps for umbrellas and defusers.



Now they do make commercial stuff like this but it was too big for my small shop and low ceiling so I had to make my own. Most of the parts came off eBay, the scissors were $ 25 each I think, the lights were slightly used, about a $ 100 for 6 of them with stands, the shower track was NOS from some hardware store at a fraction of the new price. Most expensive were the knobs and levers from McMaster Carr....... Anyway the whole cost was about $ 250.........

Next I'll make up some kind of soft box to sit on the bench and maybe play with some LED lights..... Anyway it is really nice to be able to get good photos quick right in the shop!

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This is a really great idea Bill! I have the perfect spot in my workroom...will just need to sort out all the accumulated stuff on the surface that aren't really supposed to be there. I think I have a big enough piece of left over block out fabric in my stash from a roll down blind I made many years ago, it will be perfect for a back drop. And a weekend at home with time to do this.

Thanks for sharing!

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Very nice set-up.  I wish I had ceiling more compatible with a track system. 


I am always using makeshift lights along with a Bogen studio salon camera stand on wheels.   The lighting is mostly the problem so maybe something mounted on the camera stand but I haven't given it much thought.

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I recently attended a Saturday morning photography workshop at our local Museum of Art, and learned about filtered light.  If you take the time to set up an inexpensive light box with rice paper, wrapping paper, freezer paper, white silk fabric, etc, etc, it made a huge difference in your photos... and the instructor demonstrated this  with point & shoot cameras... and the same effect of using filtered light with the expensive cameras too.  All instruction was with digital cameras, but it was amazing to see the difference...setting up a good photo station is something else to add to my list of things to do.


I learned that lighting had a larger effect on the quality of the photo... while the camera is important you could still get wonderful photos without a thousand dollar camera.


I like the setup... the roll up screen is a wonderful idea! 


I think I like the concept of the light attached to a scissor arm ideal for the workbench.  If I mounted the lights to tracks in the ceiling I could get rid of the lights at each area attached at the table top... or my rolling lamps on wheels... (Petitpointers call these rolling lamps on wheels our street lights!)


I see lots of scissor brackets selling on ebay...



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