A Photo Studio Under The Desk

A conversation about Pixelblaze digressed into photography and how I had taken some of the pictures I used. Some on this blog, some on Hackaday.io, and some elsewhere. It was a quick little project and today I’ll walk through it, illustrated with some pictures.

The problem I wanted to solve is one shared by many other makers: how to take good pictures to show off projects to the world. The dream solution is to have a full-blown photo studio where I have control over lighting. Cast on a neutral backdrop so all the focus is on the subject, free of background distractions. In reality, few of us can set aside the room required by a serious photo studio. Especially makers: every square foot consumed by a photo studio is a square foot not used for making!

My solution was to put a tiny photo studio under a computer desk. Most of the time the desk will be used for normal desk duties, home of my Luggable PC among other equipment. When I sit at the desk, I put my legs under the table.

Under Table Photo Studio 1 - Computer desk

Aside from the curtain rods sticking conspicuously out the side, all the elements of my tiny photo studio can be stowed out of the way. The white fabric is a curtain from IKEA, mounted to the rod closest to the camera and draped over the far side rod.

Under Table Photo Studio 2 - Stowed with chairs

Bolted under the desk is a cheap LED light fixture from Costco. The segment of curtain draped between the two rods serve to diffuse light from this fixture.

Under Table Photo Studio 3 - light fixture

The curtain rods are suspended under the table using simple 3D-printed brackets held onto existing table leg brackets.

Under Table Photo Studio 4 - curtain rod bracket

When it’s time to take some pictures, the chairs are moved out of the way.

Under Table Photo Studio 5 - stowed no chairs

A few magnets salvaged from hard drives hold folded-up fabric to the far side table leg brackets. Moving magnets aside allows the extra fabric to drop to the floor. The segment of curtain between the far side rod and the floor serve as the backdrop.

Under Table Photo Studio 6 - released

Remainder of the curtain can now be unfurled to serve as the photo studio floor. Sometimes I take the few minutes necessary to smooth wrinkles out of the fabric, sometimes I don’t.

Under Table Photo Studio 7 - unfurled

When the light fixture is turned on, it’s showtime!

Under Table Photo Studio 8 - lights camera action

This little photo studio under the computer desk is where I took most of the pictures illustrating Sawppy assembly. The animated GIF illustrating Luggable PC Mark I assembly. Plus many other pictures on this blog, most recently the picture of Supercon goodie bag contents.


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