Wedding Photo Booth - Forget Rentals

Homemade Wedding Photo Booth

This is Part 2 of my process of building a homemade photo booth for my wedding.  In case you missed it here's Part 1 - DIY - Homemade Photo Booth - For Wedding, where i cut and assembled all the PVC pipe and made a custom Start button out of an arcade push button.

Now before i begin, maybe just paying for a photo booth rental isn't such a bad idea.  This homemade photo boot was a lot of work, much more then i thought it would be.  I imagined it would just be putting together some PVC pipe, plug a camera into a laptop and done.  That wasn't exactly the case.

Photo Booth Rentals

 But throughout the entire process, several people have said,  "why don't you just rent a photo booth?"  I'm glad that i didn't cave in on my decision to build one.  The total cost was around $100 for all the parts (including an old Canon Camera, see part 1).  And all of the deals that people suggested on Groupon were around $200 for just a couple of hours.  So if you are willing to put in all the hard work, it's worth it.

So here's about where i left off.  Since the last post i did add a couple more support pipes, under the monitor shelf.  It's still pretty wobbly but should be fine.
photo booth pvc pipe, homemade photo booth for wedding

After i got to this point i made this list of things i still had to finish:
  • Curtains
  • Mounting brackets for the camera and button
  • Shelf layout for the monitor, laptop and printer
  • AC power supply for the camera
  • Make Tyvek bags for parts
  • Create all of the PSRemote screens
  • Create the print-out template
 Here's the view of the homemade photo booth from the back.  You can see how the shelf is supported.  I just drilled 6 holes in the board and used zip-ties.
make an easy photo booth for wedding, reception, how to

One thing i was worried about was curtains.  If i had to buy or make them, it might have doubled my cost.  Luckily i saved a bunch of money by having enough old curtains.  I used dark brown curtains as the backdrop behind where the people would stand.  These curtains would be visible in all the pictures taken.  Then i had to mix and match a few different styles as the side curtains. 
final finished photo booth with curtains, how to, build, make

Instead of creating a plan with all the dimensions and notes, i realized that a color coded plan would be much easier.  As you can see, in just a few seconds, anyone who wants to put the homemade photo booth together can look at this plan and see where all the pieces fit.  On the left it has the number of pieces, color and their length.  Then at the bottom it shows the number of connectors needed.
photo booth plan, color coded, plans, size, dimensions, how to, build, make

To put everything together it took me less than 15 minutes.  I created this time lapse video showing how to do it.  For the actual wedding reception i will probably use a rubber mallet to pound the pipes and fittings together, but for the test fit i just hand tightened them. 

Homemade Photo Booth - How To Build

The 15 minutes was just fitting the PVC pieces of the photo booth together, that does not include setting up all the electronics.  Running the cords for the laptop, monitor, button, lights, camera and power supply took another 15 minutes.  Also when i put it together at the reception i will have already threaded the curtains on the pipes.

Here are the curtains, shelf, brackets and Tyvek bags.  You can see that all of the PVC parts fit nicely in the bags i made.  
parts for photo booth, how to make, wedding reception, party

Tyvek is great for making things like this, because it's cheap and strong.  Before i've used Tyvek to make an Tyvek airfoil kite and super light-weight Tyvek backpack. I used just clear packaging tape to make the bags and it's holding up great.  This way all the parts are nicely organized and easier to store.

This is the view of the electronics that will be visible to everyone in the photo booth.  On the bottom is the start button i made.  Go back to Part 1 to see how i just soldered an arcade button to the left click of an old mouse.  In the middle is my old 19" monitor.  And at the top is the Canon SX100IS camera i had to buy for $30.   Again, i said in Part 1, that only certain Canon cameras work with PSRemote.  They have to be able to be controlled remotely and most newer cameras won't work.  You can't really see that there is also a power supply for the camera, that way i don't have to worry about changing dead batteries. 

The monitor just sits on the wood shelf and is held down with zip-ties.  For the camera and button i had to bend some aluminum to create custom brackets.  They just bolt into the PVC pipe.  The camera bracket was the trickiest, because it had to be just above the monitor and pointed slightly at a downward angle to get everyone in the picture.  I'm sure at the day of the reception that it will need some fine tuning.
homemade photo booth, button, camera, screen, build

This is what it looks like from where the people will be standing, obviously without the curtains.  At the top right and left you can see the lights i will be using.  They are just shop light with an opaque sheet to defuse the light.  And at the bottom you see the laptop and power strip.  
photo booth for wedding, how to make

Here's a close up of how i labeled all the PVC pipes.  I just wrote the lengths on them, since i have the plan that shows where all the pipes go.  There are only a couple of "special" pipes that have holes in them for the button and camera brackets.
all the parts for a photo booth, dimensions, sizes

And this is another picture that shows all of the part, not the electronics.  You can see that it's quite a bit.
all the parts and plans you need to build a photo booth for wedding

Now having said all that and taking all of those pictures, there's nothing better then a video.  So here is a complete explanation of the photo booth in action.  In the video i show it assembled, with curtains and go through the entire process of taking the pictures and having the PSRemote program print them out.

Photo Booth - DIY Homemade Instructions

 At the point that i made the video i was pretty much done except for two things, the background image layout and making sure the printer worked with small photo paper. 

Another one of the most time consuming parts of the DIY homemade photo booth process was creating the template images for PSRemote.  The program comes with some default .jpg files but for the wedding i wanted to make some custom ones.  Obviously i used our wedding colors, Tiffany Blue and Silver.  So here are the template images i created for PSRemote. 
psremote, ready.jpg, setup, screen, make 

This is the first image that the person sees when they enter the photo booth. Also PSRemote puts a live window above the text.  If you watched the video you can see what i'm talking about.  I put the red button on the screen, to let people know to push the real arcade button to start.
PSRemote background.jpg, create, how to, make, template 

This is the background of what will be printed.  In the settings i decided to go with the 1 large image at the top left and 3 smaller images along the bottom.  You can see the image layout below.  
photo booth, 1.jpg, wedding colors, how to draw 

After the start button is pressed, this screen appears and it counts down as many seconds as you input into the settings.  I had ours set for 7 seconds.  It shows "Picture 1" to let the people know what picture is being taken.
second picture in photo booth 

The second screen with the countdown timer. 

how to create psremote photo booth settings, 3.jpg 

Third picture screen. 
last picture in sequence, psremote, spark booth 

 Fourth picture.  Also i put "Last One" on there to remind everyone.
photo booth screen shot settings, how to, make 

This images appears after all the pictures have been taken.  PSRemote puts a progress bar on the screen to show when it's all done and ready to print. 

picture taking, photo booth, how to, setup screen 

This image appears for just a split second as the picture is being taken.  I decided to use 2 smiley faces rather then the text "smile".  That way people wouldn't be distracted and look at the camera.  Also i put the smiley faces high because the camera is above the monitor.
photo booth error screen, camera not connected

This appears if the camera gets unplugged.  I probably should have put some additional information to connect the cord or something.

 In order to get the images setup correctly i measured where on the screen, certain things appear.  You can see from the image on the left, that the first image i made had the text in the wrong spot.  That black bar is where the progress bar is located, so i had to move everything up, as you can see from the image "processing.jpg" above.  The image on the right shows my progress at creating the "ready.jpg".  In the settings of PSRemote i put the live preview image all the way to the top of the screen (large black area) and put the count-down text below it (small black area). 

psremote, processing.jpg, progress bar, error

This was my first attempt, you can see that i had to move the text from behind the progress bar. 
trying to create the setup screen images for psremote, spark booth, photo boof 

Here's half way through creating the "ready.jpg" image.  Once i got the black boxes positioned it was just a process of getting the text to fit around them.
testing the photo booth settings, video, live, how to

This is what it looks like while the program is running.  At first i left the live preview box where it was in the default.  But then i changed it to be larger and all the way at the top.

If you are trying to use the program, you'll know that the files must be named exactly like this in order for them to show up properly.  For complete details, just go to the PSRemote website.  They actually have pretty good support for setting up the program.  They need it though, since it's so difficult to get right.

Another thing i discovered that it's important to get the images exactly the correct size.  For example, the monitor i was using was 1280x1024 and that's why these images are all that size.  If it's off by just 1 pixel, eg 1279x1024, then it will put a message on the screen saying the images is not the correct size.  It's a little blurry, but here's what that warning looks like.  As you can see i was off by 1 pixel for the width and 3 for the height.
psremote, error, stop, warning, image size, dimension

psremote settings, photobooth settings, profile, load, save 
Here's the final settings i used, i saved them as my profile.  I changed the text to just say the actual number as a count down.  I figured the less text the better.
page print out layout, settings, dimensions, 4 picture format

And this is the settings for the actual print out.  Here's where you decide on the size and location of the images it prints. 

For the actual size of the paper that will be printed, i decided to use 1/2 of an 8.5x11 sheet.  That way i could just buy standard photo printer paper and cut it in half.  It would be a cheap and easy way to get the right size.  Here's what the printer settings looked like, highlighted in blue is the paper size. 
page size, paper dimensions, photo booth, printer setup, psremote, photo boof, spark booth

 This is the final result.  It shows the order and orientation of each photo.  The sizes and location of the squares are determined by the picture above.  For example the red square (image 1) is 100 pixels from the top and 100 pixels from the left with a height of 1700.  You only have to put one of the dimensions, height or width.  
page setup, print, printer, layout, format, photo booth, photobooth

This whole process of resizing the images so that it looks right took about an hour and resulted in 5 or 6 pages of bad test pages printed off.  But finally i got everything to look the way i wanted.

And that was about it.  Once i got all of this done i created that second video above.  I hope everything goes well for the wedding.  It's one thing for me to test it out a couple of times in the living room, but it's another thing entirely to have 200 people in there for 8 hours.  I think i should have a test run to see what might go wrong.  I mainly concerned about the printer jamming, but it could be anything.

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The photo booth ended up being a great success at the wedding.  It didn't break down physically or software wise.  Tons of people used it and everyone said it was a great idea.  This is an example of the final print out that people received.
photo booth template wedding print out photobooth psremote

Like i said earlier, it printed on half of an 8.5x11 (standard) sheet of paper.  I didn't use photo paper, it was too thick for the printer.  I ended up using a semi glossy version of standard printer paper.  The laser printer i used had no problems printing on it and it was a lot cheaper than the heavier printer paper.

Lots of people have asked questions on what printer i used.  And i have to say that a Laser printer is a must.  Those cheap HP 5002's or whatever would probably not be able to handle the heavy amount of printing necessary.  The laser printer i used was an old one from work that they didn't need and didn't want to buy the expensive $30 toner cartridge.  But the printer was constantly going all throughout the night without a hitch, where as a cheaper printer might have frozen up.


400,000 Views On My Humble Blog

I noticed that i just reached 400,000 all time page views on the old blog.
blogger, all time stats, most ever, page views

That's averaging just over 1,000 per day and more than 30,000 per month.

I won't repeat all the stats and my all time favorite pages again.  I already did that back with my 300th Blog Post.  There's also some of my favorite pictures and video's there, check it out.

But just a little bit of info.  Watch Free TV Online - Top 10 Free TV Links is still my #1 page. 
blogger, most popular pages, posts, stats
It is also still the page that makes me the most money through AdSense.  Although i have hit a bit of a plateau.  Not doing as much SEO work i'm still only averaging $3.50 per day.  Not too bad though, it's enough to get a $100 check every month from Google.

I have realized that i'm not posting as much as i used to.  It's become a bit of a chore.  I think it goes along with me not taking as many pictures as i used to.  

I'll probably do a lot more of these short quick posts and less of the long/in-depth posts that i had in the past.

How to Make a Lightbox - Photography

The key to any type of picture taking is Lighting.  When photographers want to take pictures of something like food for a commercial they use what's called a Light Box.  The basic concept is to control or direct an even amount of light in different directions onto the small object.  The best thing is that a light box is really easy to make.


Best Light Box

This is the quickest way to make a great light box for studio photography. First get a cardboard box.  The size depends on what you are planning to photograph but i would suggest as big as possible.  I went with one that was about 18" square.

cardboard box, how to make a light box 

 Next cut out holes in the sides.
cut out the sides of a light box, photography

It will end up looking like this.
easy to make light box, photography, sell, ebay
 You may have noticed this small hole in the top.  This is for taking pictures from above, but it can also be shut when taking photos from in front. 
cool vent cut out of box for top view

 Then you want to line all of the surfaces inside of the box with white paper.  This will reflect lots of light and brighten the object.  I used old sheets of 24"x36" paper from work, but you can use anything, even several different pieces.  This part doesn't have to look pretty, it's just for reflective purposes.
steps to make a lightbox, macro photography

To attach the paper to the cardboard i used spray adhesive.  The heavy duty can on the right worked a lot better then the general purpose stuff on the left.

spray adhesive, buy, how to use, glue

Here's the basic idea.  You are trying to reflect the light off of all the white paper surfaces.
light box photography concept

Finished gluing all of the white paper to the flaps.  Then i had to do the tricky inside parts.
almost finished light box
Here's what it looked like after all the white paper was glued in place.
easy to make white box, light box photography

Then i glued a semi-transparent sheet covering the holes we cut out on the sides.  This is where the light will be aiming from the outside.  The fact that the plastic is semi-transparent will help even out the light.
studio lighting, light box, prices

This is what it looks like when it's all done.  I used shop lights, one on either side and one in front. 
at home studio lighting, photography

It's kind of difficult to show a good picture of the whole thing.  Also i found out that you have to use the manual settings of your camera or else things turn out bad.  With that much white light i found that the Tungsten lighting setting made everything look natural.  Otherwise it all had a weird yellowish color.  Also i had to play around with the Aperture and Exposure Time to get a good picture.  It wasn't as easy as i thought.

One thing i forgot to photograph is the backdrop paper.  The is the only part of the white paper that will be in the picture.  From the image below you can kind of see the idea.  It's hung from the back in the top and is curved down to the front.  That way you don't see any corners and it has a sort of endless depth.
basic concept of light box 

I was planning on it being able to fold up and store easily when i was done, but that was not the case.  It takes up a lot of room at the moment.  I'll have to find a way for it to fold into a flat sheet.


Spring Training 2013

Back in March i flew to Arizona to watch spring training baseball.  This was my 4th year going with Adam and John.  We also meet with John's uncle and friends.

Here's the links to the other times i went down there:
I didn't take a lot of pictures this year.  Mostly just a bunch of panorama pictures of the different stadiums we went to.

This was the stadium in Surprise Arizona.  We never made it to our seats at this game.  We just hung out in right field under the umbrella. 
Surprise Arizona, baseball stadium, minor league, spring training

Last year when Karrie and I were at this stadium it was cold and windy.  This year the entire trip was perfect weather, 80's and sunny every day.
 spring training arizona baseball tickets, buy, sell, stadium

 This field was really nice, but mostly old people at the game.
spring training baseball watchers

The next stadium we wen to was in Peoria.  I thought that this was the best field for watching a baseball game.  It was smaller in terms of capacity but the seats seemed a lot closer to the field.
Peoria baseball stadium, arizona, panorama, seat view

Here's the view of the field from the dugout. 
arizona baseball, panorama, view from the field, duggout

We had really great seats, perfect angle from the field.  We were just to the left of home plate, 20 rows up.  Last year the old, white-bearded Jason Giambi hit a homerun that cleared the right field wal by about 2 inches.  This year he hit another homerun to right center about 400 feet. 
view from seat, peoria, spring training baseball, field, game

Then we went back to the new Scottsdale stadium.  We watched two game here, one during the day and one at night.
scottsdale stadium, panorama, field, view, baseball

This is by far the most popular.  They just recently built it and it's super nice.
panorama baseball stadium, arizona

There were loads of fans at both the day and night games.
arizona diamondbacks, baseball, stadium, panorama

It looks just like a major league ball park except it only hold around 12,000 people.  Actually at the night game i think they put something up on the score board that said we set an attendance record for that stadium.
view from seat, diamondbacks baseball

Here's what it looks like at dusk from the bridge in right field.  Like all of the stadiums it has a grass berm outfield.  The tickets there usually go for just $10.

how much do tickets cost for spring training baseball game

Us watching the game.
what to do at a spring training baseball game

Here's a couple more of the same pictures.
best seats for diamondbacks spring training baseball game

The view from center field.
view from centerfield, baseball

As always i had a great time just hanging out and going to the baseball games with Adam and John.
baseball panorama