I just took a bunch of pictures of jewelry this morning with my light box and my new OttLites. They were definitely worth the price, especially since I got the bulbs on sale! Also, the light box was cheap to make (and my husband made it for me, no less). This is a tutorial on how to make a light box that is almost exactly like the one he made. A cardboard box, some tissue paper, and you're done. I don't use the poster board. Instead, I lined the bottom with white printer paper and then use various fabric drapes (usually a white sheer drape with a print fabric underneath).
Here's another example of a picture I took using this new set-up that includes the OttLites:
This one is called Safari Fun and is made with some really neat beads. I really like the swirls and stripes in the black and white beads and especially in the red, black and white beads (because there's more color!).
Now that I've gone on a picture-taking frenzy, I can pack everything away for the week. I put the light box onto a wooden tv tray, then I clip the three desk lamps to three sides of the table. I have all three plugged into a single extension cord so plugging them in is a one-step process. When I'm finished, all three lamps go into a lidded plastic box I bought (originally intended to be my light box, but the cardboard/tissue box that my husband made works better) and they stay plugged into the extension cord so I don't have to plug them all in again next time. Right now, the light box goes on top of my desk, but I want to find a different place to store it.
Currently, I don't use a tripod to take my pictures because I can't adjust the shutter speed on my little digital camera. This means that I do still have to do some minor editing to the pictures once I upload them to my computer, but with the new lights, there's very little editing to do (I just need to brighten them a little). If I did decide to start using a tripod, I'd either need to pull out my big tripod and stand it on the floor next to the light box, or find a bigger table so I could use my little tabletop tripod. Right now, my hands are steady enough that the pictures mostly turn out pretty clear.
I'm really proud of the improvement my pictures have had from the very beginning. If you look in my Etsy shop, you can definitely see an evolution of my photography from my earlier listings going from a plain white background and not very good lighting, to using a musical background and slightly better lighting, to using fabric backdrops, to using the light box with plain light bulbs to my latest listings using the lightbox and bulbs I'm using now. My pictures are far from perfect (I'm still trying to figure out some good props, for instance), but I think I'm definitely heading in the right direction!