I made a Light Box...so can you!

I prefer to photograph in natural light, but on days like today when it is SO gloomy outside I just can't wait for the sun. I am often impatient and my need for immediate satisfaction means I am itching to get some photos taken - NOW!!! Well, with after reading up on it from a number of sources, I decided to try one on my own. Why not, right?

Here's a short list of materials required for this project:
  • Cardboard box: the size you require will be dictated by the items you are photographing. Mine is approx 14" x 12" x 12".
  • Utility knife or scissors
  • Paper table cloth or tissue paper
  • Bristol board
  • Packing or Duct tape
  • Thin plastic table cloth (optional)
  • Light source
Step by Step Instructions on how to make your very own CUSTOM light box:

Step One:
Prep your work area, have all of your tools handy. This step will save you time and a whole lot of aggravation!

Step Two:
Remove the top and bottom flap, leaving the two sides intact for light control purposes. Remove the side and top panels carefully, leaving a 1.5" edge all the way around. Be careful!! I scored the cardboard using a straight edge, making it easier to slice through with my utility knife. I have removed the bottom entirely. This way, I can use it over objects such as outdoor plants, etc. Remember to recycle everything you aren't going to be using!

Step Three:
Cut your paper table cloth (or tissue paper) to size. Tape carefully to each of the three open sides. I used a paper table cloth from the dollar store because it's a little more durable than tissue, and still a good transparency. In my house, I'd be afraid that the tissue paper would get torn too easily! As a bonus, you can cut the table cloth in one piece to wrap around all three sides.

Step Four:
This is the tricky part. I covered the inside of the box with a very thin white plastic tablecloth (again from the dollar store). I was finding that it was still a little dark with so much cardboard showing. Carefully trim and either tape or glue onto the inside, making sure to cover your corners. Ed. Note: I wonder if spray painting the inside of the box white first before step 3 would work. If anyone tries this tip, please leave a comment to let us know how it worked out!

Step Five:
Cut strips of Bristol board to fit into your light box. You want it long enough to go up the top on the inside and curve down onto your flat surface. Use as many different colors as you want for this and feel free to change it often!

Step Five: Set up your light source. Here's the great thing about this project. You control the light; the source, how much, how little, positioning - everything!! I picked up a cheap little florescent light fixture and it will be good for now. I have been having to adjust my white balance on the camera, so I would definitely suggest using an incandescent source. As you can see from my samples below, I am still working in the white balance to get a consistent subject color!
Here is the same hat shot with 3 different backgrounds.

Four different backgrounds used to shoot this glass tile pendant.

If I can do it, so can you!!! Honest. From start to finish, this DIY project took me just over an hour. Some of which was spent taking these photos for samples. I'm happy I invested this short amount of time. Now I don't have to wait for the sun, I can take my photos whenever the mood strikes me! The irony of this post is, the sun IS NOW SHINING!
Good luck to all of you! Happy Photo Shooting!!


Colleen said...

Thanks for posting this! I will probably give it a try. I always struggle with lighting and take most of my pictures outside, so when it rains I'm stuck waiting.

MegsCrochetJewels said...

Thanks so much for this post!! Ive been wanting to make one so bad!!This might sound like a stupid question but what is bristol board??

doeStudio said...

@MegsCrochetJewels: Remember the stuff you used to use in school for displays and science projects?? It's thicker than card stock and about 2' x 3'. Got it at the Dollar Store, 2 for $1. Lots of colors!!

Flight Fancy said...

Great work, thanks for sharing :)