4/26/2013

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.

2 comments:

Joe said...

Thanks for this! Any particular settings on the camera to make the photo better?

Dave Wirth said...

Well like i said in the post, make sure you have your White Balance set to Tungsten, otherwise everything comes out with a yellow tint to it.

Other then that i don't think the aperture or shutter speed make a whole lot of difference, since i was using a tripod and the depth of field didn't really matter.

-Dave