Thursday, March 20, 2014

DIY Photography Lightbox

As someone who loves to photograph every little thing they buy (mostly make-up), I felt that I needed to have a backdrop, or something I can take my photos in since the lighting in my room makes everything look a bit orange/yellow. I decided to make a mini photoshoot set or a "photography lightbox" to capture photos of products and food, or anything that fits in the box I chose.
You will need the following items:

  • a cardboard box, the bigger the better, so you can fit things into it to take pictures
  • white tissue paper, or a white table cloth, white cotton sheet, anything that will diffuse light
  • white duct tape
  • white bristol board (you can even buy the half size ones depending on how big your box is)
  • two to three cheap but decent lamps
  • lightbulbs that give off natural light
  • scissors
  • xacto knife. box cutter
  • sharpie/pen or pencil
  • time - this took me 2.5 hours to make.
Alright have your items? Lets begin!

Step One: Start by cutting the flaps off the lid of your box.

Step Two: On the side that will be the top of your lightbox, measure a width of 1.5 inches around the whole box, and mark the box with a pencil/sharpie. You will be cutting out the rectangle you have drawn once you've connected all the lines.

Now the top of the box should look like this:

Step Three: Now measure the two sides of the box, making a 2 inch boarder this time and cutting out the rectangle/square you drew. 

Now it should look like this. Then repeat with the other side.

If you noticed, my box has the ugliest edges because I used my brother's knife to cut my box, since I did not have an xacto or a box cutter haha. Oh well this is my first time making it so it doesn't have to be perfect.

Now your box should look like this! You should now have two windows on the sides of your boxes and a window at the top of your lightbox.

Step Four: Now the tedious and most annoying part. Take your material that you are going to diffuse the light with (I am using tissue paper) and measure it so that it will cover the windows you just cut in the box. Once you have cut it out, use the duct tape and seal all the edges. Now all the windows you have cut out should be covered and sealed. 

The finished product after taping and cutting.

Step Five: The next step is to take your duct tape, and cover the inside of your box.
You do not have to cover the bottom, unless you want to. The bristol board should cover the bottom and the back of the box for the most part.

Step Six: If you're lazy and like to half ass things like me, then this part will probably suck the most. If you're very accurate and like to properly measure out things, then this part will be a breeze. Take your bristol board and measure it so that it will fit inside your box perfectly. The bristol board should be long enough to cover most of the bottom of the box too. IMPORTANT: The bristol board should NOT make a 90 degree angle inside the box. It should be curved when laying inside the box. We are trying to avoid harsh lines in our photos. This part of the project made me rip one of my tissue paper covered holes. So annoying. So make sure you measure your bristol board out properly!! It should now look like this. The bristol board should lay in the box, with a curve where the back wall meets the floor of the box. This will create the backdrop for your photoshoots. 
As you can see I did a pretty horrible job taping everything up and my bristol board doesn't cover the top, but thats okay since it won't be seen when you're taking close up shots of products.

Step Seven: If you already have lamps you can use, then you're done the project! Yay. So in this step I had to build the lamps that I got from Ikea. One was for $3.99 which is the clamp one, and the other was $4.99 that came with a stand. Both lightbulbs were $8.99 pretty pricey. 

After you set up the lights on both sides of your box (or if you have a third lamp set it up to shine on the top of the box) you have now made your own photography lightbox to take awesome photos in! yay. 
I definitely think if I had a third lamp shining on top it would make it look a lot nicer. From this photo above you can definitely see that my room, with the brown flooring and the brown desk, it makes the lighting look REALLY yellow. 

So here is an example of a photo used in the lightbox. 
Definitely looks a lot better than photos I've taken before. Now just need an editing program to crop my photos. Or I could even have used a way bigger box. 

A close up shot. The lighting still looks a bit yellow, but I think there would be a huge difference if I move outside my room to shoot photos.

Below this caption is a shot outside of the box with flash. Looks pretty horrid in my opinion. 

The colours are definitely more vibrant but that is because flash was on. 
This whole project costed me $40-$45 only because I bought expensive lightbulbs from Ikea and I could of probably bought the tissue paper from the dollar store, but I got a huge pack from Michaels for $9.99 but with a 40% off coupon. Still pretty pricey for tissue paper, but I will have a lot left over since I most likely will make a bigger lightbox.

I hope you enjoyed learning how to make your own photography lightbox. Definitely will come in handy when I take pictures of products from now on!

UPDATE: So I found that using a third light source on the top of the box makes a  HUGE difference with lighting. Here are some more photos with a little lighting enhancement:

(Sully from Monsters Inc. One of my most favourite photos I have taken so far in the lightbox.)

(My panda staple free stapler)

(Katy Perry Killer Queen perfume)

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