Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How to Build A Light Box for Taking Photographs

  I finally took the plunge and decided I could use one of these homemade light boxes to photograph my jewelry for my vintage shop on Etsy.

Materials needed:
2 sheets white poster board (additional one in black-optional)
tape-I used scotch tape
cutting knife
sturdy cardboard box
small desk lamp
packing tape or duct tape(for bottom of box)

The first step is to determine what it is you will be photographing so that you will know what size tent to make.  This one is a 14x14 that I bought at Walmart for 74 cents.  The first thing I did was to lay the box flat so that you can cut 2 windows at the same time as you will need 4 windows cut in all.
I measured 2" from all sides and drew a line using my fabric ruler, then proceeded to cut out the windows with a straight-edge knife.

 The next step is to line the inside of the box in white. I already knew the sides were 2" and started cutting strips the length of the poster board.  It was real easy to measure using my fabric ruler.

Before you attach your strips you will need to tape the box at the bottom to make it stand up. Be sure to tape just the bottom as the top will remain open when you are finished.

Here is one strip in place on the inside of the box. I used scotch tape to hold it. You will need to cut enough strips to cover the entire inside of the box (16 total).

The next step is to cut squares of muslin (purchased at Walmart for 3.00) to fit over the squares you cut out for the back and sides. I found it real easy as I used my cutting mat and rotary cutter from my sewing days. Cut the square 2" larger than your openings. My openings were 12" square so I cut 14" squares out of the muslin.

Attach the squares of muslin using whatever tape you have on hand. I used scotch tape for now but may need to strengthen it later with duct tape or packing tape. I decided to just drape the remaining muslin over the top until I decide how the lighting works. You may want to put this box "over" a vase or taller piece and keeping the top open allows you to do that.

The last step is to cut a strip of your 2nd piece of poster board to fit inside the box as the backdrop to your photos. Be sure to cut it lengthwise.  You want to cut the width about 1/2" smaller than the width of your box so that it will slide right in. My box was 14" so I cut mine 13 1/2" wide.

Slide it in from the top of the box making sure that it does not crease.  You want your items to appear to be floating and a crease would show up in your shots.  The board should be gently curved then taped in place at the top of the box.  I bought a black poster board in case I wanted to change it out for a different background.
If you look at my finished box photo you will see the curved piece in the box at the back.

Here is the finished box sitting on my bar. I have my tripod in position and a bowl for the photo.  All I need now is to set my lamp up to shine in from above and I should be ready to go.

Here is a photo of a vintage creamer that I took.  It appears to be floating in space.  I will continue to adjust the lighting, but I am thrilled with the shot.  Now I need to make a larger light box to fit my bigger pieces.

TIP: I might try eliminating the step where you cut the strips of poster board to fit on the inside 2". When you take a photo using this box you are only capturing the background piece of poster board.  It may help the lighting to line the entire box with white, but I am going to see if it really makes a difference as that step takes the longest to do.

Until Next Time :)

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