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Friday, June 1, 2012

DIY Light box for product photography

     Credit goes to for this article

Building a light box is pretty easy stuff. A light box is particularly useful for product photography where you need a nice white background. Many people find that their products will actually sell faster with a more professional looking photo. Here you’ll find a step by step on how to build your own DIY light box.
This thing isn’t really rocket science at all. I think it’s more the technique that people would be interested in. I’ve received a lot of e-mails asking about the light box so I hope this will be a help to anyone wanting to stay inside during the winter months and take shots of random stuff from the fridge.

Foam Board
 You’ll need 5 sheets of foam board, also called foam core or foam poster board. If you go to the local craft / art store you should be able to pick up large sheets for just a few dollars a piece. I have a huge box in my basement and the pieces were $4.99 a piece. The board used in this tutorial was $1.99 a piece (each piece is 30″x 20″). * My recommendation is to get a thicker piece for the bottom where the object will sit.

White Tape
 The tape I’m using is between 1″and 2″wide white masking tape. Stay away from duct tape, as the heat from the lamps makes the glue really messy. This masking tape is nice and lightweight and if you need to, you can take the tape off to re-adjust.
 Lamp / Light Bulbs
 I’m using clip-on shop lights from Home Depot / Lowe’s. You can pick these up for just a few dollars a piece.($3-$9)
 I’m using just a standard bulb from Home Depot. I’ve tried all sorts of bulbs. To your eye they may all look the same, the camera picks up different colors from different lights.
 I tried full spectum bulbs and really have to say that they’re not worth it. Learn to set the white balance on your camera and shoot in RAW if possible.
 *Above all, I favor and would suggest using a flash directed straight up into the top of the box, this is THE BEST WAY TO GET A GOOD WHITE BACKGROUND – (see the diagram below).
 You’ll need a razor knife and a straight edge.


 1. Attach the Top and Bottom 

Here is a quick sample of how I apply the tape. I know it’s overkill to show this but I’d rather err on the side of being thorough. 

2. Attach the Left and Right

 It may be hard to see how it will come together, but I just applied the left side (which is at the top of the photo below). Do the same for the right side.

3. Cut Off Overhang on the Sides

Left: Shows the box with the overhang on left and right side.
 Middle: Shows using a straight edge to cut the excess. 
Right: Shows the box with the sides trimmed down. 

4. Cut Notches in Sides

 This is something I just recently started doing. I found that I wasn’t able to set the lights deep enough so cutting a notch in the side helps. You may have to skip this step and see the final deal, then you’ll get the idea. 
The notches I cut were only a few inches deep, you could do more or less. Make it work for you. *If you’re using a flash this step is unnecessary. 

5. Lights

 You can see I added a few more lights. The more the better in my opinion. *Use a flash if possible. 

Showing the outside of the box. 

Use this light box with a Flash. Here would be a sample illustration of how to use the flash with this setup. This works like a charm. 

Optional Step
 You can apply a strip of tape to the back seam on the bottom. Apply it so the tape forms an even transition between the two pieces of foam core. This hides the back seam so you don’t have any shadows in the background. Here is a quick and dirty illustration to show what I mean: 

See What it Produces
 After literally 2 minutes with the light box and a few snaps later here is a shot I took of one of my lenses. Obvious improvements could be made here but this is just a quick image to show you how simple using this box can be. 

But Wait, There’s More
 Here is another trick I started doing. Sometimes I like to shoot the object from a top view. If you cut a hole in the top of the box, this is possible. Be careful not to cut too much, you’ll want to score the part you don’t cut, that makes it bend with ease. 

Here is a sample of shooting a necklace through the hole I just cut in the top of the box. 

 I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I’m hoping that it was easy enough to follow. From start to finish this project should take no longer than 30 minutes

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