Just sharing a technique

lazypupNovember 19, 2010

With the weather beginning to turn cold I decided to work on something that I could do indoors throughout the winter.

I have been looking at those table top studio light boxes on Ebay, but instead of ordering one, I decided to try my hand at building one with materials that I had on hand around the house.

I ended up with a light box that is 26" wide, 32" high and 32" deep, with a total of five lights. Its large enough that I can easily photograph a doll or household object that is 18" high. After I got it all set up and working I did some research to see what the material cost would be to start from scratch. To my surprise it can be built in about 1 hour for less than $50 with parts and materials that are all readily available.

I then moved to the testing phase to see how it works.

My GF does a little horse trading on Ebay so she was very anxious to see how advertising type product photos would come out. I'll admit there was a bit of a learning curve to get it working but not nearly as difficult as one might expect, and so far I am well pleased with the results.

If anyone would be interested in trying their hand at making one, send me an email and i will send you complete construction instructions.

I thought I might share a couple of the early photos to show how its working:

While shopping yesterday I stopped by a jewelry counter in a local department store and talked to the salesgirl. I told her what I was doing and asked if she knew where I could get one of those display stands they use for necklaces. She didn't have a clue where to buy one, but she did give me one that they no longer use.

When I got home I hung a black backdrop, set the display stand in, then hung one of Jan's old costume jewelry necklaces on it to test the effect.

The shot came out great, but while editing the photo in post processing I got a bit carried away with myself. First I added the two lens flares on a couple rhinestones to give a bit of bling to the photo, then I decided to add a little text to make a "Spoof Ad"..

Email to: LazyPup@Yahoo.com

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Clever ad and great pics! The light box really makes the light nicely distributed and no shadows (or very faint ones).

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 9:49AM
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Great job!! And I love that 100% virgin jewelry. LOL

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 2:11PM
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Your guarantee on the jewelry is toooo funny! You took some graet pics.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 2:09PM
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Can you post photo of the box itself? My wife is going to make one.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2010 at 2:30AM
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Here is a photo of the box in operation as well as a set of building plans that I drew up. I tried to make the plans as self expanatory as possible, but feel free to ask questions if need be.

Frame Diagram with material list & cut list. The PVC pipe and fittings are available in the plumbing section of any local hardware or home supply center. Total cost will be about $15 to $20 including the steel rod.
DO NOT GLUE THE PIPE. Friction fit will do fine and you will then be able to disassemble it for storage.
NOTE, When making the frames make the first frame laying flat on the table with the side opening of the TEE's pointing up as shown. When making the opposite side frame make it with the side opening of the TEE's pointing down.



Note. For lighting I am using standard household incandescent light bulbs, however incandescent lamps produce a much yellower light than daylight balanced photo floods or normal daylight which is at approx. 5000-6000degK

When using standard household light bulbs you must change your cameras "White Balance" to "Tungsten lights or 3200degK".

The spoof ad photo that I previously posted began as a light test to see how it would work out using household lights and shifting the white balance. Before posting that pic I added the text in post processing but I did not alter the white balance from the camera. I think you would agree that shifting the white balance on the camera does produce sharp clean whites with incandescent lights.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 5:41PM
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While I appreciate all your efforts and the technicial mumbojumbo..... I missed the ONE day sale!!

coulda had my christmas shopping done.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 8:55PM
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Richard, thanks for posting the photos and drawings. She ended up making one out of a stiff cardboard box.

She cut "windows" into two opposing sides and the top of the box, taped white paper over it, and illuminated with three lights.

Works like a champ!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 10:33PM
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First off, let me applaud your wife for her ingenuity.

Far too often an impressive photo is posted along with the camera, lens & EXIF data and the neophyte is left with the impression that if only they could afford a camera & lens like that or some piece of specialized equipment they could also take impressive photos. Baloney!!!!

At the end of the day it is the photo that we judge and it doesn't matter if we had a top of the line Nikon D90 or a 1960's instamatic box camera.

I merely posted this thread in the hopes that I might introduce others into the concept of diffused lighting and shifting the white balance to compensate for incandescent lighting.

While I posted details on how I built my setup that does not mean to imply in any way that it is the only way to achieve the goal, which has been demonstrated by your wife's ingenuity.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 4:53PM
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Thank you, lazypup, for posting this technique. I am an amateur photographer, and hadn't heard of photo light boxes. My experience with light boxes were the kind one used to copy (trace over) a design or pattern. I paint and was looking for a way to photo my artwork.

Using your template, I bought three 10'x 1/2" pvc pipes, 8 elbows, and 4 T's. Less than $10. The pvc cutter was $10 as well. As you suggested I did not glue the pieces but left so I could disassemble. My 3 sided box is 18"deep x 40"wide x 36"hi. The back is divided into 3 sections for easy reshaping if necessary. The front is totally open, no cross bars. I plan to use velcro to attach my sheeting. I already had clamp light fixtures, so just bought bulbs. Placing the box on my drafting table allows me to clamp the lights to the table. Temporarily draping the sheeting has already given me great delight in seeing the diffused light!

Thanks again, this made me a great birthday present from DH, who bought the supplies at my request.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 3:05PM
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