Food Photo Tips: Part 6 - Making a Mini Light Box

ann_tJanuary 1, 2013

Posted by canarybird (My Page) on Wed, Aug 12, 09 at 11:45

Food Photo Tips: Part 6 - Making a Mini Light Box

Hi again everyone. I'm back with another entry on how to use your digital camera for taking tabletop photos.

This time I'm going to show how to make a miniature version of a light box, which can be useful for photographing small objects. I'm also working on making a full sized box out of a cardboard printer box which will be used for photographing larger objects, including plates and dishes of food.

Mini box (left) Full size box under construction (right)

But it might be easier to practise with a mini box to test your results and your skills with a box cutter or sharp scissors. If you have a handy teenager, (or other person clever with crafts and model building, who won't cut off a finger with the box cutter) you may enlist some help with this although it takes less than an hour to make, requires no special skills and doesn't have to be good looking.

The idea of a light box is to create a partially enclosed 'white room', with white walls, a white sweep (that paper background we made previously in Part 4 - Seamless Backgrounds), with cutout windows and ceiling covered with white paper, into which we project a strong overhead light and usually a light on either side aimed at the white paper windows so that any object introduced into the box will be bathed in total white light with no shadows. You will have often seen pictures on the web of an object which seems to float on a pure white background. Eg: Cook's Thesaurus. This effect can be achieved in a light box.

And it's quite entertaining to see what you can produce from this setup.

These last two pictures were taken with my 15 watt CFL desk lamp overhead and one 7 watt CFL spot lamp (that green one) at the left window. Even better would be a 2nd spot pointing at the right window. (I need to go out and buy that 2nd spot lamp...they cost about $12 here so not an expensive item and good for the mini box.)

Construction of the Mini Box:

Materials needed: small box of sturdy cardboard, box cutter or small sharp scissors, ruler or metal straight edge, pen, glue stick, white paper (I always seem to use printer paper.)

I used a small box measuring 5.25 x 7 inches (13.5 x 18 cm) that contained a little desk lamp. You can use a larger box as well of course, but your lights will have to be accordingly more powerful. And I think it's better that you keep it as a vertical box, higher than wider, so that the lid opening will be your ceiling. We can still make the bigger box later once we have caught the idea of how best to create the whitest environment.

On my little box I took off the top flaps of the lid and using a box cutter, cut out windows on the sides, leaving a frame of cardboard about 1 inch (2.5 cm) all around, except for the bottom edge of the front 'door' which I cut off.

Then I took white printer paper and after cutting it to the size of one side (5.25 x 7 inches/...

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