Thursday, April 7, 2011

What a difference!

Today was a great day; weather-wise (for Michigan in early April), for getting things done, for my mental health in general. 

I feel like I've been just barely keeping my head above water for a few weeks now, with all the new things to learn. None of it was particularly difficult, but when put into a shortened time frame all at once, it was a little overwhelming. 

So, I'm happy to report that things are settling in and I actually accomplished something big today: I DIY'ed a lightbox for photographing my smaller items! YAY!! On a quick Google search, there were a number of articles on how to make one cheaply (they're speaking my language there...), and the one I used was Easy to follow instructions and no photography-speak over my limited knowledge.

Here's what I started with:

A cardboard box, approx 12.5"x13", packing tape, a ruler, a sharpie, tissue paper, and an exacto knife. I didn't bother using the marker or ruler in the end, but hey...that's just how I roll.

First step is to tape the bottom of the box (this was actually the top, but hey...):

Next, you'll want to cut out 'windows' on both sides of the box, and on the top, approx. 2" in from the sides. This is where the light will shine through:

At this point, I realized ALL corners needed to be reinforced with tape - otherwise your box is going to be flimsy. 

Here's what my lightbox looks like with the windows:

The bottom could be cut out as suggested in the source article, but honestly I was ready to use this baby and figured that could be done at any point. Having an open bottom allows you to place the entire box over something, like a plant outside. But really, when am I going to take this outside and shoot a plant? Ok, moving on.

Now that you've got windows, the light needs to be diffused to prevent those nasty shadows:

I happened to have tissue paper, but I believe fabric can be used also. Tissue paper seemed easier if it was going to be taped down, and it was easy to cut to size. 

The last step is to tape paper, or poster board, or fabric to the inside back of the box and let it waterfall down through the front. When an item is placed on this, it provides a nifty infinity edge (remember not to crease the paper!) Very professional looking.

Cut and taped and placed on a table, with my lights shining on and through it, here's my $.99 lightbox (I had to buy the poster paper). Yes, my paper has a bit of a bump in the back. I obviously failed taping in kindergarten. Will I fix it? Maybe...

This photo illustrates how bad indoor lighting is for photography. My office light was on if you can believe it. Or maybe I'm just generally in the dark.

Here's a before and after to show what a difference this set up makes:

Saucer before: 

Saucer in lightbox:

What a difference! It's still not perfect and I suspect my lights aren't bright enough, but for now I'm calling it good.

Here's a sneak peek at my other ongoing projects:

That's a whole lotta projects going...stay tuned to see if I can finish something else this week!


  1. Awesome job Jill! Here's good info:

  2. Wow what a difference the light box made! Great job!

  3. Thanks for the info Jay!
    Thanks Jackie - it's quite amazing, isn't it?


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