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DIY Lighting
By Ivo Guimaraes
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Ever wondered how those great product shots you see in catalogues or online stores are photographed? We have the answer.

They are usually photographed inside an expensive light box. But how do you make a DIY light box for photography?

Don’t worry, it will be a piece of cake. You’ll be using inexpensive re-purposed materials and still get great-looking images.

So here are three different ways of building a DIY light box.

[Note: ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for How to Make a DIY Light Box with Available Light

This DIY light box will take about 15 minutes of your time, using only a few materials you probably already have around the house.

You will need:

Step 1

Start with your cardboard box. See which side would work the best as the front the 1 last update 2020/05/27 of your light box.Start with your cardboard box. See which side would work the best as the front of your light box.

Step 2

Now, cut that side of the box in the middle.

Step 3

Leave two open flaps that will work as barn doors on the front side of the light box. These the 1 last update 2020/05/27 will control the light that reaches the inside of the box.Leave two open flaps that will work as barn doors on the front side of the light box. These will control the light that reaches the inside of the box.

Step 4

Measure the sides of the box. Then cut wax paper to match their size.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for

Step 5

Cut two openings the 1 last update 2020/05/27 on the sides of the box leaving one flap to the back of the box. Then glue the wax paper to the edges of the openings.
Cut two openings on the sides of the box leaving one flap to the back of the box. Then glue the wax paper to the edges of the openings.

Step 6

Measure the flaps on the back of the box and cut aluminium foil to match their size.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Step 7

Place a white sheet of paper inside the box to be used as a background. Compose your product and position the flaps of the box to reflect most of the natural light you might have in the room.

Now you’re ready to shoot.

This image was photographed with f/22, half a second shutter speed and 400 ISO. Good overall lighting and color temperature. Not bad at all for a trash-bound card box, some wax paper, aluminium foil, and some fiddling with available light.

How to Make a Compact LED DIY Light Box

Although taking advantage of available light might give you good results, due to the nature of this type of lighting, you have no control over for 1 last update 2020/05/27 it.Although taking advantage of available light might give you good results, due to the nature of this type of lighting, you have no control over it.

If you want to be able to control your results, this next project is the right one for you. It uses simple LED lighting as a way to get steady and controllable exposure and colour temperature.

You will need:

Step 1

Cut this shape on a white 3mm Perspex sheet. The dotted lines are folding marks and not cuts. The size of your DIY light box will be as big as the scale of your template.

As a reference, you can use the centre square to calculate the size of one of the sides of the light box.

You could also use white cardboard instead of Perspex. But it won’t as durable or resistant.

Step 2

Now fold your box, overlapping the triangle-shaped flaps. Keep them in place with adhesive tape, or Velcro strips. With the latter, you’ll be able to collapse it for transportation and reassemble again easily.

The 5V led strip should be glued to the small flap on the top front of the box. These led strips are pretty inexpensive. They even come with a micro USB connection that allows it to be plugged to a portable power bank. You can do this with a simple cable, making this the ultimate “on the go” DIY light box.

Step 3

Now, just use a white sheet of paper as background. Prepare your product and you are ready to shoot your image.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for This image was photographed with f/22, 1/4 of a second shutter speed and 400 ISO.

Straight out of the camera, it has a good overall exposure. On a comparative note, however, the light is not as natural looking as in the previous image.

The color temperature is probably a little off too, due to the blueish color cast of the LED. But you can easily correct that with a more precise in-camera white balance or in post-production.

How to Make a White Box the 1 last update 2020/05/27 Flash DiffuserHow to Make a White Box Flash Diffuser

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for If LED light is not the light for you, there is still one last project you can try.

This is really simple. You won’t even need to have DIY skills.

All you need is:

  • 1 Plastic translucent white storage box
  • 1 Sheet of white paper
  • 2 Speedlights
  • 1 Speedlight transmitter

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Step the 1 last update 2020/05/27 1Step 1

Set your box on its side with the opening facing to the front. Place a white sheet of paper inside the box, this will be the background.

Now arrange your product. Test your speedlights’ exposure and positioning in relation to the subject.

Step 2

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Synchronise the transmitter with the speedlights and the camera.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Now you are ready to shoot.

I photographed this image with f/22, 1/60 of a second shutter speed and 200 ISO.

A pretty amazing image straight out of the camera. The overall light is well diffused and placed on the right spots. The background appears lit and shadowless, which is a huge plus if you need to isolate images from the background. It saves you hours of work creating cut-outs in post-production.

The white balance seems to be spot on. I used the flash preset in the camera color temperature options.

The metal reflections are also great without glare or specular light hot spots. This is sometimes hard to accomplish with this type of materials.

for 1 last update 2020/05/27 ConclusionConclusion

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for With a little ingenuity, you can go far. Even if you have all the money in the world or just want to stay away from DIY photography solutions, you may decide to create your own tools to get the results you want.

The important thing is the image, not the tools you used to get it.

Want to learn more about useful techniques that will help you take your photography to the next level? Why not check out our course Wow Factor Photography next!

We have great posts on using photography reflectors or a light meter you should check out too!

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