One of the biggest photography tips out there is to use natural lighting. Well, let me tell you. Natural lighting can be pretty fickle in Seattle. Paint companies have even named their gray paint after us: Seattle Gray.
Let me give you an example of how natural lighting can really enhance your photos:
The first picture was taken with my camera phone under fluorescent lighting. I thought I could fix some of the blandness in a photo editing program. Later that week, I took a picture of my pendant near a window to take advantage of some natural lighting. What a world of a difference!!!
I am appalled to have published that first picture! It is horrible! What was I thinking? Oh, yeah. I was thinking, “dang, it’s winter in Seattle. I’ll have to make do with a picture under my fluorescent lighting and try to correct it later.”
Yeah. As you can see from the pictures, natural lighting beats fluorescent lighting for sure.
Being that I live in Seattle, though, I decided I can’t rely on natural lighting alone. I want to be able to take quality pictures of my jewelry and crafts without relying on what time of day it is or whether I can capture soft light through my window or not. After doing some research (on Pinterest!), I decided to jump on the light box band wagon.
A ton of people have made their own light boxes well before me, so this isn’t anything new. However, the majority seem to be made with cardboard boxes. I found a couple of alternatives to the cardboard box and decided to make mine similar to nataliezdrieu’s DIY Light Box.
Supplies and Cost Breakdown
To make your own light box, you will need to following materials:
- 1 x Clear Storage Container (66 Qt)
- 3 x Lamps
- 1 x Package of Four Full Spectrum Bulbs
- 1 x White Poster Board (22 in x 28 in)
- 1 x package of Solid White Gift Wrapping Tissue Paper
- 1 x Surge Protector or Three Outlet Extension Cord
I bought all of my supplies from Target.
I chose a large (66-Qt) storage container that is clear and squarish (no rounded sides). It cost me $9. You could also make a frame out of cardboard or foam board, but I like the idea of the dual usability of a storage box.
The most expensive part of the set up is the lamps. If you have lamps available at home, use them. I didn’t, so I bought three clip on desk lamps for $10 each. I also bought full spectrum, 4 pack of bulbs, which was also around $10.
The total set up cost me under $50. I already had the surge protector, which was an afterthought when I realized I needed extra outlets for the three lamps.
Light Box Set Up
This is the best part. My first time setting up took me less than 10 minutes!
Here is how to set up your own Light Box:
- Remove the sticker label from your container and remove the lid. Lay the container on its side.
- Cut the poster board width down so that it will fit inside of your container. I had to cut roughly 2 inches off the side. Stick your poster board inside and tape into place.
- Drape a single layer of tissue paper on the top and sides. I didn’t even need to tape them down because of static cling!
- Remove your lamps from the packaging and install your full spectrum bulbs.
- Clip one lamp to each side and clip the third lamp to the top. Point all the lamps toward the box.
- Plug all the lamps into a surge protector and turn them on!
Presto! Light box acquired!
I chose to use a storage container over making a cardboard or foam board light box (several examples of which are pinned to my Photography Tips Pinterest Board), because once I am done taking pictures I can store all the supplies inside of the storage container. If it was made out of cardboard, I would have to figure out some place to put it where it wont’ get crushed. I don’t have to worry about storing the storage container because of its dual function. Also, the additional cost for the storage container was only $9.
Remember my Pinspired Paper Flowers? Here are some side by side pictures before and after the light box:
I still need a bit more practice working in the light box to get the right exposure. I really like how soft the lighting and shadows are in the light box.
Here is another example, using my Faux Antique Crystal Chandelier Earrings. First the before shot, which was my original “attention grabber” picture:
I took this picture with my HTC One S Camera Phone in the bathroom at work. Haha!
Now here are my unedited pictures from the light box:
After making the above collage, I decided to try lightening it all up:
What do you think of my light box pictures? Are you considering making your own light box?
Alternatives to the Light Box
Instead of making a light box, here are some ways to capture your natural lighting better:
I think I might try a combination of these solutions. Tissue paper taped to a window might help with harsh lighting conditions, since all of my windows face south.
So what do you think? Are you planning on setting up your own Light Box or Natural Lighting Photography set up? Have you made your own Photography Set Up?
We would love it if you share your work with us at Photog Show and Tell! It is a monthly photography link party designed to promote practicing our photography skills and sharing tips and tricks with each other. Hope to see you there!
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