Today we’re going to learn how to build a DIY light tent, or a lightbox for product photography, for next to zero cost.
This little studio-in-a-box doesn’t even need a flash to work its wonders. Any bright lamp, and even sunlight will do. This is basically a light tent, and it creates beautiful light by default. The secret is being able to have nice, soft, even light coming from either sides or the top – or any combination of the three. It is one of the most useful DIY gadgets you could make and, frankly, it’s very difficult to screw it up.
What can you use it for?
That’s pretty much up to you, and the use will only be limited by the size of the box you use. Use medium sized box to showcase cakes and other baked goodies, or create a bigger one for a more tiered confections.
And when I say next to zero, I do mean next to zero, because you can probably build this mostly for free if you have a cardboard box, tracing paper or tissue paper and glue lying around in your living space. The only thing you’ll have to buy is a roll of paper or poster board or mahjong paper – that would make the total damage less than $2. Don’t blow the rent money, and let’s get started!
ADDITIONAL READING: Cake Photography Can Be A Piece Of Cake
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- A cardboard box. Any size, the thicker the better.
- A few sheets of tracing paper or tissue paper
- A small roll of paper. Measure according to the length of the box
- Pen knife (cutter), scissors, pencil, ruler, paper glue or sellotape.
OPTIONAL: 1-2 sheets black poster board
Step 1: Use a pair of scissors to cut off the TOP FLAPS on the box. You won’t be needing this.
Step 2: Using a pencil and ruler, draw a square or rectangle on 3 sides of the box. The square or rectangle should be around 4 cm away from the edge.
Step 3: Using a pen knife or cutter, cut out the sides of the boxes, creating windows at the sides. The windows should be big enough to allow a lot of light into the box, but not too big that it destroys the frame, so 4 cm should be fine.
Step 4: Apply glue onto the edge of the window. And then paste the tracing paper onto the edges. Alternately, you may also use sellotape instead of glue.
Step 5: Apply glue to the base of the box and then securely paste the roll of white paper. Only apply glue to the base, so that the paper will fall naturally, creating a seamless backdrop.
HOW TO USE YOUR DIY LIGHTBOX
You’ll need at least one source of light. You can use:
- SUNLIGHT – this is the universal light source for everyone, and you can use it from whatever direction you need by rotating the box.
- A bright LAMP or a study lamp. Just be sure to go to the settings of your camera or camera phone to white-balance it for tungsten or fluorescent. And keep the camera steady to keep it still during the exposure.
If you use only one light source i.e. from one side only, then the tissue paper on the sides acts as a fill reflector around your cake. If you want to kill the reflection the darker side, stick a square of black poster board on the inside of that side, as well as the top.
THE RESULT (unedited)
And that’s it! Now just go and take your pictures and watermark them…or not? I hope you find this tutorial useful. It is really convenient to have one of these lightboxes around, so I hope you guys will give it a try.