Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Handmade Photography Light Box

With the help of my husband, I now have a handmade light box designed for shooting jewelry.  Since there are tons of tutorials on the internet for doing this, I combined a couple that I liked to get mine. I thought I would share the" how to" aspect of it. It doesn't cost much, either.

Here is what was used for this one:
plastic box clear or frosted-(size of your choosing)
tri-fold display board-like the kids use for Science fairs (got mine at Walmart for less than $4-it's an Elmer's brand)
sheet of poster board
3/16" eye bolts, nuts and washers-this one has 6 (home supply-about .30 ea.)
White Rustoleum paint (if you aren't in the US, that's a spray paint specifically for metal)
2 clamp on lights with daylight or full spectrum light bulbs
chisel or other flat object for opening eyes in eye bolts

Here are shots of the eye bolts before opening and after. Open them however much you think you need to so your necklaces/bracelets will fit on them. Before you start the other stuff, go ahead and get a coat of paint on them, so it can be drying. You will probably ding the metal in the eye bolts when you open them, but that's ok-the paint should cover it. Give them two or three coats. You don't need to paint the threads of the eye bolts.

Here's the plastic box with the tri fold mat under it.

Find the center of the side and mark it. Measuring out from, decide how far apart you want the eye bolts to be. From the center, this one is 1 1/2" on each side for a space that's 3" wide. The holes next to it are 2" from the neighboring hole. Drill those out. There is also a hole centered in the end of the box for the really long necklaces that I make sometimes. Here's a picture of the drilled holes

In order to get the light to reflect, you need to cut the tri fold board down somewhat, so it forms a three sided cover for the plastic box. Just measure and cut according to the size of the plastic box you are using. The top of this one folds over to the edge of the plastic box and the sides come out to the edges. This plastic box has a rim along the top, so when the box is turned sideways, the edges of the tri fold board will catch and hold in the rim.
Now, it's time to add the lights.

Since I was trying to do this on a budget of little to nothing, I only bought one work light-the silver reflector one.  I already had the gooseneck light. Besides, the store only had one of the reflector lights left.
Here is the shot of two of the hooks attached to the top of the box. I moved the piece of poster board down so you could see the white part of the hooks. After you get the eye bolts through the plastic, it's important to use the washers between the plastic box and the nuts. It will help keep the nuts more secure than the would be against just the plastic.

The poster board was cut to fit the inside of the box, also. It has a small portion that overhangs the edge of the box. It was getting humid, hot and very overcast when I got done taking these pictures, so I just hurried and snapped a necklace shot to show how it works. One of the advantages, for me, of a light box like this is that when I am finished, the hooks and lights and any props I use, will store inside the box and the tri fold board and poster board will store flat underneath it.

I should have taken more time to set up the lights and get my tripod, but this will give you a general idea of how it works.
The overall cost of this was probably less than $12. I already had the plastic box, one light, the light bulbs, the washers and the Rustoleum. The tri fold board was about $5, the poster board maybe $1, the reflector light $5, and the eye bolts .60. Even if you started from scratchand bought everything, you could probbly do it for about $20.00.

1 comment:

Leilani said...

Nice job!! I used to have a homemade light box too...last year I found a real light tent in a camera store for $30 so I've upgraded to that as it folds nicely for when I am not using it. But I found my homemade one was just as effective. Enjoy the possibilities!