Have you noticed how GREAT the photos are on my blog now? What? You haven’t? Oh my goodness…please stop right now, go to the archives on the right hand side and look at blog posts from a month ago or so. I’ll wait…
Back so soon? Did you check out the most recent project posts like my Butterfly Beauty or Another card for the cause? Quite a difference eh? Sorry, I lied! I am not going to tell you how to get such GREAT photos for $2 or less….oh ok since I know you’re thinking pretty please with sugar on top right (I can see you smiling and nodding hee hee).
I’ve decided that everyone has to be the king or queen of something. My middle daughter is the queen of random annoying noises, my youngest daughter is queen of service, my son is king of the castle (in his own mind), and my oldest daughter is an admitted drama queen. If you’re a Facebook buddy you MIGHT think I’m the queen of paper but alas I am not. Instead, I just might be the queen of DIY. I will DIM (do it myself) on anything I can pretty much…ESPECIALLY crafting stuff. I have DIY Glimmer Mist, I have DIY glue dots, I have a DIY peg bow board (that is hideously ugly but completely functional), I have DIY liquid pearls, and NOW I bring you…the DIY light box:
Photography shops everywhere sell these fancy pancy things called light tents that range in price from $15 to more than $100. I did the SAME thing for about $2 combining some various tips I learned on the Internet (Dear Internet inventor…I ♥ you SEVERE). I am so happy with how my photos come out now (after some very MINOR editing in Photoshop to correct my yellow lights) versus pre-light box photography that I am now of the opinion EVERY serious crafter needs a light box of their own. Here’s how to make one of your own….Supplies Needed For Creation: 1 box of your choice (mine is about yay big…do you see my arms stretched out) Parchment Paper Tape (I used duct tape) Poster Paper (cut to the width of your box…I got mine at the $1 Store) Box Knife (your Xacto knife MIGHT work) Ruler Marker/Pen ATG (or other double stick tape) 30 minutes or less Supplies Needed For Use: 3 lamps with DAYLIGHT bulbs (this is REALLY important if you don’t have good photo editing software) Camera* Tri-pod/Steady Hand *It is helpful if your camera allows you white balance/macro controls and it needs to also have a no flash option.
Now…how to do it right? Ok…decide which way you want to orient your box. If it has “flaps” on the open side, cut them off using your box knife. If the “bottom” is not sealed or taped, seal or tape it. Then take your ruler and pen and draw a square “window” to cut out. Be sure you are leaving at least 2 inches from each side of the box (lucky you I made my own so I can tell you what not to do…DO NOT make it any smaller than a 2 inch margin…you might want three if your box is big enough) for support. Do this to all three sides (the back of your box should be what would normally be the bottom) of your box. Don’t worry if your cuts aren’t perfectly straight or totally even on each side…that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
Ok so now you got a box with one entirely open edge and three cut out windows right….take your parchment paper and pull off a long enough piece to cover all three sides and overlap the bottom a bit. Using your duct tape, adhere parchment paper to the box. Next cut your poster board the width of your box but leave it as long as it comes. On mine, I only cut off about 6 inches of the poster paper from the longest side…you want your poster paper to be longer than your box so that it bows…this is what creates a seamless background. You can use white or black or green or yellow or…PURPLE my favorite! It’s entirely up to you. I got white and black, but thus far have only shot against a white background.
Ok…now…run your ATG across the width of one edge of your poster board and adhere it to the inside of your box. Pull the end out so that it bows in the box. If you have it tucked in tight, you’ll end up with a line in your background. Once you’ve completed this step give yourself a pat on the back cuz you’re done!!!!
To use your light box, place your lamps with DAYLIGHT bulbs (any lamp will do you just want DAYLIGHT bulbs) where the blue arrows point in the photograph above. I got $4 lamps at Ikea and they work great EXCEPT the light is yellow…I can fix that with a mouse click in Photoshop, but if you have DAYLIGHT bulbs in your lamps, this step will likely not be necessary. Ok…now you can set your card or page or bracelet or necklace or whatever inside your box alone or you can put it on/hang it off whatever you want. I have a lil mini-easel and a floral frog I use in mine. I like the floral frog MUCH better and got mine at Joann’s for $4 (it’s in the floral department).
Now we move on to how to actually shoot the picture. No I don’t mean go grab your nine and favorite ammo…I mean how to take a good picture using your DIY light box. If you have a steady hand, you can take the picture yourself (which is what I do most of the time)…otherwise you may want to use a tripod. Put your camera on your favorite setting that allows you to control the white balance and or macros (turn both up a notch or two…this will be different for every camera) and mount on tripod if needed. Make sure your flash is off, zoom in if you need to, turn on your lamps, and click away. When composing a photo, I like to leave negative space all around the image top and bottom so I can crop it in Photoshop.
I hope this helps you start taking pictures more amazing than ever before, if you have questions, please let me know. Oh wait I almost forgot…if you don’t have parchment paper in your kitchen, check your scappy stash and see if you have vellum…your “window coverings” shouldn’t be any thicker than vellum. You are using them as a filter to soften the light just a little so whatever you use to cover your “windows” can’t block out much light. Freezer paper is too thick, but my parchment paper is working wonderfully!
Get creative…try different colors of poster board for your backgrounds or maybe fabric or even some faux fur (be kind to animals). Whatever you place in the box will be your background and the sky’s the limit really since you don’t have to worry about anything reflecting back with a flash. I would love to feature your first light box photographed projects here at Faithfule Creations so if you use my steps to make your own light box and like your result, please share it with me!