One of the most frequently asked questions that I get is “how do you take such nice pictures?”…and there’s really a few answers to that question. First, I do have a very nice (and very expensive) camera & lens. I take my photos with a Nikon D7000 DSLR camera and 99% of the time with a 60mm macro lens. The other 1% of the time (mainly for large objects) as well as for filming, I use an 18-105mm kit lens. The other thing, is that I use a homemade lightbox to take my photos in. I was tired of relying on natural sunlight, especially in the winter, so I needed something that would allow me to take photos anytime and have great lighting. The third is that I do a LOT of post-editing on the computer to make sure all the colours, contrast, levels & white balance are accurate. My photos do NOT look as good coming off the memory card as they do going onto the blog, the lightbox won’t create perfect photos- but it will allow you a way to take photos at your convenience.
I can’t take credit for this lightbox, as it really was Pascale and her boyfriend (both of them professional photographers) who built it for me. But I have gotten SO many requests to show how you guys can build one too, whether you’ve been blogging for a while or thinking of starting. So I took apart mine and re-built it… I’m planning on building another one as this one is getting quite old and beaten up, and if I do, I’ll be sure to film a how-to video from start to finish. However, hopefully this will do for now. The best part? It only costs about $80!
Step 1. Gather Your Materials
You Will Need
- An open space with access to an outlet
- A desk or table (the smallest I would recommend is the IKEA LACK side table)
- 5 pieces of foam core (I chose 25″x25″)
- Two mini clip-on desk lamps, each with a neutral 40W Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb (CF lightbulbs are the best because they give off as much light as a 100W, but only use 40W so you can use them in cheaper lamps- I got the lamps from Staples and the lights from Home Depot). Make sure the lightbulbs are neutral color, not blue or yellow. This will affect the colours in your photos!
- A roll of plain white paper, about 1″ shorter in width than the length of your foam core (I use 25″ foam core with 24″ paper roll)- these can be found at art supply stores
- A few heavy duty paper clips
- Tape and scissors (note: I highly recommend using whiteducttape, as my lightbox was first constructed with it however I don’t have any so for this demonstration I’m just using clear packing tape).
Step 2. Construct The Box
Duct tape three pieces of foam core together at right angles.
Score the 4th piece of foam core in the middle, and reinforce the flap with duct tape. Then attach it to the remaining side making sure to leave the flap free to move.
Adhere the 5th piece of foam core to the top, again making sure to leave the flap free.
Place the lightbox on the desk or table with the open side facing yourself and the flap facing the back
Step 3. Create An Infinity Background
An infinity background is a fancy way to say a long piece of paper with no visible creases or folds. Place the paper roll inside the box and clip the free end to the top of the lightbox (where the flap lays). You should be able to close the free flap to prevent light from escaping.
This is how the secured paper should look from the inside of the lightbox.
Pull the paper and leave a good amount hanging off the end…it’s better to have too much paper then not enough. Pull the paper slightly until you have an even curve from the paper clips down to the front of the box.
Trim the paper, or fold it under the lightbox and secure it. When the paper gets dirty (which it eventually will- especially if you are photographing makeup), just take out the paper and replace it with a fresh sheet).
Step 4. Add The Lights
Add the two desk lamps to hold the box to the table. Angle the lamps towards the sides of the box (you don’t want to aim them inside because this will create shadows on your objects. The box is designed to encapsulate the light like a room on a sunny day)
Plug in the lamps and turn them on. Ta da!
Coming up next? How to work with manual settings on a DSLR to improve your photos and how to get the most out of post-editing on the computer. Stay tuned and I hope this helps you out!