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Off-Topic: How to Make a Cheap Lightbox and a Lighting System for it at Home

Off-Topic: How to Make a Cheap Lightbox and a Lighting System for it at HomeI sometimes write off-topic posts, but this time it’s even a useful one :) I’m going to tell how to make a cheap lightbox at home, along with lighting system and stuff. Me and my husband are working together on a website project that requires shooting the client’s glass stuff for a catalogue, and we have no professional equipment or the money to buy one, so we built an affordable lightbox and the lights for it right at home. Yes, this post is not exactly related to games, but i wanted to share it with my twitter friends and i don’t have other blogs written on English, so… if you’re not interested, just pass on this post :)

What we used:

For the lightbox itself -
A big cardboard box (a leftover from laser Canon printer/scanner), a roll of tracing paper, two pieces of whatman paper, a big stapler (we used the cheapest model available), a pen, a paper knife and some scotch tape.

For the lighting system -
Two cheap office lamps (with long corbels that could be adjusted in space and also with a fasteners to fix the lamps on the edge of a table), several energy-saving bulbs and a corresponding amount of lamp bases, a few meters of electric cable, a pack of double-row screw terminals, a plastic container (to isolate the terminals), an electric plug with switch and insulating tape.

We also used a stool and a piece of an old IKEA table to assemble things on it, so it won’t clutter up one a working or dining table.

How to make a lightbox
Off-Topic: How to Make a Cheap Lightbox and a Lighting System for it at HomeTo build a lightbox i took the cardboard box and cut out all of its sides, leaving the same amount of space on each side to fix the paper on it. The box then turns into a skeletal construction. Then i cut tracing paper to cover two opposite sides of the box – to the left and to the right from the center hole. The paper was then fastened with the stapler so that no light would get into the gaps between it and the box. The last step was to put a big piece of whatman paper so that it would cover the back side of the box and its “floor” side.

 

Off-Topic: How to Make a Cheap Lightbox and a Lighting System for it at HomeOff-Topic: How to Make a Cheap Lightbox and a Lighting System for it at Home
Note that the paper is not fastened to a corner between those two sides, so it wouldn’t create an unnecessary shadow. Also, to the left and to the right of the whatman sheet there are two pieces of paper to cover inner sides of the box structure, so they won’t create shadows too. Those sides of the box that were made of two pieces rather than one (where the box was supposed to open) are connected together with scotch tape to make them stronger.

Off-Topic: How to Make a Cheap Lightbox and a Lighting System for it at Home

Off-Topic: How to Make a Cheap Lightbox and a Lighting System for it at Home The lightbox is practically ready. You should then have a box with two sides (left and right) covered with tracing paper, two sides (back and bottom) – with whatman paper, and two last sides (front and top) are completely free. As an afterthought i think we should also have fixed a piece of cardboard under the whatman layer because it crumbs a little when a weight is put on it. But the box works just fine “as is” if i put a piece of leftover cardboard under the whatman where the item I’m going to shoot will be placed.

How to make a lighting system for the lightbox
That was a lot more complicated and my husband built it, not me. But i observed! :) He designed the system so we have two stationary lamps that could be positioned in the air, and also a third lamp that could be put from up down as long as someone holds it (if we had to station the lamp it would be noticeable behind the box and appear on photos).

So, he measured 4 pieces of electric cable – 3 for the lamps and 1 for the plug. Then double-row screw terminals were used to connect each corresponding cable to a lamp base or to an electric plug.

Off-Topic: How to Make a Cheap Lightbox and a Lighting System for it at Home

They were also connected between each other with more double-row screw terminals – 3 cables were connected to the one leading to the plug. A small plastic container was used to enclose and isolate that 4-way connection (the cables were inserted first, then connected to the terminals). All other connections were sealed with insulating tape.Off-Topic: How to Make a Cheap Lightbox and a Lighting System for it at Home

2 of the 3 lamp bases were attached to lamps with insulating tape – the original bulbs were removed and their bases weren’t used because we took some cheap lamps supporting only weak bulbs. The lams are attached to a table top to the sides of the lightbox.

Off-Topic: How to Make a Cheap Lightbox and a Lighting System for it at Home

And this is what we got in the end:

Off-Topic: How to Make a Cheap Lightbox and a Lighting System for it at Home

The most expensive parts were light bulbs and lamps, also getting the right box could be hard if you aren’t into hoarding them, but we were lucky :))) Overall it was very easy to make and not expensive at all (especially comparing to professional lightboxes!). Also, that piece of IKEA table i didn’t threw out finally found a new life! :) And if we want the light to be softer, i just put another layer of tracing paper above the box and between the sides of it and the lamps (it also keeps dust off the insides), and the big box ensure that a lot of stuff will fit in.

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