Pennytech: Simple Lightbox

Snapping product photos for eBay or Facebook Marketplace just got a whole lot easier! Using this simple lightbox you can shoot on a blank “infinite” background to emphasize the item, instead of your surroundings.

There are scores of photo light tents or studio boxes available on Amazon or eBay. Most are a folding box made of translucent plastic or a frame with white cloth. But for photographing smaller items it’s very easy to make one yourself using items you may already have sitting around the house. Here’s one I made in about 5 minutes…

Transform your kitchen counter into a photo studio!

The objective is to provide uniform lighting, while hiding or obscuring your surroundings with a plain background. The curved white “psyche” is usually the preferred look as it makes the item appear to be floating in space. Just for fun I snapped a photo of a vintage GE light meter (seemed appropriate given the topic). Here’s what my first test shot looked like:

Not bad for a first try. There are some shadows, and a slight highlight is visible across the top of the light meter. The results can easily be improved with a little repositioning.

Here’s what I used:

The storage bin should be translucent white. But clear is also acceptable (and easier to find). The Asoka LED lamp I used is magnetic and supplied with mounting bits that are perfect for this project. The poster board will be your background. Usually you’ll want white, but colors can be useful if you need to shoot clear glass or reflective items.

First, affix the metal dots to the magnetic Asoka lamp. Then peel off the adhesive backing and stick the lamp to the inside of the storage box about 4 inches from the top. This photo shows the relative position…

Now trim a piece of poster board to 18 inches wide. Insert the poster board into the box placing the top edge against the metal dots you just installed. Slowly feed the poster board into the box so it makes a gentle curve covering from one side, across the bottom and up the opposite of the box.

Next, find one of the plastic cable stays provided with the LED light. Use this clip to retain the bottom of the poster board. Position it so it applies light pressure against the poster board (you don’t want it to cause creases), then peel off the adhesive backing and stick it down.

Presto! That’s all there is to it. Plug in the light and you’re ready to start taking pictures.

Since the LED lamp uses a USB power source this setup is extremely portable. It’s easy to add extra features— try adding a couple of extra lights on the sides for taller items or if your they cast shadows. Or cut a hole in the lid to shoot chrome items so you don’t see your reflection. Or try shooting outside with the addition of ambient light. While this LED light is adjustable, it can also be helpful to hang a cloth under it to diffuse the light.

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