Project 001 – Create Your Own Lightbox

Project 001- Create your own light box.

I saw this pinned by another user and thought, interesting.  I don’t know what a light box is but lets go find out – so I pinned it and set off into cyberspace to read all about this.  The pin is to an article written by Kelly Yanke Deltener over on Examiner.com dated 19 July 2010 (The direct link:  http://www.examiner.com/article/create-your-own-lightbox-for-your-etsy-listings).

Her primary use for a light box, according to the article, is to take better pictures to sell items on Etsy.com.  Short, sweet, and to the point with 3 links to tutorials – I can do this.  Short article, how hard can this be, right?  The end product is a white box you take pictures in.

I went to the first one, very clear and concise using a cardboard box as a foundation.  This would require use of an exacto knife (very sharp!), cardboard, and with my klutziness I’m not too sure of the results.  The website is pretty informative and useful though, so Digital Photography School went into my future reference folder.  I decided to pass this one and go to the next.

The second one, was over on PhotoDoto, again sharp knife plus scissors, and poster board instead of cardboard…another pass.  I see flashes of accidents in the making here when combined with all my accident proneness.  What does door number three hold?

Door number three was a video embedded at the bottom of the original article by DizzyDoug.TV.  Clicked play and TheDavidBell.com show began.  A video narrated by a kid.  I can DEFINITELY do this.  Pinterest came through for me!
Let’s see what we got here.

Narration is clear, concise, and right along the same lines as I was thinking.
Way to Go David Bell!

First, the list of neccesary materials:
HomeDepot or Plumbing Store
2ea x 10ft 1/2″ PVC Pipe {cut into:  2ea@23″ – width, 4ea@14″ – height, 2ea@16″- depth}
4ea x 1/2″ PVC 3 way elbows
4ea x 1/2″ PVC Caps
2 Clamp Lights – Light bulbs (soft white)
Masking Tape
White Material from Fabric Store
1 piece White Poster Board from Dollar Store

Are the materials accurate?  For the most part, they are.  At my local HomeDepot, I discovered that 1each 10ft 1/2″ PVC Pipe and 1each 2ft 1/2″ PVC Pipe did the job with minimal scraps and a cost savings.  The HomeDepot employee kindly cut all my lengths for free (just as David noted in his video).  The elbows were a bit tricky, again as the video had stated.  The store in my town only carried those that had 2 slide in sides and 1 threaded side, so I had to purchase an additional adapter (4ea@1/2″ PVC Male Adapter).  Cost was minimal and added 1 1/2″ in height.  No biggie!

I also added 3each@ 1/2″ sheet metal screws.  Why you ask?  Instead of taping the poster board, I put 3 sheet metal screws spaced across the back piece, into the PVC that is considered the back piece.  This allows me to use a regular hole punch, punch in three holes at the edge of the poster board, and now it is easily interchangeable to use other colors without the fuss or mess of masking tape.  The poster board was 2 pieces for $1 at the Dollar store or 69cents.

The white material I had in my craft stash so didn’t have a cost associated with it.  You could use a white sheet, cheap white fabric shower curtain, or find a piece on the clearance rack at the fabric store or fabric section of a major chain store.

Here’s the initial materials.

Materials as stated in the chosen tutorial video plus the sheet metal screws (pk of 4ea)

Materials as stated in the chosen tutorial video plus the sheet metal screws (pk of 4ea)

The next photo here is showing the additional adapters I needed to purchase and the items pre-put together.

Items with additional adapters, and pre-put together

Items with additional adapters, and pre-put together

Putting this all together was very simple!  My 8yr old son told me how to do it – without instructions.

All the PVC put together and the three screws in the back piece

All the PVC put together and the three screws in the back piece

Now that your lightbox frame is together, put in your poster board.Line up your holes with the placement of the three screws so it sits evenly.

Put in  your poster board.  White is the color of the hour!

Put in your poster board. White is the color of the hour!

Next step is the material and the lights.  The lights are very easy to assemble.  Insert light bulbs and your done.
The material, just drape it over the frame and tuck it in.  I chose to use one strip of masking tape to tape the fabric across the front bar of the frame with the rest draped and folded to cover it.  I’m thinking of a better option that looks cleaner and more professional but for now, the draping works.  Here’s a photo of the completed light box.

Completed light box on desk

Completed light box on desk

Now the question that comes to mind for me, why do they call it a light box?  Well, here is why.

The light box in use

The light box in use

With the lights on, an item in the center, and someone taking a picture – it makes a cleaner, more professional photo.  AND the entire box is filled with light that is reflected from all the white surfaces to minimize shadows, allowing the photographer more control.

Conclusion:  This pinterest link was spot on, with useful and fairly accurate information.  Project was so easy, a kid could do it!
The total cost was $36.78 (not including the white material).  If you have the drop lights already, you can reduce your cost to $17.37 plus the cost of the white material.  Using the PVC instead of a cardboard box allows for a quick breakdown, item longevity, easy storage, and portability.  If you are looking for a light box, take a go at this project.  Pretty inexpensive and easy project for such a professional output!

Here’s an example photo on my iPhone and then taken with a digital camera in the light box.  Don’t hold my amateur photography skills against me <grin>.  Just notice the differences.

Photo on my iPhone

Photo taken in the light box.
Photo taken in the light box.

 

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