Light Box Ahoy
Posted on July 30th, 2009
Hi friends, I’ve got something fun to post today! As you may or may not know, a few months ago, my husband and I bought a fancy camera. I say fancy because well, I don’t know much about it. We’ve been slowly figuring it out-more so him than me- and I wanted to post about the thing that took my product pictures from average to pretty darn good. (in my humble opinion!) In fact, my product interest has made leaps and bounds in popularity since I’ve changed the way I take pictures.
The big secret is a light box. We were pretty set on buying one, so we looked all over, and couldn’t find anything under $100. That was way too expensive- so the next best crafty step, make one! I looked up some tutorials online, to see if anyone else had figured out a decent DIY, and sure enough someone had. (This site has been wonderful help- especially with the language of photography.) So, we followed the easy steps with the items mostly found in our home, made a couple of substitutions, and took some wonderful pictures. Today, I decided to build one a bit bigger, and I took pictures along the way, so you could see how it works. Have a look:
First, I gathered all of my supplies. One sizable cardboard box, a few sheets of tracing paper, an X-acto, a pair of scissors, and packing tape.
I cut windows in three sides of the cardboard box- top, left, and right. An X-acto or box cutter work best, but it can be done with scissors. Remember, it isn’t about how pretty the box is, it won’t show in your pictures.
Then, I cut tracing paper to size, and taped it over the windows. You can use tissue paper, sheer fabric, vellum, whatever semi-transparent supply you can get your hands on. I also used clear packing tape- any sturdy tap will do, just don’t let it cover too much of your window.
I reinforced my corners with a little tape.
Then, I taped the box down, and tacked a curved piece of drawing paper inside the box. This gives your images that infinity look. I’ve used poster-board, matboard, and fabric. They all work great, just don’t put too much force against the box. My favorite is a warm white piece of matboard. It gives my images a little bit of glow.
I stick a little desk lamp, and a work light on the sides of the box. Sometimes, I light from above. Just play with it so that the part of your product you want to emphasize (for me it’s impression) comes across.
When it comes down to it, letterpress is a little difficult to photograph well. It’s hard to capture the feeling you get when touching impressed, thick, soft paper. The conditions have to be perfect, low diffused light to give some shadow to the impression, and bokeh to soften the harshness of the image on a computer screen. Then comes the cropping and photo adjustments. I used to feel like this was cheating, but have embraced it whole-heartedly with a new understanding about cameras. Cameras do not see/capture exactly as the human eye/mind does. It seems so simple. When we see, we see in context, and have the freedom to focus on whatever element we choose. Now, after we have focused on something, when you think back to remember, do you see it exactly as it was, with everything exactly where it was? I don’t- some people do perhaps. I see with focus on whichever element, and then I allow my mind to blur out the non-essential data. So now, with this lesson, I try to make my images appear the way I see them- lovely, romantic and sentimental.