Last month I showed how to make a simple light box with a cardboard box.  Here is another example, made from manila file folders.

A light tent can be purchased, but of course I prefer to just make my own.  Here I started with 2 discarded manila folders taped together so that they would stand as shown.  The extras are lying in front of them but only two were used for the main frame.

Folders are not terribly strong so you may want to use a thicker cardboard if you will be using it a great deal. Foam core works well, is inexpensive, comes in white and can be cut down to size.

In order to cut down on the yellow color coming through I covered the surface with 11” x 17” white printer paper by folding it over and taping it to the back.

Next a large piece of white fabric was laid down and over the top edge, press out wrinkles as you do.  I put a cloths pin on the top edge to keep it from dropping down, then folded it back over itself to drape over the top. I have seen folks use white trash bags, paper, tissue paper or whatever was available to get the desired effect.

I set up the tripod as shown in the camera testing example and then draped the material over the top of the camera.  This created a ‘white container’ to take the images inside.

After taking a few shots similar to the previous test, the image below was determined to have the correct setting at ISO 80, Macro setting, -1 flash.

Not bad, but I would like to get rid of the grayness of the white fabric.

 To do this I need to play with the exposure index.  After trying out -2 through +2 test shots this is the end result. I have to say that I like the change in the second photograph.

  

Continuing to experiment and see what works.

 

 

Just for comparison the image above was shot with Macro, -2 exposure, -.75 flash and a view of the image in black and white

  In my opinion the diffused light from lamp, on black, and same settings as above makes it appear much more three dimensional when compared to the other example. But I found some people preferred the images taken in the light tent and found it ‘softer’.

 

   

Hand blown glass paperweight shot in light tent compared to taken with flash on white background (paper towel)

Of course with some tweaking I am sure one could get much better shots here!

Note: This tutorial was originally published on my old website. At the time I was sculpting small figures from polymer clay and needed a set-up for taking photos of smaller items.

Start with an sturdy empty cardboard box, small enough to not take up a lot of space. The one we are using here is approx 12″ x 12″ X 12″ when closed. Tape the lower three flaps together at the ends so they are stable.

Drape the fabric of choice inside of the box, loosely lining it.

Tape the upper flap back onto the box with a strong tape. Either roll up and use double faced tape to attach your backdrop cloth to the top of the box. Attach about where the upper half of the fabric naturally would lay. If this is unclear see images.

Attach the fabric to the bottom flap that is laying flat. It will help to keep it from shifting. Here I used a rolled up strip of strong shipping tape for the job. With your hands, press out folds or wrinkles that interfere with the right effect for you images.

I preferred a very flat tight backdrop to the item being shot. So a piece of paper was taped into place inside of the box. This way only the smooth white surface of the paper showed and not the weave of the fabric.If I had only put in a sheet of paper the brown of the box would have not been totally wiped away and the darkness would have not created the look I wanted. Another option is to paint the inside of the box entirely white with a flat paint.

This approximates what the camera will see. The item is encased in white with the light diffused from the upper right hand side.

Because of the position of the set up I chose to not use a tripod. But instead set the camera up on a box for stability. A light, with a Reveal bulb was placed over head to diffuse through the fabric. It was placed closer when shots were taken than shown here. Imagine it placed right over the right hand side of the box, rather than in the upper right hand corner of the shot shown. Here you can see how the fabric is draped from the outside.

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