A home made lightbox

I must admit, i suck at DIY projects. Barely survived my secondary school workshop classes! It’s not that i don’t like banging together a few planks with nails, or putting a coat of pant on a wall. It’s just that it never comes out exactly the way i envision it in my head. And so it was when i decided to create my own lightbox (what a real lightbox is supposed to look like)

But i was determined, and i wouldn’t let me lack of a dexterity stop me. So i cobbled together a lightbox using an old cardboard box, a few strips of cotton to make the sides, and prodigious use of gaffer tape. 


The theory behind the light box is that it does a few things at the same time. By placing the flash outside the box shooting into box through the porous cloth (or you can use tracing paper), it diffuses the light so that i goes everywhere within the box. And by having the walls made out of white cloth (or paper), any light inside the box will bounce around the box, again adding to an even distribution of light inside the box. 

This works great for product shots, and in my case, macro photography for my cigars. The main problem i’ve had with macro shooting of cigars has been light hotspots on the cigar when exposed to a flash. That and a ton of shadows all over the place, just makes for a less than idea photograph. This limitation forces me to take creative liberties with the shot itself such as the one below (shot a few weeks ago).


It’s not a bad photograph, but it doesn’t do much about saying anything really moving about the cigar. There isn’t much cigar to begin with in the frame! Ditto with this next photo.


At the time when i took the shots, i didn’t think they were half bad. In a way, ignorance is bliss. Haha.

After putting the lightbox together, it was time to test it. So i popped the cigars right in, and then manually metered the amount of light required, and took a few test snaps. The initial shots weren’t very good, either too much light, or too little, or burnt out selected hotspots. Using a combination of techniques, stopping down further and/or slowing the shutter speed by a pinch and/or going down or up a third of a stop of light on the flash, then allowed me to start getting some pretty lovely results.

In the months to come, i’ll probably think these are crap too, but for now, i’m happy. There is a definite mood and presence about the cigar now, appropriate considering the mystique that surrounds Cuban cigars. Stopped down, the shadows, instead of being restrictive in the earlier photos seen above, have become complimentary to the frame. 

What do you think?




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