Hello again! Regular readers may have noticed I haven’t updated my blog for a few days. I’ve had a short holiday – nothing fancy, just a few days in the Lake District – but I’m back now, batteries recharged, so here we go…
For this week’s Peek Of The Week I thought I’d show you how to make a lightbox as these really do improve photographs of our makes. Taking a photograph of a card, for example, in a lightbox guarantees an even spread of light and it also means your picture isn’t spoiled by having unwanted things in the background – you know the kind of thing, a radiator, or a plug socket for example. You can buy a professional lightbox for hundreds of pounds, or you can make one for a few pounds within an hour…
ITEMS YOU WILL NEED:
A large box (I used a box that contained twelve bottles of wine – you don’t have to drink all the contents first though!)
A sheet of A1 white card
A craft knife
A metre ruler
A marker pen
Red liner tape
A length of white muslin – enough to go round your large box
White spray paint
Several old newspapers
Two desk lamps – I bought cheap and cheerful ones from Argos and some supermarkets will stock them too.
Using your parcel tape, tape up the open flaps of the box. Then using your craft knife, make an incision halfway down the box lengthways on one side, then cut along the top and bottom until you’ve made a gatefold down one side of the box, like this:
This is the front of your lightbox.
Next, using your craft knife, cut out the sides of the box, leaving a ‘frame’ of about an inch or so along the edges, like this:
On a nice dry day, spread a few newspapers down in your garden and spray paint the whole thing white, inside and out. A few thin coats of paint are much better than one heavy spraying. (TIP: after spraying, if you want to take a photo of what you have done, be careful not to get white paint all over Hubby’s camera, like I did. It doesn’t do his blood pressure any good, and he’ll spend the next hour pulling a face, stomping around and muttering under his breath!)
Next, using your metre ruler, cut your sheet of white card to size. Don’t worry about the length of the card at this stage – you can always trim that back when the project is finished – for now you need to cut it so it will fit inside your lightbox width ways, like this:
Now cut your muslin to size so it’s the same width as your box, and when you’ve done that it will need a good ironing!
Next, after putting the red liner tape on the edges of the cloth, wrap it round the sides of the lightbox so it tightly covers the ‘frames’ you’ve cut into the box.
Now, using your craft knife, make a slit across the back of your lightbox at the top – then slide your white card into the box through this slit. When the card is in position and there’s only a couple of inches hanging out of the top of the box you can make a fold across the card that’s outside the box to keep it in place.
Congratulations, you’ve made a lightbox and saved yourself hundreds of pounds!
When you come to take a photo of your project using the lightbox, you can experiment with lighting and backgrounds. Take your desk lamps and place one each side of the lightbox so that the light from them shines through the side ‘frames’. The light is gently diffused by the cloth. (If you are wondering what the ‘flaps’ in the front of the box are for, they help stop any stray light from your desk lamps from entering into your camera lens).Experiment by changing the bulbs – for example, you could try using yellow bulbs or daylight bulbs. Experiment further by moving the desk lamps up and down, have them at different angles, or just use one… alternatively just use daylight. You can go further by replacing the white card with some samples of really subtle wallpaper from a DIY store.
But whatever light source you choose, and whatever background you choose, the great thing about a lightbox is your photos are instantly so much better. Take a look at these two photos I took – the first was taken using a piece of furniture as background, and the second was taken in the lightbox. You’ll notice with the second one that there is no distracting elements in the background and the viewer’s eyes are drawn towards the details of the card:
Smaller, more three dimensional projects photograph really well in the lightbox too, like this:
Just a couple more tips before I go; always make sure you switch off the flash from your camera. If there’s not much light, consider using a tripod. Also, you might find it impossible to not get the sides of the lightbox in your photograph. If that's the case, all you need to do is to upload your photo onto your computer and crop the picture so you end up with just the elements you want.