How to make a lightbox lighting solution for under $20.
I have a client who produces wine vinegars and other products in bottles. I have taken photos for them for a few years now and used the conventional methods which typically include using a lightbox of some sort. I have had decent results with lightboxes in the past. My previous box was still in good condition but I wanted to use some of the larger lighting I have so I could spread light out a bit more. Besides that, the lightbox I have is not very large and would not be good for product groups.
I had this idea in my head that I have been wanting to try out for a while. Whenever I saw a sign on a building I always thought that white lexan would make for an excellent light modifier. Signs always seem to have even light coming out of them, so in theory I figured it would work. I imagined bending it into a half circle and then I would shoot light into it. I have never been a fan of the way that a lightbox makes products look. Since you have essentially the same amount of light coming at your object from all angles, there was never much dimension to the product. It always looked flat. Of course with the right amount of post production in Photoshop, you could add dimension but I don’t like spending all day in Photoshop working on bottle shots.
Knowing that I needed to get these bottle shots done soon, I went down to Homedepot to see what they had. Unfortunately they did not have any white lexan. They only carry clear. However, they did have white corrugate, which was significantly cheaper. I was expecting to spend about $80 for a sheet of lexan only to bend it and drill holes in it. I was glad to have found the corrugate to try initially instead.
So here is the breakdown of how I did this. I have placed the photos in order below.
Here is what I bought:
1 72″x36″ White 4mm Corrugated Plastic Sheet – $11.78
2 36″x5/16-18 Threaded Rod Zinc – $3.25 each
8 5/16″ Hex Nuts – $.10 each
8 5/16″ Fender Washer Zinc – $.20 each
Here is what you need and may already have in your garage:
2 adjustable claps or “C” clamps
I took the sheet of white corrugate and drilled some 5/16″ holes in it for the threaded rod to go through. On one end of the corrugate I drilled the holes close to the edges, on the other end of the sheet I drilled the holes about 16 1/2″ up. I did this so that there would be more of a platform before the corrugate started it’s incline behind the area where the product would sit.
I ran the threaded rod through the holes, one on each side and put nuts and fender washers to hold it from sliding. I used fender washers because I knew the corrugate sheet was not made of very tough material and I didn’t want the nuts to pull their way through. In the photos below you can see how it looks.
Depending on the height you need, you could bend the corrugate more to add depth to your product platform.
The corrugate is not a very rigid material, so over time it is going to start to warp and it won’t be a very stable platform for your product. For a one time shoot or a couple of shoots it will be just fine. I am pretty sure I will get a good month or so use out of it and if I really wanted it to last I would just take the threaded rods out and let the corrugate lay flat again.
To hold it upright on my table I used some adjustable “C” clamps to hold it in place. Just 2 of them worked fine. I already had adjustable clamps in my toolbox at home. If I really wanted to make this a permanent fixture I could have drilled holes into my table and ran the threaded rod through the table. This would make for the most stable option. In this case, I did not want to drill through my table. I wanted something I could easily take apart. Of course, this is not as easy to take down as a collapsible lightbox which is made to be a simple solution, but if you have a few hundred dollars to get a good lightbox, go right ahead.
For lighting I was using 2 Spiderlights in softboxes that I use for other photography and video however the test product photos you see below were taken with nothing other than the rooms ambiant lighting. If you don’t have any money for lighting, take it outside and let the sun light shine through the corrugated plastic. That should make for nice lighting.
Here are two of the final shots I was able to get with this setup. These shots were taken with my Canon 5D Mark III with the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II USM lens.
Below are the photos I took of the process including a few shots of my final setup with my other camera. You should be able to figure out how to make this just by looking at the pictures. It’s not hard at all. The photos below were taken with a Canon T4i with the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens.
This solution would also be fantastic for those of you who are selling products on Etsy and want a easy/inexpensive solution for taking pro quality photos of your hand made products.
Thanks for checking out this post. I hope it helps you with your product photography. Of course this is not the best looking option but it sure beats what I have seen others making when I searched around on Google.
If you like this DIY post, I would love for you to share it or Pin it to your Pinterest board.