Box Building #3: Photography Light Box

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Blog entry by Kent Shepherd posted 08-12-2011 05:22 PM 3360 reads 8 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: New Website Part 3 of Box Building series Part 4: Light Box Tweak »

I posted one of my boxes earlier in the week and promised I would blog my light box.
If you have researched this you will know I obviously did not come up with this idea. In fact, I think there are others on Ljs. This is simply my version. I am a woodworker, not a photographer, so take all this with a grain of salt. As I develop the box further, I will add to the blog. I have not done anything yet I didn’t tweak over time, so why change now, huh! It’s called design evolution, not fixing screw-ups.

The box is pretty simple. I used 3/4” plywood for the bottom, 1/4” ply for the back, and scrap poplar for the side frames. anything you have will work. I have even seen them out of cardboard boxes with the sides cut out.

I forgot to measure mine, but the size is determined my what you plan on photographing. I will primarily do boxes. I painted mine black because—-well just because. If you know me, you know I don’t do simple. And of course I apologize—there is no exotic hardwood on this.

The white fabric is to diffuse the light so there is not a harsh glare. Notice I have mounted the first layer and folded it so the second layer remains loose. I am able to control the light this way by folding out the top layer over the first when needed. I happen to find these lights at Lowes, but you may use what is available. Small wattage seems better, but you could also use a dimmer, which I may add later. There are obviously different ways to control the light. With different brackets, you can set the lights where you need them for the different projects you might have. You have to experiment with each project. I like the power strip mounted on the back of the box. I can turn all the lights on and off at once, or use individual switches on the lights themselves. I used blck felt to line the inside. It is mounted with vecro. I have other colors that can easily be changed as needed.

If you have questions, feel free to ask. I probably won’t know, but I can make something up.


12 comments so far

View SgtSnafu's profile


960 posts in 3297 days

#1 posted 08-12-2011 05:33 PM

I have been thinking of building one of these, yours turned out very well.

Thanks for sharing..

-- Scotty - aka... SgtSnafu - Randleman NC

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3674 days

#2 posted 08-12-2011 05:34 PM

nicely done Kent, the black background gives it a warmer tone and a pristine look (albeit less light).

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4426 days

#3 posted 08-12-2011 06:27 PM

Kent: Does it fold up for storage.

Are the small spots Halogen lights?

Very nice job on the design.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10123 posts in 4078 days

#4 posted 08-12-2011 06:29 PM

Nice job, Kent!

That looks like a good thing to do… to remove sharp shadows, etc.

I guess, if you wanted to, you could drape another colored fabric down the back, onto the bottom toward the front.

Did you use Sheet material for the white fabric?

Thank you…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3421 days

#5 posted 08-12-2011 06:51 PM

Please don’t overlook the value of some sharp reflections (called speculars) to make the whole thing sparkle.
The tent gives nice, smooth overall lighting, but cross lighting and bright speculars will make it sing.

To get the cross lighting, which emphasizes the shape, make one of the tent lamps, preferably on one side or the other, twice as strong as the other lights. This will be your main, the other ones the fill lights.

A small point source near the camera and not shining through the tent will give the sparkly speculars.

Not to be overlooked, too, are backlights. Down low and behind the subject, they give sharp definition to the outline. Usually only one backlight.

Try it, you’ll like it!

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2719 days

#6 posted 08-12-2011 06:56 PM

I’m too busy catching little glimpses of all those home-brewed shop fixtures in the background!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3312 days

#7 posted 08-12-2011 07:43 PM

Sharon, I edited the information. I also have other colors of fabric. They attach with velcro.

Karson, Mine does not fold up. I though about it, but I have a big shop so I wasn’t worried about space. I plan on needing it enough to leave it set up. The lights are not halogen, but they would work.

Joe, It is not sheet material, but that would work. It is fun to go to the fabric alone. All the women looked shocked when they hear you are buying it for your own projects. If we treat women like this, they call it sexist. (Not you—nice ladies on Ljs)

Don, I’m still playing with the lighting for best results—Thanks.

Al, You can see all those jigs in my projects. There is also a slide show of my shop—I think it is in a blog.


View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 3522 days

#8 posted 08-12-2011 08:02 PM

This is very nice Kent, one of those projects I keep telling myself ” I need to do”..... you have re-kindled the thought so now, maybe it will even get done!

I love your line: ” Design evolution”..... I need to remember that as I use that concept quite often LOL

I will be checking Lowes for these light, do you remember what they are called?

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3312 days

#9 posted 08-12-2011 08:25 PM

Gene, I don’t know what they were called—Sorry (Little lights maybe???)


View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3334 days

#10 posted 08-12-2011 09:15 PM

Grear setup Kent. Some great design ideas…
I have one of those foldable 30” photo cubes I have been using but it definitely needs improvement (replacement). It is convenient when I want to carry it outside to get natural light pictures but that is about the oly good feature it has. I recently bought some thick poster board at a art shop. It comes in a multitude of colors and I am planning on building a foldable plywood box that I can place the poster board in it for different background colors. One negative about the oster board I just relized is that I would not be able to shine and diffuse a light through it as would be possible with cloth.

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3380 days

#11 posted 08-13-2011 07:28 AM

Just what I need… can I build one big enough to house the Torque..??
seriously though this is cool and really a must for taking half way decent pics…
Thanks for sharing…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3698 days

#12 posted 08-15-2011 02:18 PM

Nice work, Kent.

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