So…I Bought a Lightbox

Some things look far easier to accomplish than they are.  I learned this lesson again when trying to capture images of gear to use for user experience reports.  Often, I would set up a spot to shoot and find that window light didn’t work—too much reflection, too dim, wrong angle, wrong color. I never counted on so many variables for what I considered a simple task.

Realizing that window light, though lovely, is often iffy, like on rainy or cloudy days, I went to continuous lights with LED bulbs. It took only one shoot to discover all were too dim to use without a tripod, and it was a pain to move everything around so the tripod could fit. Having made peace with tripod issues, I had to deal with shadows and reflectors. Getting the reflectors to stay in place without extra equipment was nearly impossible—the worst session lasted close to two hours, and I still had no images I liked. I thought shooting still life images would be easy and shooting gear even easier still. Nope. Knowing that I could not nor would not spend hours trying to get just a few shots, I went looking for a better solution.

Folded box with four colored inserts: black, gray, white and tan

Until I began searching, I had no idea what a lightbox was. I had invested in enough lighting to allow for basic still-life practice shots, but in no way was I ready to buy pro-level equipment. (This was supposed to be just a hobby.) Looking on Google for photography lights, I came across a DIY Photography post with instructions for building a lightbox. While the project looked interesting, there was no way I was going to gather all the pieces and create one. However, I did learn what to search for on Amazon. There are all kinds of light boxes available. Based on my needs, I settled on a 20 x 20 setup with vertical access and four backgrounds.

Using the lightbox has been a dream. Gear images now take only 10-15 minutes. As a bonus, I’ve found additional uses. It is now much easier to check the effects of different color backgrounds on compositions or test camera meters using grey cards. And, I especially like using it to test lens sharpness and distortions.

This model folds almost completely flat, which makes it easier to carry and store. But it is also sturdy enough when assembled to sit things on for brief periods. Since it folds and the panels are flexible, I can use it without the built-in light to experiment with low-key close-up shots that require black backgrounds. Overall, I would say this has been an excellent investment! Life is sweet!!!!


    1. Author

      It arrived a few days ago, and I haven’t had a chance to try it out.

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