Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tutorial Tuesday: DIY Light Boxes

When I sat down to write today's Tutorial Tuesday, two things happened.  1) I had no idea what to write but I managed to figure something out.  2) Blogger conspired with IE and ate my post.  In any case, I figured I'd better get off my duff and re-write this thang just so I can move those creepy Asian guys further down the page and further out of our memory.  I do believe I've managed to gross myself out.  Ugh.

Lets talk about some macro photography rather than dudes in suspender mankinis and their bulging whonngs.

I've mentioned before that I think macro photography is a bitch to deal with.  It complicated to learn,the equipment is expensive if you don't own it already and it takes more time than you think it will even if you are fully prepared.  All in all, a real pain in the dick.  And because of this, most people can't be bothered to mess with it.

But for those of us who do take the path of masochism, macro photography often presents even more problems beyond equipment and instruction.  There's always the practice with its endless back and forth between camera & computer... and then there's the lighting issue.  In my experience (both with my own efforts and just browsing any P&M forum), lighting is the thing that is the most difficult to nail down.  Lighting is also the thing that's most likely to ruin your picture.  There's only so much you can do with Picassa and a desk lamp.

Enter the light box.  Its a kind of tool that solves your lighting issues and cures cancer all at the same time.  Brent "Best of the Worst" Crihfield has a pretty good intro to the light box.  He can also suggest a good one to get.  Unfortunately, like everything else in model painting, the rule of "cheap, fast and good - pick two" applies.  Brent's solution will cost you some scratch.  While its not a lot in the big scheme of camera equipment, its still more than many people are willing to pay for such a specialized and potentially rare-use tool.

Luckily for us, Brent's writing style attracts good comments like Michael Cera attracts movie roles that have him playing an akward but lovable man-child.  K.Blas to the rescue with a whole slew of light box options that aim to make sure 'cheap' is one of your two choices.

 - K.Blas' totally cool foil/coffee filter Hybrid light box

 - Corvus' Miniatures' totally cool pure foil light box

 - Some post from a forum about a lightbox made from stretch frames and kinda feels like Martha Stewart had something to do with it.

Unfortunately, I can't vouch for any of these as I haven't tried them.  Yet.  Though I'm totally gonna try and make a foil box in the near future.  Hopefully that will solve my color balance issues.  Either that or new light bulbs.  But that's another story.

In any case, K.Blas made some a series of super helpful suggestions and discoveries and I though they deserved a second run outside of a comments section.  Also, he's got some good stuff on his blof, so be sure to check it out.  I know I will be.

[Edit:] between my computer being a dick and a movie night, I totally missed my midnight deadline for Tutorial Tuesday.  As it's still midnight somewhere in the US of A, I'm still gonna call it Tuesday, back date the post and pretend nothing happened.


  1. is this further evidence that I need to make a lightbox?

    also, had you waited another day you could have had threetorial thursdays

  2. Thanks for the shout-out Lauby. Can I call you Lauby? Oh and a suggestion on light bulbs check out GE's Daylight bulbs. I've had great results not only with my painting, but also picture taking with these.

  3. I just built a home-made light box last week. It was incredibily straight forward. I won't go into the details, so here's the links:


    To give credit where's it owed, I found the link it via Mr. Black's blog

    My results are here if you're so inclined