Thursday, March 11, 2010

Part 13 - The Big White Box

Hi again everyone. I'm back with another entry on how to use your digital camera for taking tabletop photos.

There are several good tutorials on the web for making a light box and as we’ve already covered the mini white box, you will be familiar with the technique of papering the inside with white poster board or paper, cutting out windows for the lights and adding a white paper sweep inside.

Here is how I’ve made my big box from a printer box which was a little battered after being stored in my garden shed!

Measurements of this box :
Width 19" (49 cm), Height 13.5" (34 cm), Depth 12" (30 cm).

1. Cut off one of the small flaps on the top of the box, and using a box cutter cut out 3 windows, leaving 3" (6.5cm) window frames around the edges as in first photo. That’s two large side windows and the top opening where your main light will shine.Then cut strips of white poster paper to cover the frames around the windows inside the box.

box 1
box 2
2. Turning the box on its end, tape tracing paper to the outside of the two big side windows and paper the inside of the three remaining flaps using white printer or poster paper and a glue stick or liquid white glue.

box 3
box 4
3. Cut a paper sweep the length of one side plus enough to come right out to the front opening and attach it to the back wall with a couple of cello tape loops on the back of the paper. The sweep must be easy to remove when you want to change the colour or replace it when it’s soiled, so it’s not glued at the top.

box 5
4. The reason for papering the three white flaps in the front opening for the camera is so we can also push them up into position to act as reflectors.
The two long side flaps can be nearly closed, leaving just enough room for you to put the camera lens through the opening.

box 6
box 7
5. I’ve set up three lights on my desk: the top extension desk lamp with the CFL bulb which shines down through the top opening and two smaller side lamps to shine through the tracing paper windows on wither side. I needed books to raise up the two small lamps, both which have CFL bulbs.

I didn’t notice at first, but the little lamp on the right has a warm coloured rather than a daylight bulb, so on the following photos you see a golden light coming from the right. However I left it at that. Do be sure your bulbs are all of the same Kelvin temperature, as marked on the bulb package when you buy them. (Daylight is around 5000K to 6500K). The lower the number, the more golden is the light.

box 8
box 9

box 10
box 11

Recommended reading:

If you like to collect photography books as I do, then here are some that I recommend you read (after you’ve read your camera manual of course) :-)

1. Digital Food Photography by Lou Manna

2. Close-Up Photography by Michael Freeman

3. Light Science & Magic by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver, Paul Fuqua

4. Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson


There are many sources of information on digital photography on the web now, but I have always liked Darren Rowse’s Digital Photography School tips and tutorials for beginners and experienced photographers, with a search function so you can find information about a specific subject

This ends Part One of the beginners' tutorials, intended for those who have not yet learned how to use their point & shoot digital cameras, and especially for those wanting to take tabletop and food photographs.

The next sections will go into more details of learning and handling your camera functions to get the pictures you want. I hope you will continue to visit and will find some useful advice.

Until then, thanks for following!


shana70 said...

Thanks so much for this site - I am just starting out and it is so helpful. I live in Canada and have had great luck shooting snaps of my food and projects in daylight but as it starts getting darker and darker earlier and earlier in the fall and it's dark at 5pm in the winter my productivity grinds to a halt. I'm going to make a lightbox following your instructions and then I'll be able to shoot our dinners all year long!

Many thanks again,

Canarybird said...

Good luck with your project Shana and thank you for your visit. I'll be over for a visit to your site soon. Sharon.

Walter said...

Great suggestion! Creating a 'Big White Box' would truly be helpful for individuals who are trying to shoot their food and other materials at home.

Mys sister hired professional photographers (in Irving) for her pre-wedding photo shoot. I noticed that they extensively use reflectors to make the image appear brighter since the venue is indoors. The same principle is seen using the 'Big White box'.

I'll definitely make one at home for better shots. Thanks!

Canarybird said...

You're welcome Walter and thanks for your visit. If you haven't already done so, check some of the first tutorials in this series where I show how I used simple white homemade reflectors. Sharon.

MB said...

This will absolutely be a wonderful box for food photography! :D I looked up over the internet and found some of the top rated cameras in the market. I am thinking of getting a new point and shoot camera and I can't decide what to get between a Nikon or Canon... I want to try food photography. It looks really great. :)

Stone Art's Blog said...

Fab tip, I am definitely going to give this box a go. Nice blog you have here. I have that book by Bryan Peterson as well. A fantastic book. This book got me shooting in Manual pretty much all the time now.

Sheikh Zayed said...

I am very food lover and try snapping food. that made me lovely.
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