The Etsy Blog

Forty’s Foto Tips, #2: Make a light box!

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Ahoy! Thanks for stopping by my advice column in The Storque. I’m no professional photographer, but I figured that would just make it easier for me to pass on some fun and simple tips that can help anyone! If you have any suggestions, please feel free to email me at Lori@etsy.com. Here’s the first tip. Come back soon for more installments!

Tip #2: Make a light box!

We made one for the Etsy Labs using things found around the office and some info from Instructables.com. Here’s the Instructable: "Costless Macro Photography Light Box" by PetervG.

They’re tres economical and make a world of difference in your photos! Try to find yourself an easily portable lamp. It doesn’t have to be battery operated, but small desk lamps with telescopic parts can really make lighting your pieces much less stressful, and you can drag it all over your house. Lighting is essential when trying to take up-close images and a flash will create unwanted glare. Make sure your head or camera isn’t between the light and the object or you will get an awkward shadow. I find it’s best to set up the light box on a table so you don’t kill your back contorting yourself to take pictures on the floor. Once you have a light box set up and ready to roll, practice using the macro setting on your camera, if you have one. 

 

This will allow you to get nice and close but still have a clear picture. If you don’t have a "close up" setting, try standing back from the object and zooming in.

  • christysquilts

    christysquilts says:

    I made one very similar to the one you have posted: http://www.flickr.com/photos/christysquilts/362019649/ differences, I used white posterboard for the sides/back instead of cutting holes in the box and I put the lights on the front - pointing at the top and walls not directly at the item to prevent shadows. Light boxes work great! (same item as pictured from the above set up)

    6 years ago

  • christysquilts

    christysquilts says:

    ooops, i forgot to include the pic i was mentioning: http://www.flickr.com/photos/christysquilts/362020055/

    6 years ago

  • knuckletoes

    knuckletoes says:

    Why this never occurred to me, I do not know, thanks for the tip!

    6 years ago

  • WarmandFuzzyBaby

    WarmandFuzzyBaby says:

    Thank you ofr the tips. Photography is my biggest weakness.

    6 years ago

  • beadbooty

    beadbooty says:

    Thank you. I see a light box in my future!

    6 years ago

  • hookinmama

    hookinmama says:

    This is such a wonderful ideal! I have been taking my pics outside, but I think this is great for when you can't get out or you find something late at night that you just have to list right then and there. I am definitely going to try this!

    6 years ago

  • beadbooty

    beadbooty says:

    I made my lightbox this week and it has made a tremendous difference in my photos. I'll never be a great photographer but at least my photos will now reflect the true beauty of the pieces I work hard to create.

    6 years ago

  • kjoo

    kjoo says:

    This was very useful I need something like that!Thank you so much for sharing!

    6 years ago

  • LobesOfFun

    LobesOfFun says:

    I am quite appreciative that you put this up for us. The link easy to access and read. I just found Etsy and love the community within. Creative people are awesome!

    6 years ago

  • Chillionaire Admin

    Chillionaire says:

    I'm glad everyone is enjoying this tip! If you have any photos of your homemade light boxes or pics that you've taken using your light box, feel free to link us so we can see how well they turned out xo

    6 years ago

  • addition

    addition says:

    Make sure you get a daylight balanced bulb for your pics,not a tungsten and that you put your camera on daylight setting. Play with the setting in your camera, you can pick from vivid-more color saturation or standard. I would highly recommend getting the amateur photoshop, it can cure many photo ills! See my photos! addition.etsy.com additions for your walls

    6 years ago

  • coffeelatte

    coffeelatte says:

    Thank you - living in the NW, it can be pretty grey outside and I am not happy with a lot of my inside shots. This will be a real help -- and thanks, too, for the note about choosing the right bulb!

    6 years ago

  • dorkdesigns

    dorkdesigns says:

    Thanks for the tip. I will be making a lighting box tonite

    6 years ago

  • carriekim

    carriekim says:

    Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

    6 years ago

  • jmillen

    jmillen says:

    AHHH, thanks for this! I made a light box from another site and it just didn't do the trick. It said to light thru the tissue paper sides... I had lights all over the place, my pics were better but still not great!

    6 years ago

  • jumpinstego

    jumpinstego says:

    thanks for the lightbox tips! very helpful. a question: who makes those amazing necklaces with state-shaped pendants??? i want one.

    6 years ago

  • Nafsika

    Nafsika says:

    Very useful article indeed!!!

    6 years ago

  • TiTasTreasures

    TiTasTreasures says:

    This is very helpful! After my shop was critiqued I was pretty bummed bc I need to work on some of my photos...and at the time I didnt know how...ta da!!! THANKS!

    5 years ago

  • SunriseCreationsInc

    SunriseCreationsInc says:

    Thanks for the tips. Getting good pictures is a challenge and though mine are getting better, I think a light box would be a big help. thanks!

    5 years ago

  • joannafaithdesigns

    joannafaithdesigns says:

    I can't wait to make mine!

    5 years ago

  • patricewright

    patricewright says:

    I made one! It works so well, I can't believe how much better my pics look. mine works best when I use it outside. I put a white sheet over the top so I dont have shadows.

    5 years ago

  • LeverageDesigns

    LeverageDesigns says:

    Thanks so so much.

    5 years ago

  • AmandaYuDesign

    AmandaYuDesign says:

    Thanks a lot! It's a very helpful lesson :))) *bow*

    5 years ago

  • SixSkeins

    SixSkeins says:

    Brilliant. I know what I'll be making this weekend! I have wondered for so long how people get their lighting and backgrounds so wonderful - thanks for sharing the secrets!

    5 years ago

  • noelya

    noelya says:

    Thanks for the advice.

    5 years ago

  • BebeToby

    BebeToby says:

    Thanks for sharing the great tips!

    5 years ago

  • braziliansparadise

    braziliansparadise says:

    Amazing !! thanks for sharing :) I cant wait to try one out

    5 years ago

  • ArtsOfTheOzarks

    ArtsOfTheOzarks says:

    Love this idea! I have to try this!

    5 years ago

  • IrenaSophia

    IrenaSophia says:

    Thank you for the tip. I will definitely make one.

    5 years ago

  • dshekhter

    dshekhter says:

    Thanks for the help!

    5 years ago

  • lynnetteart

    lynnetteart says:

    So simple yet very effective!

    5 years ago

  • MonasMane

    MonasMane says:

    Lol! I want to laugh because this so easy and cheap- and perfect for me. I was stressing on lighting since I can't really afford anything extensive, you know since I'm a broke college student and all...(-:

    5 years ago

  • kohlcass

    kohlcass says:

    Perfect for when I want to take photos in the midle of the night, i.e. every day. Thank you!

    5 years ago

  • kohlcass

    kohlcass says:

    midDle

    5 years ago

  • jurphy

    jurphy says:

    Thanks so much - I am going to try this tonight!!

    5 years ago

  • AuntTiff

    AuntTiff says:

    I was desperately trying to figure out why everyone's photo's look so good and mine didn't. Thank you, I am building a light box tomarrow!

    5 years ago

  • loopiforyou

    loopiforyou says:

    I made a lightbox yesterday! I love it and am currently updating my old dark and blurry photos for new crisper bright ones! THANKS!!! I also found that using my camera with a 10 second timer on a tripod helped a lot.

    5 years ago

  • enchantedpond

    enchantedpond says:

    that's totally great ... i am a photographer and i like it alot !!! :)

    5 years ago

  • madisonssparrow

    madisonssparrow says:

    Thanks so much...I'm just starting out and need all the help I can get!

    5 years ago

  • thatspretty

    thatspretty says:

    ooohh I'm so excted for sleepless nights when I just cannot wait to take that photo!!!!!

    5 years ago

  • thepaintedsparrow

    thepaintedsparrow says:

    Thanks! I am going to get the supplies right now:)

    5 years ago

  • sstarlaa

    sstarlaa says:

    I have the lamps, just not the box! I like the poster board idea. Really helpful!

    5 years ago

  • memorycatchers

    memorycatchers says:

    Thanks for the tip. I'm just getting started and I've already been told my photos are too blurry. My problem is that I have shiny glittery glass ware that I am trying to photograph. I'll be trying this tomorrow to see if it works better.

    5 years ago

  • KimmareeJewelree

    KimmareeJewelree says:

    I love this idea. I started to make mine a week ago. I seen this idea on another website and felt that this was great since money is tight.

    5 years ago

  • PeaceComesInHandy

    PeaceComesInHandy says:

    This tip has given me such joy! Thanks so much.

    5 years ago

  • KentwoodKreations

    KentwoodKreations says:

    Thanks for the tips.I cant wait to make my lightbox and try it.

    5 years ago

  • GlazedOver

    GlazedOver says:

    I'm curious to know whether this will work for very vertical pottery pieces. Does anyone have any experience with this or specific tips that can help?

    5 years ago

  • YourSpecialCharm

    YourSpecialCharm says:

    Thanks for all the good ideas! I'm going to make a box tonight as my photos are always cut off or too dark, etc. I love this format!

    5 years ago

  • ContagiousCreations

    ContagiousCreations says:

    This is such a great necessity! Unfortunately I had made one but was getting frustrated with the unusual size of box i used and I threw it out! :( I need to make another, pictures are not the same without the!

    5 years ago

  • scottshandmadecrafts

    scottshandmadecrafts says:

    I had read about making a light box, but thought it was too complicated. Now I'm all set to give it a try. I definetely need one since my house seems to be too dark for photos without a flash, even by a window.

    5 years ago

  • CRe8n4uByLiSa

    CRe8n4uByLiSa says:

    How very sweet of you to share you wonderful ideas! Hope you're having a great day. Lisa >^..^<

    5 years ago

  • InspirationByFlorna

    InspirationByFlorna says:

    I definitely would like to try and make the light box! Thanks for the advice!

    5 years ago

  • nichan

    nichan says:

    if you really care about the photo make sure you buy portable lamp correctly...my husband bought me as cheap as possible (doesn't matter the quality). It's broken within some weeks (T_T). it's a waste

    5 years ago

  • LaCasita

    LaCasita says:

    I am new to Etsy and have uploaded some stuff. . .took more pictures this morning. . .but I wish I would have read this first! . . .Logical, Easy, and Necessary if I'm gonna stay here! . . Thanks for the info!!!

    5 years ago

  • simplewhimsies

    simplewhimsies says:

    Sooooo helpful! I am just setting up my shop today and haven't started with photography yet, I think you've saved me some BIG headaches! Thanks for the info...

    5 years ago

  • SavonShoppe

    SavonShoppe says:

    I finally made my light box have yet to use so I appreciate the tips on where/where not to put camera. Thanks

    5 years ago

  • CreativeArtCenter

    CreativeArtCenter says:

    I'm going to make a box tomorrow. My photos are always dark or yellow. Thank you very much for your help.

    4 years ago

  • jmliss

    jmliss says:

    This is great!! Thanks! No more rain outs now!!

    4 years ago

  • VantasticDesigns

    VantasticDesigns says:

    I use an empty closet. I removed all the clothes, placed a floor lamp that directs the light upwards, then have 2 lights, one to each side. Then I place a small table in the closet. It is so easy to change the backround...I have a yard each of black, white and gray fabric that I can drape over the table and voila! a miniature photo studio. I keep a bin in the closet with all sorts of props. When I am ready to shoot some new items everything is right in the closet ready to go!(It really helps to have the floor lamp!)

    4 years ago

  • EelKat

    EelKat says:

    I'll be making one of these in the next day or so. Thanks for the tip!

    4 years ago

  • TodoCecilia

    TodoCecilia says:

    cooooooooooool!!!!!!!

    4 years ago

  • wildcubs

    wildcubs says:

    Pretty cool info. Editing photo information was every useful to me.

    4 years ago

  • sivansart

    sivansart says:

    You light my imagination!! Thanks Sivan

    4 years ago

  • studiomeeshel

    studiomeeshel says:

    Thank you so much, Chillionaire! This is such an awesome idea, I'm gonna make one tonight and try to redo some or all of my photos. By tomorrow, my shop should see a much needed improvement! :)

    4 years ago

  • TheNightjar

    TheNightjar says:

    great thanks a bunch

    4 years ago

  • studiomeeshel

    studiomeeshel says:

    Thanx again, my pics look so much better this time around :D

    4 years ago

  • AmaliArt

    AmaliArt says:

    Thnak you for sharing, I'll try to make one too, I'm sure it will help me with my pics

    4 years ago

  • newsprout

    newsprout says:

    Still need help! I made a light box this weekend and it did not work. I was bummed. My picutes turned out terrible. Still looks like indoor pictures, either too washed out or too dark. No depth to the photos, just flat and dim looking. I used poster foam board and two lights with bright white bulbs. What am I doing wrong?

    4 years ago

  • mssewsavvy

    mssewsavvy says:

    newsprout, what settings are you using on the camera? that may be the cuprit. I have been advised to set it to AWB-all white balance...check the camera's manual

    4 years ago

  • LondonParticulars

    LondonParticulars says:

    A world of difference!

    4 years ago

  • druidsden

    druidsden says:

    Newsprout, photographing glass can be very complicated. Tanslucent glass often looks best when iluminated from below by a hidden (from the camera) by a narrow beam of light. Try using a light pointing up. Cut a round hole in cardnoard approximately the size of the object you want to light. Place the cardboard with the hole several inches above the light and hang yout object far enough above the hole that the hole will not be seen in the picture. A lightbox with the hole cut in the bottom works well. If your camera has a manual exposure option use it. Take a test picture. If it is too dark use a longer (slower) shutter speed, if too light use a shorter (faster)shutter speed. If the picture looks too dull or grey try to eliminate any stray light. Use only the light coming through the hole. Use a tripod.

    4 years ago

  • cozettebyclearcat

    cozettebyclearcat says:

    Thanks for great tip~!!

    4 years ago

  • HighsmithStudio

    HighsmithStudio says:

    Very informative and great tips. Will try the lightbox to see if it makes my purses pop.

    4 years ago

  • maggiestringsbeads

    maggiestringsbeads says:

    Love the lite box idea - tried it, but everything is yellowish... Is there a certain kind of lite bulb I should be using? Thanks!

    4 years ago

  • catibug

    catibug says:

    Thank you for the infomation I know my photos need help and this is a great start thank you again

    4 years ago

  • HummingbyrdJewelry

    HummingbyrdJewelry says:

    I'm definitely going to give this a try. I've been having a heck of a time with photos. All of the materials I work with are reflective which makes glare a serious problem. And then adjusting the exposure in iPhoto made everything yellow. I've got to try this and get the right bulb too.

    4 years ago

  • MadAboutYarn

    MadAboutYarn says:

    thanks for the tips. Will try it out!

    4 years ago

  • tiffany300

    tiffany300 says:

    I made one... It came out a little better then this one. This one looks like it's seen better days... or it's being used alot(wink). I have a pool table and set up the light box on there so the Pool Lights hanging down, shown right into it, so the lamp doesn't weight on the side of the cardboard. You can also do this on a breakfast bar or kitchen counter that has hanging lighting fixtures.

    4 years ago

  • BluegrassSass

    BluegrassSass says:

    I am so gonna give this a try, thanks!

    3 years ago

  • BluegrassSass

    BluegrassSass says:

    I am so going to give this a try, thanks!

    3 years ago

  • mazuli83

    mazuli83 says:

    Thanks for the tip!

    3 years ago

  • LisaLouRedoVintage2

    LisaLouRedoVintage2 says:

    Great information! Even the comments have given me a world of information. Our pictures are the most important asset, so many thanks to all!!! Lisa

    3 years ago

  • thebrontelife

    thebrontelife says:

    I need this.

    3 years ago

  • TheNightjar

    TheNightjar says:

    thanks a bunch

    3 years ago

  • MoonlightAndFire

    MoonlightAndFire says:

    I have done something similar using a wooden chair with low arms and some white damask table cloths. It sits in front of my large windows and gathers the natural light. It definitely has a "Bates Motel" look but it is effective. My standing full spectrum lamp can be easily shone onto the object. It works well for my photos. Joanne

    3 years ago

  • SweetiePieCaketopper

    SweetiePieCaketopper says:

    Super helpful

    3 years ago

  • josoriginals

    josoriginals says:

    I've been working on a light box without much success. Thanks for the tips- I'll try again!!

    3 years ago

  • taintbosh

    taintbosh says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    3 years ago

  • bluetaildesigns

    bluetaildesigns says:

    I have started using a light box of sorts that I made and it definitely makes a difference. I plan to retake pictures of items that need it.

    3 years ago

  • MothersMiniTreasures

    MothersMiniTreasures says:

    I bought an inexpensive light box at a hardware store! A very good investment. Also, they are easy to find on the internet at reasonable prices.

    3 years ago

  • PappyBoutique

    PappyBoutique says:

    the link is not working for me...

    3 years ago

  • 2Tui

    2Tui says:

    Thanks for sharing! Great info. Going to build my box!

    3 years ago

  • EllenBallStudios

    EllenBallStudios says:

    This is great! There are other cheap alternatives too. Consider using a large paper lampshade from the thrift store (off white, no pleats, no patterns) and cut out the cross wires in its top. I use this over an old slate roofing tile as my background, side light it with clamp lights from the hardware store (adjustable desk lamps work well too) and shoot straight down using a tripod. The distance between the lights and shade as well as bulb wattage can be tweaked to get the right amount of light. Now that my work is taking on dimension, I need to shoot horizontally so I bought a large semi-transparent storage bin for $6. It will be laid on its side, covered with a thin white sheet and side lit. The background will be sloped fine art paper, fabric, etc. Small holes will be drilled on each side so that monofilament line can be strung across (ends taped on the outside) to suspend earrings. Test photos commence next week, and I'll let everyone know how it goes!

    3 years ago

  • MAGNUSandJANE

    MAGNUSandJANE says:

    Thanks to everyone for the helpful information! I have been procrastinating adding some new listing because I can't seem to get very good pictures. Now I have a project for the weekend.

    3 years ago

  • artfulfancies

    artfulfancies says:

    Wow... lots of good info here. I've been freaking because even w/natural light my pics come out blue or pinkish & I'm spending untold hours re-shooting and/or trying to 'fix' the color and brightness on each pic & not really succeeding. I'm off to find a good sized box & daylight bulbs.

    3 years ago

  • Dunthor

    Dunthor says:

    I found a light-tent on amazon for 24 bucks that I like because it folds flat. I am still working on lights though. How do I combat the blue?

    3 years ago

  • indianmoonsoap

    indianmoonsoap says:

    I shoot some things outdoors when possible, but that's an awesome and easy way to get some shadow free items inside! thanks much

    3 years ago

  • indianmoonsoap

    indianmoonsoap says:

    thanks so much for the great tip! I usually shoot everything outdoors, but that's not always possible, so thank you very much!

    3 years ago

  • msalls1

    msalls1 says:

    Going to give it a try.

    3 years ago

  • AlikiBags

    AlikiBags says:

    Like warmandfuzzybaby I do so struggle with the photographs of my bags. I have even at times sold a bag without taking a picture for the record. Thanks for reminding me and inspiring me to work on this aspect of our work as "cyber sellers"!!! x

    3 years ago

  • KooKooCraft

    KooKooCraft says:

    this is a really useful tip, I will try to do my box in the following days. thanks! :)

    3 years ago

  • Lollyflower

    Lollyflower says:

    Wow, great. My hubby is a Photographer, oh why did i not think of this before!

    3 years ago

  • Eloras

    Eloras says:

    I tried the white box for my photo box without cutting out the sides and used two lamps facing into the box, but am still not getting enough light and am getting shadows on my pieces. I'll try directing the lights at the top of the box, but does anyone have any other advice?

    3 years ago

  • noahbear1

    noahbear1 says:

    I got a little light box from Ebay and I'm not having success with it. It's very odd because the bottom is not smooth and they put Velcro tabs in it. I guess I'll give a homemade one a try instead!

    3 years ago

  • Lensman

    Lensman says:

    Full spectrum lights can be expensive. An alternative is to use whatever lights you have (preferably all the same, but not mandatory) and then use your camera's WHITE BALANCE option to adjust for the light's colour spectrum - Essentially this means putting a piece of paper that represents the "white" you want and then calibrating the camera to read it as white. Check your camera's manual.... you still have your manual, right? :) Glenn 3D Printed Jewellery

    3 years ago

  • PearlsDesigns

    PearlsDesigns says:

    Thank you for this! I am a new seller and I have been trouble with capturing good photos. Funny how I never thought I would have to figure out the photography part of making jewelry. I will definitely be trying a light box for my next pix!

    3 years ago

  • WootsieTootsie

    WootsieTootsie says:

    Perfect! Thanks for posting this.

    3 years ago

  • QueenKhalilah

    QueenKhalilah says:

    AMAZING. THE SIMPLICITY OF THE LIGHT BOX IS TRULY AMAZING. I CANT WAIT TO TRY IT.

    3 years ago

  • StarfishAndTheSea

    StarfishAndTheSea says:

    This has been sooo helpful! Although I've been fortunate with natural lighting for some of my pieces, pictures of other pieces just don't do them justice!!! I've experienced this especially with lighter colored gems looking washed out. I'm definitely looking forward to creating my own light box so I can start my next shop makeover :)

    3 years ago

  • TiaDropDesigns

    TiaDropDesigns says:

    Thankyou so much, this has been really helpful. I will get straight to work on my light box. Can't wait to see the difference :-)

    3 years ago

  • SweetlyScrappedArt

    SweetlyScrappedArt says:

    I've never seen this design before. I like it :)

    3 years ago

  • ScrapHappieAZ

    ScrapHappieAZ says:

    I got a light box for Christmas but my photos are still yellowish. Any suggestions?

    3 years ago

  • creativestone123

    creativestone123 says:

    Thanks so much! Pictures make all the difference. I'm going to give this a try!!!!

    3 years ago

  • littleTstudio

    littleTstudio says:

    Thank you so much for this information! =0) ~T

    3 years ago

  • CanyonEmbroidery

    CanyonEmbroidery says:

    Yes! Thank you bunches! Great info :))

    3 years ago

  • beadhappy8

    beadhappy8 says:

    amazing idea! i don't have to wait 'til morning just to have my best shot....can still work in the evening :)

    3 years ago

  • jewelsbyDawn

    jewelsbyDawn says:

    I will definitely be trying this! Thank-you

    2 years ago

  • sealily1

    sealily1 says:

    I made a light box, painted the interior white, cut out the sides and top, used a white almost sheer fabric over cutouts. I've tried lighting (with 75watt "reveal" bulbs) on the sides & top but Im getting either pink or blue backgrounds. The last shot was done using my white balance setting. What am I doing wrong?

    2 years ago

  • NannyMadeandfound

    NannyMadeandfound says:

    I have been looking for a simple solution to lighting problems...not always able to be outside, or what am I going to do during those dark winter days. I came up with a similar idea yesterday, but it has some flaws. This will be much more effective. I figured a "natural daylight" type light bulb would be best, so will be going shopping and get my very capable husband working on making me a box. I am so thankful that the Etsy community works together like this to help us all be successful

    2 years ago

  • emeraldbluerose

    emeraldbluerose says:

    Ah poo... the Instructable post has been deleted. :( I wanted to make one...

    2 years ago

  • GencysExit

    GencysExit says:

    The instructable post linked above has been deleted, but Digital Photography school has a similar tutorial for those who still want to make it: http://www.digital-photography-school.com/how-to-make-a-inexpensive-light-tent

    2 years ago

  • LoveSalinaMarie

    LoveSalinaMarie says:

    yay! this sounds like a fun project! :)

    2 years ago

  • HandstampedOriginals

    Melissa McAllister from HandstampedOriginals says:

    Going to try this today--thanks!

    2 years ago

  • ArtbyRiley

    Riley and Sydney from IvoryRoadVintage says:

    I'm always looking for ways to improve the photography in my shop, great advice!(:

    2 years ago

  • WildBeautyDesign

    Bill Wild from WildBeautyDesign says:

    The Instructable light box article has been removed from the link you posted.

    1 year ago

  • MiiniMoh

    Melody from MiiniMoh says:

    Boo, the instructable has been removed....:(

    1 year ago

  • MiiniMoh

    Melody from MiiniMoh says:

    http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-make-a-inexpensive-light-tent

    1 year ago

  • sandrassatchels

    sandrassatchels from sandrassatchels says:

    That's fine for small items that fit into a light box, but what about larger items like handbags for instance.

    196 days ago

  • RazBarryDesigns

    Roberta Barry from RazBarryDesigns says:

    Love this idea....I live outside of Pittsburgh and in the winter, we rarely get any sun so I'm forced to rely on those rare days the sun comes out. Often I'm not at home. Sixty Beans mentioned using a "natural daylight" type light bulb. Do these exist and where might I find one? Thanks

    86 days ago