Light Box Photography

A light box is a device that photographers use to create soft light. There are two types light boxes in photography. The first type, also called soft boxes and chimeras, is placed directly on a light, turning the direct harsh beams into soft diffused light. The second type of light box, sometimes called a light tent, is a small white box that you can use as a set for photographing small objects. It provides a uniform white background, while the white sides allow even, diffused light to pass through.

Light Boxes on Lights

A light box placed directly on the lamp is a great way to turn the beam into soft and diffused light. Professional light boxes are composed of four parts. There's the diffusion material, the "box" part, the sticks that give the box it's shape, and the ring.

Light boxes come with a couple different white diffusions of various intensities that attach to the "box" via velcro. Heavier materials create a greater diffusion, but they also sacrifice the intensity of the light. Because of this, you should only use light boxes on lights that are brighter then 1kW.

The "box" is black on the outside and silver on the inside. This allows the maximum amount of light from the bulb to pass through the diffusion, while the black outside keeps unwanted bounce light from hitting your subject. The box is given it's shape by the sticks, which attach the light box to a ring. The ring is what connects the box to the light. Ring sizes are designed for specific lights. If you have the wrong ring for your light, then the box will not fit.

Sometimes, you may find yourself in a situation where you want a light box but do not have one. You can easily make your own. All you need is tape, black and white poster board, and some type of diffusion. Cut the poster board into four equal pieces so that it is big enough to cover the light. Tape them together into a box, with the white on the inside and black on the outside. Then, tape the diffusion to the front of the box. Use a spare stand to place the box in front of your light source. You now have a soft box.

Light Boxes as Light Tents

The term light box is also used for light tents. Light tents are boxes with walls that are made out of diffusion material. They are used for getting soft, even diffused light when photographing small objects like jewelry. You can buy or rent them as well, or as easily make your own.

All you need to make your own is a cardboard box and tracing paper. You want to cut the sides of the box away while leaving the outer rims so that the structure is still there. Then you will tape the tracing paper over the holes. Shine some lights directly into the box and anything inside of it will look nice and soft. You can also add a piece of white poster board in there for a white background.