I am no expert on photography, but starting up this blog has encouraged me to tinker around with the camera. During the dark days of Winter, I wanted to have the freedom to take photos in the evening when little natural light was available. We decided to read up on making our own do-it-yourself light studio.
Mr. SixBalloons ended up building two models, one of which is made of salvaged plastic white sign board material. We simply taped together the pieces with the white backsides as the interior walls of the photo studio.
Another common style is made with an ordinary cardboard box with the sides and top cut out, covered by some translucent white material. I used some white fabric purchased at a thrift store to diffuse the light.
Taking my Kathie Winkle Corinth Teacup as a subject, I tested out the various lighting situations in the cardboard model as follows:
Light Studio with Diffused Light
Natural Light Only (Evening)
Natural Light, with Camera Flash
Clearly the first photo taken without flash in the diffused light situation worked best at mimicking natural lighting and showing the true colours. The light bulbs do create some glare spots, but it might be worthwhile experimenting with say, two layers of white tissue paper instead of the sheer cloth I used.
Because of the bright and reflective surface of the plastic signboard, I prefer the plastic light studio over the cardboard model. I feel that the light bouncing off the smooth white surfaces diffuses the lighting further, reducing shadows and creating a more natural look. The Primary Bowls below can perhaps show this.
If changing backgrounds is important to you, the cardboard model makes it very convenient and versatile. The table runner I often use as a backdrop to my photos lays easily through the cardboard opening at the top of the box.
The bottom line for me? You just can't beat natural light for freedom when taking pictures. However, I love having a simple home-made alternative that lets me take photos after sundown.
This was a fun DIY project for us, and rewarding because we saved money by salvaging and re-using. The adjustable desk-clamped lamps were collected on various thrifting adventures for about $3 each. We decided it was important to get proper lights and purchased these Philips Compact Flourescent bulbs which output 100w while actually using 23w of energy. We know these will last us a long time.