Friday, December 14, 2012

Plastic Bin Photography Light Box

Hello, these weeks are sure going by fast! Christmas is almost here and I know everyone is cranking out some fantabulous jewelry as this is our busy season.

A couple of days ago, I posted a photo of my homemade photography lightbox on Facebook and it generated a lot of comments. I want to share with you what my process is for photographing my jewelry for the web and print work.

I'm a frugal kind of gal. I try to make do with what I have around the house before I go out and spend money on something already fabricated.  So here is the gist of my system.

I use a clear plastic storage bin as a light box. I take single sheets of copy paper and use clear tape to enclose the box as shown below. This acts as a diffuser, and allows the light to bounce around the bin in a more uniform manner.

I position my light box in front of a window, or depending on the weather and light situation; I take it outside and put it on my porch.  I love taking jewelry shots in a bright, overcast sky. Direct light is not the best, as it tends to wash out your subject matter. As you can see, this is pretty much the set up. It's portable, and I have plenty of room to put my props in.

I keep my props simple. I want people to focus on the jewelry, not the props. I have been using light backgrounds and I have a collection of rocks that I use from time to time to add a little pizazz to the photograph.

Here is the editing process I do...

First, I take the shot.  As you can see, the photo below is the raw image. No editing at all so far. With the light box, that is still a pretty good raw shot. The lighting is nice and diffused. But I need to gussy it up a bit. I usually shoot much closer then this, using my macro setting on my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX150. I use the automatic setting usually, and it automatically puts it in Macro. If you have a digital camera, your macro setting should look like a flower on your choice of buttons. It's a point and shoot camera that I've had for a few years now. Still does the job and it only cost me 200 bucks. 

I upload my photos into It's free to use, and I really love the photo editing software. It's easy. Just mess around with it and you will get it down pretty fast since it is very straightforward.

Once it is uploaded, I then edit it. I have developed my own sort of preferences as far as styling my photographs. I like the torn paper look as far as a frame. They have loads of options, so again, just play around and do what appeals to you.

The photo below is the same one as above, but I have just processed it so it's ready for prime time. I prefer to crop square because I know I will using my photos on Etsy, and since they crop square, it's just easier for me to do it before I upload. I use the Contrast button, never the Auto Adjust in Photobucket. Auto Adjust nine times out of ten looks terrible. I may brighten it up a bit, then use the Contrast button to make it pop. Again, I usually get in really close so I don't have to crop it so much, but I wanted you to really see what you can do with a raw photo using a light box.

This is usually how close I get in...and for post earrings, I find photographing them with a sandwich board piece of paper shows them off the best. 

Now, for collages, like the one yesterday, I download the photos onto my computer and then go over to and use their collage feature. Sometimes I use collages on my blog, and Picmonkey has a great Facebook and Pinterest collage that is really fun to use too. Their Facebook collage is made to fit perfectly on your Facebook Page and I use it on my Soul to Substance and personal Facebook  both.

I hope this helps you some as far as figuring out your photography don't have to have an expensive set up at all to photograph and distribute your work.  If you have more questions, I will be back on here tonight. I will be out today, helping my father buy a river boat!


Artisan Beads Plus said...

I'm going to try this. Like you, I like to use what I have around the house before buying too! I like to think of it as being creative .... lol!
I have a light box that I made from ceiling tiles. It is big so I cannot carry it around. In the months that we actually have light, I prefer to go outside in the indirect light (or overcast). Currently, when I get home from work it is dark! Anyhow, I have to take pics tonight..... I'm going to try to spice up my jewelry pictures like you have. I will let you know how it goes. I've used Photo Bucket, but then had problems saving them back on my own computer. I must be doing something wrong. Thanks for sharing all of your great ideas!

Stacie said...

MaryAnn...I'm using Photobucket's Beta version and having no problems downloading my pics back to my computer...good luck!

stacilouise said...

I made one out of a box and paper, but its not big enough for my chunky big jewelry. This is a fabulous idea, and I am sure I can round up one of these bins somewhere in my house! thanks so much for the tips!

Alice said...

I normally set up with just a piece of foamcore on a table in front of a north facing window. It works pretty well for me. But there are days that there is not enough light and I think your setup would be just the thing for those situations.

Do you shoot all your photos in raw, or by raw are you meaning they are just not edited yet?

Thanks for sharing!

Cynthia@Ornamental Style said...

I made my light box out of a cardboard box with the centers of the sides cut out and lined with a white shower curtain. However, I don't use it because the photos (inside with daylight bulbs) seem too dark. So I take my photos on the porch but am always fighting shadows. I think I'll take the light box to the porch! I appreciate seeing your actual set up and how you use it. It's a big help.

I use Photoshop to edit my photos and adjust the levels and brightness/contrast. I like knowing some other options and the torn paper effect that you're using.

Maybe with a few adjustments, I can improve my photos. Thanks, Stacie, for the information.

mairedodd said...

have fun buying a river boat!
as always an incredibly professional and helpful post - thank you, stacie... i am sure this is going to help a lot of people...

Stacie said...

Alice...yes..I do mean not edited, not RAW, raw... :O

Linda Sadler said...

Thanks for sharing! I still struggle with taking pictures of my jewelry. I'm going to try your editing method.

ciaolucia said...

Stacie what a great post! You have explained it well and I love that the light box is just a clear plastic tub, everyone probably has one at home. Thanks.

Erin Keane said...

So informative, thank you! Taking photographs of finished work is one of my least favoprite things, and even though I've come up with a system that works fairly well, I still have trouble getting consistency. I like your idea of using a clear plastic box to begin with--that makes total sense. And I'll have to check out Photobucket.

Lovely work, you always have inticing photos!

deborah foord said...

Loving this idea Stacie, and made a simple photobox today and it worked brilliantly, I can't seem to find the torn paper frame on photobucket can you help please? Thanks very much Debs

Karla said...

I love this! I am going to do this for my products. Love Love Love

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