Custom Built Light Box for Product Shots

Posted in Blog, Gear, Lighting
Custom Built Light Box for Product Shots

With some upcoming commercials focusing on a product, I was looking for a way to light the product quickly and still make it look great. I thought about different photography light boxes but wanted this product to be showcased in a bar, restaurant, or even in a kitchen. Photography boxes usually entrap your product with surrounding white walls. I began thinking about lighting it from underneath and making something myself. Luckily, it was successful and I’m going to walk you through how to make one yourself.

The Purpose

This box was initially built to light up beer bottles and a beer being poured into a glass. I wanted to create something that could be setup quickly while easily going between different beers, options of glasses, bottles and combinations of them all. By creating a powerful soft source from underneath it lit the product, created a natural rim lit and separated from the background. By using house hold bulbs I have the option of various outputs and either tungsten or daylight coloring. After much thinking, I decided 4 bulbs would be more than enough power.

Materials and Tools

Now there are many ways one can go out about building something similar but here is a breakdown of materials bought and tools used.

Materials

1”x1’x3’ Board (x2)
8ft Extension Cable
660w Ceiling Light Socket (x4)
Box of Wood Screws
Plexiglass
100w Daylight Fluorescent Bulbs (x4)
White High Heat Spray Paint
Black High Heat Spray Paint
Cold Beer (optional)

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Tools

Circular Saw
Drill with proper bit size
Sandpaper
Razor Blade
Wire cutters
Phillips Head Screw Driver

The Build

The first thing you need to do is decide on the size of your box. I made the decision early on that I wanted 4 bulbs for this build. From there I placed on my board and measured that. For height I measured 9” and that was the same for the base where the bulbs would be attached. Easy enough.

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Step 1

Cut each side (4) into 9”. Then sand to smooth out all cuts and edges.
*I didn’t do this but next time I will paint my inside walls white and outside walls black out this point.

Step 2

With some help, screw in the 4 sides. I used 2 wood screws per side.
Screw your baseboard into the walls from above. Sand any rough edges if you haven’t yet.

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Step 3

Screw in a small hole in order to thread your power cable into the box.

Step 4

If you haven’t painted at this point go ahead and paint the inside white and we will begin the wiring as it dries.

I cut the 8ft extension cable in half and put the male end to the side (we will attach this later). Use the other 4ft left over and cut open to get the 3 wires free. We will be working with only the black and white wires (I didn’t ground this light but feel free to do so).

Step 5

Figure out how much room you want between each socket. Mine are touching because I wanted them as close as possible. Then cut the black and white wires at the correct size in order to chain them together. Anyone who’s made a batten light will fly through this part.

***Do not screw in the sockets to the board yet***

With the sockets I bought they have 2 terminals for both positive and neutral making it extremely easy to link each socket.

If you haven’t painted the outside black, do this now.

Step 6

Take the male end of the extension cable and open up the wires on the end you cut. Thread this through the hole you cut earlier and wire your positive and neutral cable to one of the sockets.

***Before screwing in the sockets to the wood, screw in your bulbs and plug into the wall to make sure they all turn on***

If all works, unplug the cable, remove the bulbs and screw in your sockets.

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Step 7

Almost done! All that is left is the plexiglass. (I left the plastic covering on as it works as a diffusion.) Measure the size you want and clamp on a work bench. With a sharp box cutter or utility knife, swipe on your line at least 5 times with lots of pressure. Edge that line over your bench, clamp down and break off. For now, I am just laying the plexiglass on top but may use some double sided velcro for more stability.

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Results

Here is what my final product looks like along with some product shots I did for testing. Would love to hear your thoughts on this and any tips you have to make it better.

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