Shooting Challenge: $20 Lightbox

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Sooner or later, if you want a studio-quality photo of an object, you'll have to get a light box. But aren't those expensive? Not really. For about $20, you can build your own. And this week, you will!


The Challenge

Take a photo in a light box. If you don't already have a light box, build one!

The Technique

So what is a light box? It's basically a small space filled perfectly diffused light. If you've ever admired a photo of an object or even a plate of food, there's a good chance it was taken in a light box.

The thing is, they're very cheap and easy to build. Here's my favorite tutorial of about a million you can find online. All you really need is a cardboard box, tissue paper and a few daylight bulbs. No that complicated, right?

Now, you can create the "floating in white" effect in a light box, or you can use any other creative backdrop you choose. You can actually put wood planks, cloth or any other textured material in a light box to spruce up your photos. My recommendation would be, do something you can't normally pull off without the light box.

The Example

Our lead shot is from flickr's daveoratox. It's the original Zelda game for NES. And it's a great subject, not just because I love that game, but because the finish glows with an unearthly gold, but it's also scratched and pocked with use. You wouldn't see this much fidelity without the light box.


The Rules

0. No watermarks. They're so ugly.
1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced.
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a native resolution sized shot in email.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, February 4th at 10AM Eastern to with "Box" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameBox.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameBoxWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!



I've already got most of the stuff I need to make a light box. I've tried two shooting challenges so far, and both ended in disaster. For the last challenge, my hard drive lost all of the photos. For the one before, none of the images came out. This time, I will get it, OR DIE TRYING!