How to Make a Mini Light Studio Using School Supplies
When school’s out, most kids are thinkin’ “Oh man, summer’s here!”
Us? We’re thinkin’ “What are we gonna do with all these binders???”
Staring at binders all summer long is no fun, so our buddies Chris Rutter and Jeff Meyer (of Digital Camera World) showed us how to turn them into a sweet light tent — perfect for casting beautifully diffused light onto your photo subjects.
That means your photos won’t have harsh shadows from the sun, and your camera will catch all of your subject’s details.
Everyone has a binder or two at home, so you can start this project today!
Plus, this portable light tent gives you great lighting on flowers, insects, and other small stuff without having to pluck them out of the ground.
Throw it in your bag, and you’ve got a mini studio wherever you go this summer.
- 3 white, translucent binders
- 8 1/2″x11″ colorful cardstock
- Duct tape (grey is good!)
- A camera
- Optional: small hand-sized beanbags
Step 1: Tape it together
Grab a second one and lay it open and flat. Keeping them open, overlap the cover of one binder on top of the back cover of the second.
Use your duct tape to keep them connected at their folds (check out the photo). You should have three panels.
Cut the front cover off your third binder and attach it to the center panel at its top edge. It’ll act like the roof to your light tent.
Try standing your light tent up, and if the roof is too floppy (flappy?), tape it down to help the tent keep its shape.
Step 2: Pick something to shoot
Scratch that. Take a good long look! We bet there’s something hidden out there that’d make a great photo subject.
Jeff found this budding flower, but maybe you’ll catch a rollie pollie unfurling or a butterfly snacking on a daisy.
If you’re not feeling the outdoors, set up a fun miniature scene with figurines, knick knacks, and stuff around your house. Slinkachu’s rad inspiration for that.
You can also practice your product photography by throwing almost anything in your light tent and playing around with getting the best even lighting on it (think setting it by a window, taking it outside, setting something reflective under it or playing around with the angle of the flaps).
Step 3: Make it pretty with a background
Perhaps take a gander at the Color Wheel, a diagram for figuring out which colors are complementary and which might clash.
The blue-yellow combination here goes pretty good, we’d say.
You can go with a piece of card stock or a color folder, even. Get more use out of those school supplies!
Place your background over the back panel and use use tape or a paperclip to keep it in place.
Step 4: Mad Props
Place it over your subject so that your subject sits in the center of your “tent.”
If you have nice cushy grass to work with, then getting it to stand on its own might be easy. If your surface is smooth, prop it up with paperweights or small hand-sized beanbags on either side of each flap.
Step 5: Get your camera ready
For this shot, Jeff used an aperture of f/5.6 and shutter speed 1/200 at 200 ISO. A low ISO worked here because the sunlight was aplenty, but if your photo looks too dark, you might need to raise your ISO to 400 or so.
Play around with your settings ’til it’s how you envisioned.
Take it further