Thursday, October 31, 2013

How to improve your photos

 I have been thrilled to be on the Design Team at
from the moment Lisa invited me.
The challenge this month has made me even happier to be there!
It gave me the final push to do something I've been wanting to do for quite some time and just hadn't gotten around to it.

Our challenge this month:
My craft room -- Construct a lightbox

The challenge is broken down into different parts.  They are:

Challenge Part A:
Do some online research about creating a handmade lightbox & decide which design will best suit you & your needs.  Use your research as a guide/reference & remember to give credit in your challenge post.

Challenge Part B:  
Create your lightbox; taking step-by-step photos as you go. Remember to explain each step with how you are putting it together until you have completed your project. It would also be a good idea to include a list of the supplies you have used.

Challenge Part C:  
1) Take a photo of one of your designs without the lightbox as you would have done before you created it. This is your 'before' photo.
2) Take another photo of the same design but this time inside your lightbox. This is your 'after' photo.

Challenge Part D: 
Explain your experience including: 
1) Has the lightbox helped you?  If so, how?
2) Are you using the lightbox inside the house or outside?
3) Are you using lights?  If so, what kind?
4) Tell us two tips or tricks about creating or using a lightbox.

I started this challenge in my usual place...
My search turned up a fantastic video by Pam Sparks.  You can see her video here.  The part that sold me on this design is the fact that it folds flat for storage.  Awesome, right?

Here are the step by step photos of the construction of my lightbox.

Supplies I had to purchase:
2- clamp on work lights: $6.47 each = $12.94
2- 5' lengths of 1/2" PVC pipe: $2.82 each = $5.64
4- 1/2" PVC end caps: $.27 each = $1.08
4- 1/2" PVC elbows: $.31 each = $1.24
4- 1/2" PVC t-connectors: $.24 each = $.96
1- sheet white poster board: $.50
2- Sylvania Daylight 23 w (100w replacement) light bulbs: $9.98 

Items I had on hand:
Tape measure, sharpie, pipe cutter (they cost about $8) spring clamps, white fabric (1/2 yard will be more than enough)

The total cost including estimating for the pipe cutter ($8), clamps ($2), and fabric ($2.50) is:  $44.84.  You can cut the PVC with a saw that you already have and save the cost of the pipe cutter.  Large paper binders will work in place of the spring clamps.

You will need to cut the PVC into the following lengths:
4 @ 15"
4 @ 12"
4 @ 1 1/2"

Using a pipe cutter is really simple.  You can see a video on how to use one here.  Note that this video does show cutting copper tubing but it is exactly the same technique for PVC. 

After you have all of the lengths cut, you simply assemble the lightbox in the following order:

Place elbows onto each end of a 15" piece of PVC.

Add 1 1/2" pieces into each of the elbows.

Place t-connectors onto each of the 1 1/2" pieces.

Put 15" pieces into the t-connectors.

Repeat those steps until you have a complete rectangle.

Insert the 12" pieces into the open holes of each of the t-connectors.  Also, push the end caps onto the 12" pieces.  These give a nice smooth foot to your lightbox and will help prevent scratching any table tops.

Since the pieces are just snugged together and not glued in any way, the 12" legs will swing down.  The light box is now completely flat and ready for storage.  This is the feature of the design that really sold me!

You can see here that I've just leaned the sheet of poster board up against the back bar of the PVC frame.  The work lights are clamped onto chairs.

I draped the white fabric over the PVC frame and used the spring clamps to keep in taut.

I was amazed at how simple it was to put this entire thing together!
I spent about an hour or so from start to finish...not counting the shopping time.  Even more amazing is the difference it makes in my photos.  Below you can see the before and after.

In this photo, I've used my previous method of indoor photography.  That consisted of white cloth draped on foam core lit with a very bright floor lamp directed straight at the card.  Not good.  I was constantly having to heavily edit the photos to get the color correct.
This is exactly the same card photographed in my brand new lightbox.  The only editing I've done to either picture is to crop them.  The color in this photo, by the way, is what the card looks like in person!
Now, for the final part of the challenge:
Having this lightbox is going to make my posts so much easier because the amount of time I have to spend editing my pictures will be cut dramatically.  Since I live in central Indiana and winter is quickly approaching, I'll be using this indoors.  I did have to search a little bit at Lowe's (my favorite hardware store) for the correct lights.  Pam made a point of mentioning that the light bulbs were "daylight."  I found loads of cool white bulbs but the selection of daylight is rather limited.  In all honesty, I've not tried any other type of lights with my lightbox so I can't say if they make that much difference.  All I do know for certain is that I'm over the moon crazy for the results this current set up has delivered.  I don't plan on changing a thing!

We hope you will be joining us for this month's challenge at
The difference a good lightbox can make to your photography and blog posts will astonish you.

As a huge bonus, there is a prize of $20 (Australian) that you can use at any online craft store you choose!  Just think of the digis you could get...or the awesome embellishments you could find.  Get to looking around for the lightbox that will work best for you.  You'll be so happy that you did.  I sure am!!

If you're a Facebooker, make sure to check out the Dreamtime Designs FB page.  We'd love to have you join us and discuss how your project is going.  You can come by with any questions you have about how we've made our own lightboxes too.  You'll find us here.


  1. That is really neat! I will have to make one.

    1. Melissa, I hope you do give it a try! I'm absolutely floored at the difference it's making in my photos....and the amount of time it takes me to edit my pics has been cut in half!!
      Be sure to enter your lightbox project at Dreamtime Designs Craft Challlenge for a chance to win the $20 prize!

  2. Hi Roberta,
    Wow look at you go girl! Your lightbox / tent is absolutely fantastic! I am so pleased that it was something you had been meaning to create & now you have something that 'really' works to your advantage :) Just look at the difference in both the before & after photo's. Not only is it brighter & clearer but the design is more true to the colour combo's you created it with. Magnificent Roberta! The steps to create it are very clear & even if it did cost you more than a few dollars, it will definitely be a true asset to your work, talent & designs. Thank you so much for doing such a great job with the challenge & I hope that it too will encourage your followers to try it out too. The results are too great to miss out on. Hugs, Lisa x

    Dreamtime Designs – My Blog
    NEW- Dreamtime Designs Craft Challenge
    My designs @ Etsy

  3. wow i cant believe the difference! the first pic has a real yellow tint to the card and all of a sudden your white! what a huge difference itll make to your project, and your obviously thrilled with the results too, i think youve done a great job here Roberta!

  4. Wow the difference is amazing and that card is gorgeous, even better in its true colours :) this is a fantastic tutorial resulting in a great light box, I'm sure lots of people will find this really helpful and hopefully will have a go themselves. Fantastic x

  5. Wow - it really does make a big difference! Nice job!

  6. After coming home from a hard day's work I see your beautiful project. What a marvelous idea to make your lightbox this way. And your picture, wowie, it is so much nicer with your lightbox. I will use mine a lot! Hugs, Cindy

  7. What a nice difference you light box made! The colors are so much more even and no shadows. Very nice! Great tutorial too! So glad it made such a difference for you. xxx

  8. That Is a really Neat Idea
    I might have to try this

  9. The diference between your two photos is unbelievable! I really do need to do something about taking better photos and making a light box is such a good idea.
    Thankyou for becoming a follower. I will be visiting you often for your inspiration. Hugs Mrs A.

  10. Hi Roberta.
    Really beautiful result you've made; yes, that really improve the photo quality.
    And also, beautiful card! I love every detail of this card, and how your lightbox imporoved it so much :)

    Hugs, Mikha


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