“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth and you will know the key to photography”
When I was first starting this blog I had a clear idea how I wanted the photography to look. I wanted the photos to show every model against a plain white background. This would give the origami designs a chance to stand out on their own. By and large I think I’ve achieved this, and now one of the questions I get asked the most is how I photograph my models. The answer is that I made a light box.
I am not great at photography. I don’t have lots of complicated equipment – I don’t even have a DSLR camera. So I take all of the photos for this blog using a home-made light box and the camera on my iPhone. By using a light box, you can improve the quality of your origami photography without spending money on an expensive camera and lots of accessories.
What is a Photography Light Box?
A light box is a way of setting a subject (in this case, origami) against a chosen background and lighting it in a way that disperses shadows and illuminates the subject effectively. You can buy lightboxes online for anywhere between £30 and £300, but you can make your own for less than that and it will work just as well.
Requirements for Making a Light Box
To make a Light Box, you will need:
- A cardboard box – this should be big enough to house the largest model you are planning to photograph, and reasonably deep so you can control the amount of light coming in
- Two lamps with adjustable heads – desktop lamps will do
- Two daylight simulation bulbs – one for each lamp
- White paper – at least as wide as the box and at least twice as long
- White tissue paper
The hardest thing to get hold of will be the daylight simulation bulbs, but you can order these online for £2 – £5 each.
Making the Light Box
Using the light box
- Arrange the lamps either side of the light box, shining in through the windows on the side – as in the above picture
- Alternatively, point the lights in the top to illuminate your subject from above
- Place the origami model in the middle of the light box on top of the paper that forms the backdrop and floor of the light box. Then, adjust the position of the lamps to illuminate the model and reduce the amount of shadow
- Take the photo!
Editing your image
Despite your best efforts, sometimes you will need to correct the picture after you have taken it – either to remove an unsightly shadow, or to brighten the image slightly. I do this on my iphone, using an app called SnapSeed. It’s free and easy to use. Explaining how to use SnapSeed is beyond the scope of this article, but there is a very good series of articles available here.
Do you use a light box for your origami photography or do you have other tips that you’d like to share? Please feel free to get in contact, either by commenting below, or you can find me on Instagram or Twitter.
Thanks for reading!