Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Photo Studio in a Box

For my last couple of thrifty finds blog posts, I have been experimenting with a gift that my husband recently gave me for my birthday.

I generally use light coming in the windows for all of my photography of food and dishes. Unfortunately, that can be difficult (or impossible) in the evenings or during a long Canadian winter.

So, my husband thoughtfully purchased this Optex Portable Studio & Lighting Kit to help me with my photography sessions.

As the box says, it is compact, portable and easy to set up. It uses two 15-watt compact fluorescent light bulbs.

It comes with two double-sided backdrops for a background choice of blue, grey, white or chroma key green. Here is my new lamp on the green background.

And with the blue background.

Seems ideal, but there are a couple of problems. One, it is small (16 inches on each side). So, it works only for fairly small items. My mom's vintage pot, for example, didn't quite make it.

Also, many of the items I photograph have reflective surfaces. It is always difficult to work with them, because you get reflections of things you don't want in the photo (including yourself). I find that the two light bulbs in this kit are not diffused enough for some purposes. They leave a strong glow on the two sides of the item.

I ended up just photographing the pot on the kitchen table instead.

Here is the kit in its carrying case. Nice and compact.

Do you use a system like this? Do you have any secrets for enhancing its use?

One thing I wonder about is the backdrops. Four colours gets dull pretty quickly. What would you do to create some different backgrounds?

If you don't use a kit, how do you ensure proper lighting?

I am learning as I go, so any advice would be appreciated!


  1. wow what a neat little idea! i took a photography class in college and loved it but im not much help on some of the technical aspects :(


  2. Very cool! I always just use natural light, and yes it can be a pain when the days are short. This looks like fun.

  3. ohmy i want one of that too jo!!!! it does wonders to our stuff :) i use natural light too but my husband has miniature military models that he wants me to photograph nicely (i do a poor job of it) but this is absolutely helpful! thanks jo!

  4. Looks like fun! I use natural light, and it has been so cloudy the last few days I haven't been picking up the camera much.

  5. I've seen these and wondered how they work. Can you use a sheet of patterned scrapbook paper on the "floor" or back wall of the box to create some variety? I use scrapbook paper for photos a lot, but not sure if it will work in the lightbox.

    1. That sounds like a great idea. I will give it a try. It gives me an excuse to buy some fun paper too! :)

  6. I would change the fluorescents for something softer, they tend to throw yellow cast anyhow..a opaque incandescent may work better. for the background you could get background material at any camera shop or fabric shop and cut it to fit, and use velcro to secure it. I take picture of etched glass so black is always preferred. What I am not liking about what I see here is wrinkles in the fabric, which is a huge no no.

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