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This is going to be a quick little instructable to showcase how you can build a diffused studio for macro / still life photography. The reason I say $2 is even if you have to buy the tissue paper and poster board you should be able to build this for about 2 bucks. All the camera equipment shown is not needed as you can even use this macro studio with desk lamps and a camera phone. The idea is to provide a neutral seamless background and diffused warm light on item being photographed.

Materials Required

  1. Cardboard Box
  2. White Tissue Paper
  3. White Poster Board

Tools Required

  • Tape
  • Something to cut cardboard with (Knife, scissors)

Step 1: Step One: Cut a Hole in the Box...

Well not really step 1, step one is getting all your materials and tools together, So I suppose step 2 would technically be cutting the holes in the box.


If you are only planning on illuminating from the sides, Cut your holes on the left and right walls. If you are going to add a top light, the third hole will be in the roof side. As you can see from my example pictures I only lit from the sides and got decent results.

Step 2 tape a single layer of tissue paper over the holes. Try not to overlap as multiple layers may add odd linear shadows that may show up in your pictures. my tissue paper was in a 32 inch width for wrapping packages.

Step 3 cut your poster board so that it is as wide as the back and bottom of your box trying not to crease or fold it as the back corner transition should be smooth to give the illusion that the background is seamless. I put a bit of tape at the top and front edge to hold it in place but the curved part is unsupported.

Step 4 (optional) I found that it was helpful to leave the side box flaps to reduce light from the side flashes going directly into the camera, This may or may not have affected the results.

Step 2: Try It Out, and Admire Your Work.

Camera Setup used.

  • YN462-II flash camera left half power 45* to subject with a card bounce at 45* up
  • YN462-II flash camera right half power 45* to subject with a card bounce at 45* up
  • Triggered with YN603c transceivers (radio flash poppers).
  • Canon T3i (body) with YN603c transceiver in the hotshoe ( thingy on top)
  • EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II (lens)
  • Aperture ƒ/6.3
  • Focal range 55.0 mm
  • 1/200 shutter speed
  • 200 ISO


Like I said earlier if you use desklamps you can adjust how they shine on what you want to take a picture of. The key is to use your imagination, add or subtract shadow. Highlight the aspect you want to showcase take your time and have fun.

I would like to dedicate this instructable to the T3i that played such an integral part. Unfortunately shortly after these pictures were taken it met an untimely demise at the hands of a Toddler. One of these days I will get another DSLR but not untill my 1yr old daughter gets a bit bigger and passes the throwing stage.

In other news the guts of a DSLR and Zoom lens are really cool... The downside is that I have a meh point and shoot that takes grainy pictures.

<p>Cool. I definitely need one of these. Thanks for sharing. :-)</p>
<p>You are most welcome. I tend to be an artistic butterfly and have as many interests as the stars. Either that or it is the ADD. Probably just the ADD and multi tasking on all sorts of stuff. </p>
<p>Ah, now I rememebr. I always forget where I left comments, and I rarely look at the user name, so when I get an email that I have a new comment, it always leaves me scratching my head for a bit...</p><p>I have been meaning to tell you that I did it, sort of. I just took a cardboard box that had one side cut out of it and lined it with some white paper towels. Then I took two of my LED flashlights and taped some parchment paper over them and set them on either side.</p><p> And it worked beautifully! Of course, the effect is not quite the same, but the photos are still pretty impressive considering they were taken with an iPad. Definitely an improvement over my earlier attempts. </p><p>Now if I could just get that Instructable finished. And get started on one of the 101 other ones I have floating around in my head... </p><p>I don't know about you but in my case, it's definitely the ADD. ;-)</p>
<p>Exactly it is a dead simple little photo hack and I really need to use it more often. I solemnly swear to take the completed shot, of the next couple projects, using a cardboard photography studio. </p>
<p>Nicely done. I need to build something like this! </p>
<p>I need to make another one. I forgot all about this untill I was diggng in a folder for a picture of my son at the same age my daughter was. And I was like Wow yeah that thing was cool. Grabbed my photog notebook and wrote it up. <br><br>I used to always take notes of camera and flash settings then write them on the backs of my prints. When I switched to digital I wrote them down in a notebook with the photo file name. </p>

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Bio: Howdy, I am a bit of a tinker gnome. I like playing with hardware/technology along with making stuff I want out of old stuff ... More »
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