Picture of Budget photographic lighting
Improve your table-top photography dramatically, at almost no cost, by modifying a cheap, readily available plastic bucket.
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Step 1: On-camera flash (strobe)

Picture of On-camera flash (strobe)
This is what most on-camera or built-in flash (strobe lighting) will produce. It doesn't show the product in a good light, literally. You can't see what this little ornament is really made of.

Mail order specialists and online trading experts all agree: good pictures boost sales.

You can improve your own photos of small items quickly and easily, using exactly the same principles as professional photographers, but you don’t have to invest in an expensive light tent to do it.

Step 2: Find a suitable bucket

Picture of Find a suitable bucket
Take an ordinary, cheap household plastic bucket, as near to white in colour as you can find. The thinner the better.

Mine cost one pound in England. You should be abe to buy one for a Euro, or a Dollar, elsewhere.

Step 3: Cutaway

Picture of Cutaway
Cut out a smooth, gentle curve to make the front opening. This is what you will be shooting through.

I used scissors: the plastic was very soft.
photoman0225 years ago
brilliant! so simple yet so brilliant. Thank you!
peterbryenton (author)  photoman0225 years ago
Thank you.

More tips in the "Technique" category of my blog at

oncex6 years ago
NICE!!! I will go and get one of those cheapo dollar store buckets because I'm sure they will be thinner and cheap :D
Neat, a photobucketphotobucket.
peterbryenton (author)  Doctor Popular8 years ago
Witty, thanks. I'd like to know how the econoimcs of "free" web hosting works. Who pays for it?
The Advertisers pay. The site, for example, photobucket, contacts certain sites, sometimes as an Affiliation. So photobucket will put an ad up for other websites, lets just say In exchange for an Ad on photobucket, will pay photobucket for link related statistics. It all depends on the "affiliate" site; some base it on how many views were on a page containing their link so if you visit photobucket and an ad is displayed for, then photobucket is credited by some base it on how many times the link was clicked (or like those ringtone ads, how many people interacted with it) like if you were on photobucket, and saw an ad for and clicked on it, going to their site some base it in a referrall way, as how many people were linked to the site and then registered or purchased something on the site your on photobucket, you click the link, and sign up. or linked to amazon, and bought something most of it is in linking, There may be other ways to earn money, I wouldnt put down any other ideas of how money is generated, but Im pretty sure the primary way is linking,
peterbryenton (author)  Jesus105558 years ago
Thanks for your explanation.
yeah, no problem
Brobru8 years ago
Semi - related question. Where did you get the guitar clock?
peterbryenton (author)  Brobru8 years ago
It was probably from a local gift shop. Send me a private message if you want me to look into getting you one.
That is really nice, unfortunately all my buckets are full of parts.
I suppose all of us inventor / constructor types are basically hoarders too {;)
cheapgeek8 years ago
Nice- much better than the one gallon milk jug I was using..
peterbryenton (author)  cheapgeek8 years ago
I never saw one of these until my first trip to The 'States. Then I really understood that "Joey drinks a gallon of milk in 10 seconds" scene from "Friends". (Our UK gallons are larger than USA ones).
Jezza Bear8 years ago
This is a really great idea and especially useful for some of the other members of this forum for demonstrating their work, i will certainly be trying this out, although I do not have a posh lamp like you. On the subject of colour temperature and the use of tungsten and fluorescent light. When i was younger I used a blue filter for tungsten and a pink/red for fluorescent. Will the colour of the bucket make a difference or is it best to do filters from the lamp or from the camera?
peterbryenton (author)  Jezza Bear8 years ago
Thank you. You don't need a posh lamp: people only ever see the end result. As for colour balance, as long as the bucket doesn't produce an obvious colour cast, a digital camera ought to make an acceptable picture. With film, it's more important to match things, so some filtering may be needed. Filters are cheaper when used at the lamp head (use only heatproof gels, allowing plenty of room for ventilation) or more expensive glass over the camera lens (optical quality). Using mixed lighting, where two or more lamps of differing colour temperatures are on (say an angelpoise lamp using a tungsten bulb, together with a fluorescent source) obviously cannot be balanced with one lens filter. If you use film, perhaps you could use a video camera or your phone camera beforehand, just to get a rough idea of how the setup is behaving.
peterbryenton (author)  peterbryenton8 years ago
Oops, just noticed my new invention: an angelpoise lamp. Sounds heavenly, but that should, of course, read "anglepoise".
Thanks I was a keen 35 mm camera hobbyist for about 25 years before I got my digicam but was more landscape, so this is a great tip.
peterbryenton (author) 8 years ago
P.S. No lamps required, if you're lucky enough to live in sunny climes - just take the bucket outside and position it appropriately!
theres an outside?
peterbryenton (author)  theRIAA8 years ago
Heh-heh: there's not much of a one in England in January!