Introduction: Hamper Light Box

Picture of Hamper Light Box

We had a simple need. When you run a theatre company, it is best to know what you have in your props and costume inventory. Clothing can be registered on a spreadsheet, photographed on mannequins or actors. But smaller items need special attention.

So we built a lightbox. From an IKEA hamper.

This lightbox is portable, inexpensive, and when you're not using it for photography ... well ... who doesn't need a laundry hamper?

What will you need for this Hamper Light Box?

Well, there's the hamper. This is the SKUBB from IKEA. It is described as a "Laundry Bag with Stand," and it comes in two colors. Seeing as this is meant to be a light box, go with White.

In addition, you're going to need a medium-sized safety pin, a 1.25" binder clip, a small desk lamp ... and your choice of either a sheet of poster board (white, 24" x 36") or a piece of drawing paper (white, 22" x 30").

Oh, and a tripod.

For the camera, of course, because photography is the point, after all. (My tripod is a Proline by Dolica, but any tripod will do.)

To review:
- hamper (SKUBB from IKEA)
- medium-sized safety pin
- 1.25" binder clip
- small desk lamp
- sheet of poster board (white, 24" x 36") or piece of drawing paper (white, 22" x 30")
- tripod

Step 1: Prepare the Hamper

Picture of Prepare the Hamper

The SKUBB hamper is collapsible. As such, it comes flat in a plastic bag. But as with all things IKEA, ten seconds alone with the SKUBB is enough to realize that you have two wire-braced reinforcements attached to the base of the hamper. These unfold and are secured by velcro flaps. Now we have a box, so we'll refer to it as such.

Turn the box on the side. At this point, it looks more like a light box, but we're not done.

The box has a weighted fabric lid that will now be on either the left or right side of the box's opening. We could let this hang open, but why not be tidy? So roll the lid around its weight.

Roll the lid tight and secure it to the side of the opening with your binder clip.

You'll only need the one.

Step 2: The Divider Is in the Way

Picture of The Divider Is in the Way

What is this thing?

There is a divider here. It makes the box (or hamper) all the more convenient by providing two compartments for your befouled linens. But for our purposes, this divider is a nuisance. And look at that unsightly tag.

Yes, you could dive into the box and go at it with a handy X-Acto knife or Leatherman tool, but let's not dash the SKUBB's dreams of fulfilling its household destiny.

Using your safety pin, secure the divider to the "roof" of the box.

There. No harm, no foul, and the divider is out of our way.

Step 3: Your Box Needs a Floor

Picture of Your Box Needs a Floor

Get your drawing paper. Or your poster board. (I took the drawing paper route.)

Place the paper on the bottom of your box, curving up the right side -- though in the illustration, you see my initial "half pipe" execution. Depending on the weight you selected, your thicker-than-usual drawing paper might be more or less cooperative. I found my $1.49 30" x 22" slab of cotton bond particularly friendly.

Step 4: Light It Up

Picture of Light It Up

Introduce the desk lamp to your box. This is where you have all kinds of free reign. My desk lamp may not be like your desk lamp. I would recommend a smaller desk lamp, as we don't want to burn a hole through our box or give your photography subject a suntan.

Place the desk lamp next to the box, aimed at the left wall. Don't place it too close, again because of that pesky burning possibility -- remote as this possibility might be.

Step 5: Aim and Fire

Picture of Aim and Fire

Place the tripod in front of the box, attach your camera and turn on the desk lamp.

Now you have a Hamper Light Box.

It's good for toys.

... or keys.

... or most anything.

It's not perfect, but it works.

Comments

jimgrit (author)2014-09-16

As an employee of IKEA and a fellow photographer.. No worries folks. we have a whole line of SKUBB products that will work for this project with minor modifications. Thanks and keep on sharing!

DECOR8Rgirl (author)2014-05-12

they no longer sell that hamper. Bummer.

guitarman63mm (author)2009-02-22

I think that you should be somewhat level with the object, otherwise it simply looks as though you put it on a piece of paper. The point of it is to get a seamless backdrop and a shadowless object, right?

Like I said, this is not perfect. Just something simple, costing less than $15 (and items you might have around the house). That said, how could I improve it?

Oh no, I didn't mean the soft box itself. I meant the angle that you shoot the picture at. Normally the picture is shot with the camera at an angle where you would normally see the "horizon", for lack of a better term. The box is meant to make sure the background is devoid of irregularities like creases, corners etc. Without the correct angle, it looks as though you shot it on plain 'ole computer paper! Not knocking your 'ible, just saying to fix the photos. Cheers!

ndsit (author)guitarman63mm2009-08-12

The optimum way to take these photos is at a 30 degree angle, I paid for a professionally made light box and lights and everything I have read up on this (including the instructions for the light box) recommend that angle. Instead of paper/card at the bottom of the box you can buy and use more of the white material the rest of the box is made from. This way the background blends out and doesn't attract your attention at all.

robots199 (author)2009-02-22

Not to sound stupid or anything: Why is the paper at the bottom not flat?

richelton (author)robots1992009-02-22

Appearance. Angles, corners and creases would result in visual "clutter" that would detract from the image composition.

robots199 (author)richelton2009-02-23

thanks!

Lftndbt (author)2009-02-23

Dude, are you serious? There is no way you cme up with this!! That's awesome...

flightsofideas (author)2009-02-22

Looks a lot nicer than my beer carton light tent ;-) I may have to upgrade...

qwertyboy (author)2009-02-22

this is a really cool idea. i might use this for taking pictures for my Instructables.