Introduction: Soft Light Box
I do a lot of amateur photography with my friends and family, and I have wanted actual photography lights for some time, but the price is asinine. So I checked out this site, and saw a couple of ideas that caught my eye. Yes, there is an instructable that I almost copied. But it was the best one, and the cheapest. I made a few alterations as needed. More will follow as I complete the mounting bracket for the tripod.
1 x Plastic tub of desired size (with lid)
2 x Light sockets
2 x Light bulbs of desired strength (The ones shown are diffused 60w bulbs)
1 x Power cord (an off off switch if you have one available. My next build will include one)
1 x Piece of white cloth to diffuse the glare from the light bulbs
1 x Glue gun
1 x Exacto knife/razor blade
1 x Soldering Iron
1 x Roll of aluminum foil
1 x Bottle of glue (I chose my kids white glue for school as it dries slowly)
Total cost: Less than $10 if you have most of the items kicking around your house.
Step 1: Gathering the Parts
I decided that keeping it simple was the best idea. So I grabbed two lights in my garage that were taking up space. I cut out the actual light socket and a length of wire. I simply exposed the wires and connected them to the power cord. Of course paying close attention to negative and positive.
Step 2: The Chasis
My lovely wife is a collector of all things plastic and tupperware, so I had no shortage of containers to choose from. I chose a deep one (versus the shallow one that gave me the inspiration) because of the heat given off by the light bulbs. With the tub chosen, I figured out where I wanted the lights to be, drew the holes and cut them. Well, not technically cut... I used a soldering iron to belt the holes. Not entirely the most professional method, but very effective.
Step 3: Creating the Reflective Interior
This is the part where you make the inside reflective to better utilize the light and focus it in the direction needed.
This was probably the most difficult part due to a lack of patience on my part when dealing with the aluminum foil. I cut the foil into manageable sheets. Taking the first sheet I applied it to the inside of the tub to get the shape I wanted. Then I took the white glue (the kind kids use in school) and applied it to where the foil would be placed in the tub. I chose this glue as it does not dry right away, and I knew that I would be needing the extra time to shape the foil as I wanted. I used my bank card to smooth the foil and spread the glue around without tearing the foil. As you can see it worked rather well.
Step 4: The Wiring
This was a no brainer. Just be careful to not electrocute yourself. I just paired the lights to run off of the same power cord, later on I will put in a power switch. I was just trying to make a working prototype this time around.
Step 5: Mounting of the Lights
This was super easy. After the wiring was completed, I put the sockets into the pre-cut holes and glue gunned them in. Since the glue dries quickly it was done in a matter of moments. Just make sure that the lights are positioned where you want them before you apply the glue. If any errors in mounting occur, you may be faced with removal of the aluminum foil... and that would just be irritating.
Step 6: The Lid
WARNING: Do not cut yourself!!!
Knowing that I would need a mount for the diffuser, I chose the lid because it made the most sense. I took an razor blade and cut the middle of the lid out. The desired size is up to you.
Step 7: Protecting the Wiring
This came to me on the fly. I was working on the diffuser and realized that the wiring was getting in my way, and I was worried that I might knock the bulbs out of the desired position. So I took a heat gun (which I normally use for reflowing X360's and PS3's) and molded the centre of the lid that I cut out. I shaped it to fit over the back of the tub. I kept it in place by using the glue gun. Not overly difficult, but time consuming. In the end, it held with amazing strength, and turned out to be a good stand when angling the light.
Step 8: The Diffuser
I just cut the white cloth to the rough size of the lid making it more manageable. I placed the cloth on top of the lid, and began using the glue gun (yet again) to hold the cloth in place. I did this slowly and incrementally so that I could keep the cloth as taught as possible. Which is very important when using the light. If the cloth has any folds or bends in it, shadows will occur when taking pictures.
Step 9: The Diffuser - Finished
As you can see the cloth is nice and tight. Here is when I trimmed the cloth down to the finished size, and glued the edges down firmly.
Step 10: Finished
Here is a good example of the working light, with and without the lid/diffuser.
My next step is to make a mount to allow for the light to sit on a tripod. Not overly difficult as far as the design goes, but the light has some weight. So a little trial and error will be needed to account for balance and avoid falling over.
Also trying different light bulbs is in order. Obviously different bulbs will cast different light and shadows.
Should anyone have any suggestions I look forward to them. Cheers.