Easy Workbench Photo Backdrop




About: I've worked for Instructables off and on since 2006 building and documenting just about everything I enjoy doing. I am now the Creative Programs founder and manager for Autodesk and just finished building o...

Say you make all kinds of things at your workbench and you have a need for taking high quality photos of everything that you do, well then you're in need of an easy workbench photo backdrop!  This backdrop costs very little money (as photo backdrops go), is industrial strength due to it's heavy duty spring clamps and cast iron pipe hanging rod, and will improve the quality of your photos immensely!  I'm really happy with how it's improved my photos, even though it's only using simple fluorescent lights fixtures as a main light source.

This project, among other things, was inspired by Randofo.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

The backdrop is constructed from:
To install it you simply need a drill, screws and some cleaner to wipe the pipe down with.

The lights are technically not part of the backdrop, but they are just simple 4' x 2 bulb fluorescent fixtures.  The bulbs are 32 Watt Cool White (4100K) tubes.  I prefer the 4100k to the 5000k color temperature.  For some reason the 5000k light is very very sterile and bright white.  A little yellow actually softens things just a bit.

Step 2: The Backdrop

The backdrop is simply a roll of paper that's being sold as a photo backdrop.  If you can find a roll of heavy bond printer paper for large format printers you might be able to save some money since the roll will be much much longer and probably sell for the same price.  But, the photography store had this stock, so I just went for it.  

Step 3: Assemble Cast Iron Pipe

Assemble the elbows onto the long piece of pipe.  Attach the 6" nipples, and then finally, screw on the flanges.  Making things hand tight is fine.

Step 4: Wipe Off Oil Finish With Alcohol

Use denatured alcohol to take the oil finish off of the pipe.  Otherwise, you'll touch the pipe, then touch the backdrop, and then ruin your nice white paper with your oily fingerprints.  

Step 5: Screw in Pipe Flanges

Screw the pipe flanges into a surface.  Either the wall, or the shelf above your workbench, or whatever works.

Step 6: Slide on Backdrop

Unscrew the main pipe from the elbow fittings and slide the backdrop into place.  Screw the main cross pipe back into position.

Step 7: Retain With Spring Clamps

Use the spring clips to hold the paper roll in place and tightly wound when the backdrop is being store.  

Use the spring clips to clip the backdrop paper to your work surface when the backdrop is in use.

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    8 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Great idea and tutorial...looking forward to implementing this above my photo bench...thanks.

    Guys, i've been hunting the internet for a solution to a problem i have. I might not be using the right words, but i am just not able to find out, and hope you guys can guide. I have a work bench that i am using. Now, i build stuff on it, primarily new things, you know home inventions sort of thing. I want to document everything i do, in the case that i want to retrace my steps. However, i am not sure how to setup a camera, over my desk you know, that i can move about parallel to the surface of the bench, maybe pan in or out, and take a snap. This way, i can ensure the photo is devoid of vibrations, and skew issues. I need to be able to just hold it, position it right over a model that i finished and press something, preferabbly no the camera, to click a snap. And then maybe even directly have that stored on a system. Any thoughts?

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I still have massive toolshop envy. Your space was amazing.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice job Noah, I have a home-made backdrop setup in my shop. I'd suggest adding some white fabric or plastic (like the cheap kind you get at a party supply store to cover picnic tables) below the lights for a filter. It softens the light and makes sure your images aren't too "hot." I use soft fluorescent bulbs in aluminum can work lights with a clamp so they are easy to reposition and I added plastic shower caps over them for a filter. The fluorescents and aluminum don't get hot enough to melt the plastic.

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice! If I would have enough space for a workbench, I would totally build this.