The MacGyver LightBox/Softbox




Introduction: The MacGyver LightBox/Softbox

A lightbox in photography it's like a blender in cooking. Sure you can do without it, but really? Can you? And obviously the results are much much better. 

Wether you liked my analogy or not, a lightbox makes better and prettier photos. Here is how I did one in just a few minutes, out of an emergency (or because someone dropped the lightbox on the floor in the middle of the shooting, breaking in a kabillion pieces ¬¬), and using already available materials around the house/studio.

I attached some photos using this lightbox, so you can see the end result in the photograph. No other light source was used in the attached photos.

Step 1: Materials

You can replace everything here with whatever materials you have in hand, this is just like a guideline.

- 2 CFL Bulbs. I used 20W ones (Equivalent to 60W of incandescent ones.)
- 1 large container.
- 2 sockets for the bulbs.
- 2 electric plugs for the sockets.
- Aluminum paper.
- Cable.


- Cutting tool. I used a dremel.
- Any glue.
- Electric juice... obviously.

Step 2: MacGyverishhh.

Drill/Cut 2 holes the size of the sockets in the container. Try to make them centered and evenly, just large enough for the socket to stay in place.

Cover the large container with aluminum, only the inside, no need to cover it entirely. Then just break the aluminum that's in the holes.

Step 3: Socketing.

Place the 2 sockets in the holes you just drilled. Glue them to the container.

NOTE : Place the sockets in a way that they don't "stick out" on the inside of the container.

Step 4: Shoot Away John.

Place the bulbs in their respective sockets and YOU. ARE. DONE!

I used only 20W with each CFL, for a total of 40W (120W incandescent). Professional lightboxes go around the 2000W incandescent, but this will get you going, enough to finish a shoot, or for normal use. 

The more CFL's you use, the more light of course. You can use 40W CFL's (120W equivalent for incandescent), or even those 60W bad ass CFL's. Or use nine 20W CFL's in a container. It's up to you, this worked perfect for me.

Have fun!

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    6 Discussions

    Great job, and the self portrait is super cool. I all-ways like to look at the author photo in books. To see the person who makes the great art I am enjoying is a what I want to see.

    Thanks for the post!
    p.s. I was a B&W photographic printer in a for 15 years before computers took over. I also was a photo assistant too. I would hold reflectors and all that jazz. One of my boss' wasWalter Barnes in Texas 87 year old and he did was portraits and wedding. He had a catch light that was a small hot light, far and high for the eyes to catch. A great touch. Another tip I like called a Daylight Fill , it just means using a flash durning the day to fill in shadows and give great skin tones. I thought your readers would like the tips as you probably already heard of them.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is a great 'ible!! I am doing this tomorrow! Thanks so much for sharing.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Here is a link to my creation. I am going to change the bulbs a few times to get a feel for the different light. Thanks for the idea to get me inspired.


    8 years ago on Step 4

    Love this idea. Making one of my own right now. Making a few alterations as needed. But loving the concept that you have! Cheers!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for reading!! Would LOVE to see your creation :), have a good day!