For many years I’ve been struggling to produce consistently good photographs of origami. Despite having a decent camera (Canon EOS400d) the lighting has always been a problem. Inspired by some wonderful photos by Rebecca Harris, I got in touch with her to pick her brains.

Amongst other useful information, she sent me to a site explaining how to make your own lightbox. I had the required materials lying around, so knocked one up. The results were instantly a great deal better. I need some sidelights to help knock out the remaining shadow, but it’s looking good!

6 Responses

  1. Thanks for this post. I’m also very interested in this subject, specially since I prefer photo-diagrams. I haven’t ever tried a lightbox and I still ask myself if it is worth it. Why would you say a lightbox is important? Personally I don’t see the problem with a model producing a shadow. Is it unacceptable, in terms of aesthetics, for it to cast a shadow? I think shadows help understand forms better, which I would say is pretty important in photo-diagramming.

    I just use white card stock as the floor and another one as background, a directional lamp with a daylight lightbulb, and ambient fluorescent light.

    1. Hard to say, but I guess it’s about control and consistency – given a light-box you can almost guarantee to get a decent image, placing it on card with a single light it’s less certain. Also, the sides of the box diffuse the light. Anyone else have an opinion?

  2. Yes, it’s all about diffusing a lot of light from a broad range of angles. Keeping one side somewhat dominant (usually from above) tends to improve results too, it gives models more depth. As a quite mediocre photographer, I still get decent shots with three economy lamps (5600K), one on each side and one above from an angle.

  3. I’m so glad this worked for you, Nick! Gerardo, I do like origami pictures with shadows, too. Thanks for your tip and also gachepapier. Rebecca

  4. Thanks for sharing this DIY article… I’ve been going crazy trying to get shadow-free–or at least less shadowed–pictures. Such a simple solution that I wanted to smack myself for not thinking of it myself!

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