If you like to just shoot photography on the go, then all you really need is a good camera and the right lens and filters. However, if you like to photograph items for your business, or to sell online, you probably need a few more items to really make your photography pop – and this DIY light table will to just the trick.
DIY light table
As camera technology improves at a rapid pace and becomes more affordable, more people find themselves getting into the hobby of photography. Are you one of those people? Whether it’s simply a personal hobby or you’re learning photography to enhance your business, you’ve probably read a lot of things about what you really need to have to support your photography habit.
One thing that really comes in handy for product or food photography is a still life photography light table. It makes it easy to take photographs in any light situation. I know from personal experience how challenging it can be to take photographs on a cloudy day in a house that gets very little natural light.
A still life photography light table can change all of that. Unfortunately, many of them are out of the price range of amateur photographers. If you are the do it yourself type, however, you just might be in luck. With a little bit of time and skill – and the right materials – you can make your very own DIY light table to help you take your photography to the next level, inspired by Craftsman Club.
This one addition to your photography arsenal could eliminate the need for expensive lights for your indoor photography. You can even use it as a tracing table for any art projects you may be working on too!
To get started, you’ll need these tools and supplies:
- Speed Square
- 2 1/2″ Screws
- Hand or power saw
- 4′ Shop lights
- Daylight Balanced florescent bulbs
Step 1: Get your materials together
You’ll want to start by making sure you have all of the tools and supplies on the list above. While this tutorial is for a 24” x 48” DIY light table, you can easily customize it to any size you need. Just adjust the measurements accordingly before you start.
Tip – Flex those eco-friendly muscles by locating lumber and lights you already own.
Step 2: Make all of your cuts
Now that you have all of your materials, you’ll need to start making your cuts. You’ll need to make the following cuts if you’re making a 24” x 48” light table.
- Two 51” 2x4s, which will be used as the back legs
- Two 31” 2x4s, which will be used as the front legs
- Four 42” 1x4s, which will be used as the side cross supports
- Five 24” 1x4s, which will be used as the front and back cross supports
- Four 24” 1x2s, which will secure the surface to the frame
Step 3: Build the frame
If you can, grab a friend to help you with this part of the construction process. Make sure you have plenty of space available as you’ll want to build your photography light table on the floor so it’s easier to keep it stable and steady. You’ll need clamps or, if you don’t have any, a friend with a firm grip to help you keep the boards squared up with the frame so your photography light table comes out well structured. This project will be hard to complete on your own if you don’t have good clamps.
To start, you’ll need to attach the 1x4s on the outside of the legs. It’s best to build the sides first by attaching the side cross supports to the legs. After you attach the side cross supports to the legs, you’ll then attach the sides together with the front cross support pieces. Next, attach one set of your 1x4s about 31 inches up the back legs so that they’re aligned with the top of the front legs. The other set of 1x4s will need to be attached about halfway between the ground and the previous set you just attached. The leftover 24″ piece will need to be attached near the top of the back legs. It doesn’t have to be precise – it will be based upon how tall you want the back of the plexiglass surface to be. Unlike the other pieces, you’ll secure this final piece on the inside of the legs.
Step 4: Attach the surface
Again, for this part of the construction process, you’ll want a good set of clamps to help you along. If you don’t have any, your friend that has a firm grip will work as well. Use your clamps or friend to secure the 1x2s to the top of the plexiglass surface on the front and back of your frame to create a smooth curved surface. Doing this right will make sure you end up with an appearance of infinite white space in your photography. You’ll want to drill through the plexiglass and wood at the same time to prevent the plexiglass from splitting. If you don’t have plastic bits, that’s okay – metal will work. After you finish drilling the holes, screw the front and back 1x2s into the frame. Then repeat these same steps again for the sides of the plexiglass surface for your remaining 1x2s.
Step 5: Attach your shop lights
Now that you have your frame built and your plexiglass surface attached, it’s time to attach your shop lights for the final step. Since the frame is on the smaller side, you can simply rest your shop lights on the lower cross supports. However, if you plan to move your frame around at all, it’s a good idea to screw your shop lights into the frame. Taking this extra step will help make sure everything stays where it should when you move your photography light table around.
Step 6: Time to take some photos!
Now that you have your own DIY light table, you won’t need to spend money on pricey studio lights. Your table should give you the same color temperature as a north-facing window, so your photos will look professional and clear. Enjoy your new addition to your photography hobby!
What other DIY ideas have you seen for amateur photographers?
Feature image credit – JGA / Shutterstock