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Ronald McDonald House Chicago Donor Wall: Lightbox setup

How I made a lightbox to photograph a ton of miniature doors.

Photographing the RMH Doors of Hope project from start to finish will take over 18 months, culminating in May, 2012. All the miniature doors are made from a variety of materials that range from  shiny acrylic pieces to multiple layers of wood, ceramic and metal, to name a few. Capturing all of the doors consistently, so that they all look like they were lit from the same light source, initially proved to be a bit of a challenge. My solution was to set up a permanent lighting studio in my basement by creating a custom 4 x 4 foot lightbox and using two 4 foot daylight corrected florescent lights as my light source. With a few hours of trial and error, I came up with a consistent look that has saved me a ton of time pre and post production. Below, outlines the basic steps I took to get the studio up and running.

1) A 4′ x 4′ x 3″  “C” shape digital drawing was converted to a laser file which was then used to cut out  3/4 inch birch plywood to make the lightbox armature.

2) 7  yards of translucent ripstop nylon was attached as a light diffuser on 5 of the 6 sides of the lightbox armature.

3) 12 inch long threaded pipe was fitted to two 3-1/2″ diameter pipe flanges. One end of the pipe and flange was attached to a board on the back side of the lightbox and  the other end is attached to each door being photographed. This step allows for the art to be fully suspended in the middle of the lightbox, which makes for easier photoshop masking work done in post production.

4) All the doors are shot with a Canon 5D Mark 11 camera and a 24-70 mm lens. I tether shoot the doors so I can easily see the details of the work on my laptop during the shooting process.

Feel free to contact me if you would like more information about the construction or set up of the shooting process.

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