Take Better Photos With A Light Tent

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Review by MrsN posted 08-22-2010 03:22 AM 6862 views 5 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Take Better Photos With A Light Tent Take Better Photos With A Light Tent Take Better Photos With A Light Tent Click the pictures to enlarge them

This is not exactly a woodworking tool, but may be useful to some people. When taking pictures of the things we make sometimes it is hard to show off the true beauty of a piece because of the resulting photos. I am not an expert on photography, and my pictures are not perfect, but I thought I would share what I do know.

One of the things that I did that made the biggest impact on my photos was getting a light tent (some people call them light boxes or photo tents). There are lots of websites devoted to these and many have ideas on building your own units. Some are built from lumber and others from recycled cardboard. I needed something I could store and I found the CowboyStudio 12'' Photo Soft Box Light Tent Cube
The best thing about this light tent is that it is under $20, so I didn’t have to spend much to see if it would work. It also folds up flat so I can store it easily, and sets up in seconds so I can take photos when ever I am in the mood. Before I got this light tent I relied on nature for most of my lighting, I would take pictures outside when ever I had enough light to make it work. But I have a job and family so often I would end up taking pictures of things at 10:00 pm when everyone was in bed, and there is no sunlight. My basement shop is well lit for working so a few shots are not too bad, but it was hard to get a really good shot. The shear sides of the light tent allows the light coming in to be diffused and that is great for taking pictures. I use an adjustable desk lamp for the light, since it is attached to the desk I use to take pictures.

I have the 12” light tent but the company makes a 17'', 24'' and 30''. The 30” light tent runs $34 on amazon. I really like the 12” for the things that I take pictures of, but I would say that it is better to be a little big then a little small. If you were planning on photographing a lot of pens and jewelry the 12 or 17 would be big enough. If you wanted to do slightly larger projects like bowls or boxes I would recommend the larger sizes to be on the safe side.

The first photo is the stock photo from amazon of the light tent, the second is of the light tent set up on my desk, and the third is with the light on.

A few more pictures of the photo tent in use and some pictures I took with it can be found here.

Photo Set-Up

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13 comments so far

View whitedog's profile


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#1 posted 08-22-2010 03:42 AM

Thanks for the heads up on where to get one. I keep thinking I’ll build one, and I don’t know why I never learn, it’s been a couple of years now. I’m ordering one tonight , just have to pick the size.

-- Paul , Calfornia

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10880 posts in 3883 days

#2 posted 08-22-2010 04:05 AM

thank´s for the rewiew
soften the light´s and a clutterfree background is one of
the secrets to take better pictures


View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4077 days

#3 posted 08-22-2010 06:05 AM

Thanks for the review. I needed something to help get better photos of the boxes I make. I just went on Amazon and ordered the 30” cube.

View Darell's profile


436 posts in 4362 days

#4 posted 08-22-2010 08:28 AM

That’s what I’ve been looking for. Thanks for the review.

-- Darell, Norman, Ok.

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 3722 days

#5 posted 08-22-2010 07:40 PM

Thanks for the review. It is very helpful for those of us who are photographically challenged. You now have me looking into going this way to photograph boxes.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View mmh's profile


3680 posts in 4490 days

#6 posted 08-22-2010 08:56 PM

Nice review. I purchased a large version w/ table stand lights and unfortunately it doesn’t give the detail of the wood grain and illumination that I need to show off my canes and the canes are too long to fit. Even if I slit a hole through so the handle could pop up through the side, I find that the lighting is too filtered and fuzzy. I think I need an open 3 sided background with a covered lamp that won’t melt if using a hot bulb, so for now I’ll have to stick with my current set up with ceiling halogen lamps and a tabletop draped with a cloth.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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#7 posted 08-23-2010 02:06 AM

Thank you for that! I put one on order.


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#8 posted 08-23-2010 02:46 AM

My wife has started getting into jewelry making, since she’s graduating from nursing school and will finally have time to pursue a hobby :) I am definitely going to get her one of these to take pictures of the jewelry she makes, especially if she starts selling it on sites like etsy.

Thanks for the review!

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View SPalm's profile


5335 posts in 4650 days

#9 posted 08-23-2010 05:34 PM

Nice review. I received one for a gift a few months ago. It is pretty nice, but I find it takes a fair amount of light from outside the cube. You show a smaller cube than mine, with a desk lamp overhead. It seems to illuminate it quite nicely, but I don’t seem to be able to do that. I guess I need to get more/better/stronger lights. (I have tried color balanced compact floros without much luck. I do have a large Halogen that seems to do the job, but I guess I need more than one.)

So I have resorted to using it outside, where I get seem to get pretty good results with the sun shinning right down on it. I get glare free pics this way, so all is good. I would recommend this approach for an easy setup. But winter is approaching, so I need to get on the light search.

Thanks again,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

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#10 posted 08-23-2010 07:18 PM

It sounds like a great idea, especially for small objects.

-- "The unexpected, when it happens, generally happens when you least expect it."

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#11 posted 08-27-2010 04:55 AM

Great review, thanks!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

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#12 posted 10-30-2010 07:51 PM


View Don Johnson's profile

Don Johnson

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#13 posted 11-15-2010 01:30 PM

I wish I had seen this when my wife was making enamel jewellery before we retired. I found that it was almost impossible to get good pics of very shiny enamelled items – natural light or flash, but the tent looks as though it would have done the trick. She is going to get the equipment out again soon to make some Ladies Night presents, so perhaps I’ll buy a tent and try getting some good pictures of her work for posterity!

-- Don, Somerset UK,

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