Lampshade Light Tent

vertical light tent setup
Jellybean inspects the lampshadeHere’s a cheap and easy way to deal with getting rid of pesky reflections, shadows and backgrounds in your small object photography: use a lampshade for a light tent.

This $6 lampshade from IKEA is white, nearly cylindrical, and has an adjustable (removable) mounting bracket, all of which make it easily adaptable to this purpose.

Scale disclaimer: objects in this photo are larger than they appear – the cat is unreasonably large.

lampshade - with holeLight tents and light boxes are great for diffusing shadows and reducing reflections in photography. However, commercially available ones can be quite expensive. There are many sets of instructions for homebuilt ones out there. They generally involve creating a light diffuser and a seamless backdrop.

A lampshade is already a diffuser (we’re just using it inside-out) and the curved surface provides the seamless background. The only modification needed is to cut a hole in the side to make an opening for the camera lens.

horizontal light tent setup
The lampshade can be put on its side with the camera looking down from above. The object being photographed sits inside on the floor of the shade. Camera looking into vertical light tentAlternately, the shade can be vertical with the camera peering in from the side. The object can be placed on a freestanding pedestal or on the mounting bracket that came with the shade.

lampshade light tent test   lampshade light tent testSB 281   SB 281

Some quick test photos in both orientations with super balls showed very little reflection with minimal effort at light placement, and the curved background worked extremely well. A stand placed on the hanging bracket helped to obscure it when photographing in vertical orientation.

One additional benefit of this light tent is that it prevents our photography assistant (also pictured above) from interfering with our shots. She enjoys being the center of attention and lying under the nice warm lamps, so she often infringes on the picture taking process. With this new setup, she can lie right next to the lampshade/light tent without disturbing the photographer or subject.

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6 thoughts on “Lampshade Light Tent

  1. Woohoo! That’s a neat and simple method. I like the way that fishbowl turned out (though there’s a bit of a reflection on the eyeball.)

    Hmmm … D’ya think I can stuff a cat inside and photograph it too? They expand, after all … :P

  2. If you think that’s a big housecat, take a look at the photo on this page.

    (For those who don’t quite get the joke: powerbooktech.com sells parts for Mac laptops. The page above is from their parts catalog!)

    • A simpler and less expensive light tent can be made from a plastic one-gallon milk jug. Cut off the entire bottom, and enough of the top to let your camera lens fit through… et voila! The translucent plastic makes a pefect diffuser.

  3. wow! just linked to this from Ikeahacker.
    This is freakin’ awesome. I am going to have to try this to photograph the small jewelry that I make. Thank you!

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