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Hints and tips on photographing your models and dioramas.
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Light tent experiment

January 14th, 2012, 10:42 pm

I have heard many great things about the benefits of a light tent in small-objects photography. An arts store near my home is selling small collapsible tents for a reasonable price, but I wanted to experiment before I invested in one. So I built my own out of a cardboard box into which I cut large openings on the top, front, and sides. I covered the openings with two layers of white tissue, like the kind used in gift packing. I then inserted a piece of blue card with a slight curve to cover the bottom and back sides of the interior of the box. For lighting I used two desk cheap desk lamps with soft white bulbs. I venture that a daylight bulb would work even better.

Here is the set up

and here are two photos of the same model against the same background, and with the same lights. Mind, that both photos are also augmented with the same "Autocolor" and "Autolevels" functions in Photoshop 7.0.

First, without the tent.

and now with the light tent.

The differences are not immediately apparent, but the light tent photo picks up subtleties (and mistakes) in the finish which the direct light photo does not capture. This was done with a simple set up using materials I already had around the house. It took 15 minutes to build, and even without Photoshop picture augmentation, the improvement in the photographs is notable. Definitely worth a go.

Re: Light tent experiment

January 14th, 2012, 10:52 pm

Besides the undershadow being more diffuse, what is immediately apparent is just how better lit the fin and port side is.


Re: Light tent experiment

January 16th, 2012, 2:27 pm

Thanks for doing the experiment, the tent produces a notably better picture, like Merlin said the port side is better lit and I believe the colour is more even across the whole model. I will have to build myself one now, thanks for that mate. ;-)

Re: Light tent experiment

January 16th, 2012, 3:02 pm

A great idea, though I'd be a little concerned about the chance of the tissue catching fire from the heat of the lamps if they are too close for too long.

Re: Light tent experiment

January 16th, 2012, 11:51 pm

I used baking paper for my cardboard light box, http://gregers.7.forumer.com/viewtopic.php?t=13895 the baking paper is good to lots of heat..

Re: Light tent experiment

December 1st, 2012, 5:28 pm

People might like to see my post, dated 1 December 2012 describing my recent experiments:


The pics at the beginning of the thread are good.

The light tent that I have is big enough, I think, for a 1/48 scale Spitfire, but it would be a little cramped for a 1/48 Lancaster which has a wingspan of about 17".

Re: Light tent experiment

October 30th, 2013, 8:12 pm

I really must take more care in my photos. Currently just using A: Natural light. B: A flash with a piece of tissue as a diffuser. C: My model light.

I need to spend some time photoshopping too. Some of the photos that I've seen here and other forums are pretty bloomin' good.

Re: Light tent experiment

October 30th, 2013, 8:50 pm

Chuck E wrote:Some of the photos that I've seen here and other forums are pretty bloomin' good.

My photos rarely come out very well, just the occasional one. As you say some people take excellent photos, and it really shows their models off well. The light tent is an interesting idea, might have to give it a try.

Re: Light tent experiment

October 30th, 2014, 8:57 pm

Looks like a good idea. I experimented with a light tent but it's a bit big and awkward. I almost got a smack in the chops unfolding it the first time, much to Mrs Dazzled's amusement. This one seems much more manageable.
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