Using window light to take photos at home is perfect when it’s available, but when it’s in short supply you need a more reliable and predictable light source. The ultimate solution is a studio flash set-up, but there’s a simpler and cheaper option: a tabletop studio.
You can set up a tabletop studio for less than a fiver using common household items and a little creativity.
Reading lamps , for instance, are convenient and cheap, but they aren’t designed for photography so the light isn’t always ideal. Point them directly at your subject and you’ll get harsh, patchy, high-contrast light.
The solution is to build yourself a mini tabletop studio so that you can take control.
What you’ll need for your tabletop studio
- A cardboard box
- Black card or paper
- Baking paper or translucent material
- White and silver reflectors
Start with a cardboard box big enough to hold your subject. Next, cut out the back of the box, leaving a small lip to ensure that it holds its shape, then cover the inside with black paper to reduce reflections and stop light from bouncing around.
Leave some extra card on the two shorter sides to use as additional shading. Now cover the back of the box with a piece of baking paper or white translucent material.
Here’s step by step how to get professional results from your tabletop studio.
Step 1: Light the background
To mimic the lighting you’d get by placing the subject by a window, we shone a reading lamp onto a wall behind the ‘studio’ to throw a soft, even light onto the paper backdrop.
Step 2: Light the foreground
We positioned a second lamp behind the card on the right-hand side of the box, and then used a silver reflector to bounce the light back onto the subject.
Step 3: Camera settings
To retain the backlit look, we increased exposure compensation by a stop and set an aperture of f/4 to blur the background. We then focused manually on the bottle.