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Boxing cleverer


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Boxing cleverer

20 Aug 2021 12:07PM   Views : 756 Unique : 355


Last year, I spent some money on having a model box designed and built. Iíve seen them around in various places, containing a variety of models both large and small. The challenge was to decide just how big it should be, and then to find a way to make it so that it could be taken apart and transported in a car. This wasnít actually a simple as Iíd assumed: even a large estate car canít swallow a 4-foot cube.

Construction materials were difficult as well: the obvious thing is to use MDF, but this would be both heavy and relatively fragile. In the end the friend who made it for me used a lightweight plywood, and constructed it with such precision that the four sides are entirely interchangeable, and the back fits on in any orientation. The box isnít actually a cube, and it is less deep and it is wide and high. Partly, the depth isnít necessary: but mainly this allows the sides to fit into the car. The back is in two pieces which push together using locating dowels.


Very unfortunately, I had the box made late last summer, which meant that I used it once before the winter of lockdown. Iíve now used it twice on successive days in different places, and Iím finding that the designerís assertion that you can assemble it in 20 minutes is right, and that taking it apart is equally quick.

Would I do anything different if I was doing it again? Maybe it would be a little bit smaller, but I know several rather tall models and I didnít want to cramp the style. I might also do some market research to see if my idea of hiring it out to studios is viable. (Though I still want to try this once Iíve used it a few times. My idea is that I would leave it at a studio, and they would make it available to their customers at a fixed charge per session. When I was thinking about having a box built I found one studio but already had one, and they charged £50.00 for using it, which I thought was excessive. £10.00 to £20.00 seems much more reasonable and realistic.)


A few practicalities. Unless you use exceptionally good and well-corrected lenses, expect some bowing, even with a box that doesnít bend at all. And if your camera position isnít perfectly central, you may need to play with perspective and the warp tool. I find lightening shadows tends to improve the images, even if the shadows donít actually need lighting. Thereís a lot to experiment with yet!

All thoughts welcome. Images of Amber Belle at mistereís pop-up studio, Bobby Castle courtesy of another Dave, and Zenith at her own studio space.


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2063 England
20 Aug 2021 12:08PM
The three top images have been minimally edited: the final picture, of Amber Belle, has been tweaked to lose the seam in hte back of the box.
cooky Avatar
cooky Plus
19 7 11 United Kingdom
20 Aug 2021 12:15PM
Not that I do model photography but I would like a go in that box! Small spaces are very Feng Shui and so comforting...

chase Avatar
chase Plus
18 2.6k 684 England
20 Aug 2021 12:17PM
Looks more 'complete' without the seam John.
You are going to have some fun with that methinks, lighting possibilities must be endless !
So if it is totally interchangeable, could you paint the outside black, reconstruct the other way around, thus giving you a black box ?
JackAllTog Avatar
JackAllTog Plus
14 6.4k 58 United Kingdom
20 Aug 2021 1:08PM
Really impresses me that this is able to be dismantled to more it. Regarding the seam could a cloth backdrop be used instead of the 2 rear panels, or is this integrall to the box's stability?
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2063 England
20 Aug 2021 3:18PM
Sadly, the sides are interchangeable but not reversible... Although it could possibly be done with a little risk of damage to the surface of the box (the setscrews that hold the sides on have little recessed areas for their heads on the outside). It might be interesting to give it a try, just to see... I am pretty sure the precision of the metal threads that the screws engage with is sufficient that being 'back to front' wouldn't spoil the alignment.

The back panel provides a great deal of structural integrity, and prevents the box distorting with pressure on the side: at one point, we contemplated a plastic alternative back to allow backlighting the subject, but it would be too big to transport in a car, being around four feet square. It would also be more liable to get scratched - the paint finish is quite tough and durable.Again, something temporary would be feasible...

Kath - I'll bring it on tour in Yorkshire...
cooky Avatar
cooky Plus
19 7 11 United Kingdom
20 Aug 2021 9:36PM
John, no use, just over the border in Lancashire but I will travel to have a go in the box!
Robert51 Avatar
Robert51 15 14 147 United Kingdom
21 Aug 2021 8:55AM
I would like to say your thinking out side the box, but it's the other way round. I can see the draw of such a prop like having people holding up a picture frame, if nat as easy to carry.
Like Janet I was wondering if you have tried various coloured lights with the box and how the reflections play with that light.
Look forward to seeing lots more...
P_A_D Avatar
P_A_D 16 10 England
23 Aug 2021 8:18PM
I appreciate that this is 'your' box John.
But I wouldn't expect to pay an additional hire fee for props in a studio, unless something very unique.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2063 England
24 Aug 2021 10:52AM
As I wrote, Paul, the only one I found in a studio attracted a £50 hire fee.

I may have overestimated others' interest in the idea - but it remains available if anyone wants to use it... It would be open to a studio to borrow it as an additional attraction, and simply pay me a flat fee. I haven't tested this out yet because of the uncertainties of Covid, but should now give it a whirl...

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