Instructables
Picture of Photography lights on a budget
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What's common between lamps in photography and clamps in workshop?
There's never enough of either.

However, both of these can be unforgiving on the contents of your wallet (or bank account). That's the reason I set out to make a pair of lamps for lighting my pictures using mostly the materials I already had at home.

Since most of the materials I used for making these I already had (disassembled old lamps I used before and did some digging in the garage), the material list is more for the general idea and understanding, rather than a must have. I was making 2 lamps, so if you see double the stuff you think you need for a single lamp in a picture you're most likely right.

 
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Step 1: Materials and tools you might want to have

Picture of Materials and tools you might want to have
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Materials:

Some thin plywood to help cardboard maintain form;
Small piece of wood/plywood around 20mm thick (for tripod triangles);
Wood/plywood strip wide enough to make holes for sockets, thick enough to screw something to the end;
Piece of wood around 40mm thick for angled blocks;
Wooden poles for tripod legs (check the garden section);
Both thin (hand bendable) and thicker metal plates with holes (or D(rill)IY);
Lightbulbs: I used 15W non dimmable CFLs because they are bright and I got them for ~2$ a piece;
Sockets, cables, switches and anything else you need for the electrical part;
Some rope (or bike tube in my case) to hold the tripod together;
Various screws, bolts and nuts;
White paper/aluminium foil for reflectors;
Cardboard boxes for reflector carcasses;

Take into account that thin metal profiles could be used in place of most wooden parts and would probably make the end result even lighter. Just use what you have.

Tools:

Your hands and head;
Saw;
Drill;
Screwdriver;
Angle grinder (or anything to cut and grind metal);
Workbench (or clamps, if you don't have one, like me);
Stapler (don't have a proper one, would've saved some time);
Paper glue and clear tape;
X-acto knife or scissors;
Hot glue gun;

domenic31 month ago

coooool

alcurb2 months ago
Very nicely done!

I find that if you were to choose a CFL bulb, to specifically choose one with 5500k color temperature. It will give you the best white balance requiring less color manipulation in post processing. They are often referred to as "day light" or "natural white" but you need to know the color temperature because to the vendor those terms can mean different things. For the more advanced photographers another value to consider is the CRI value which tells you how well the various colors of the subject is illuminated. High CRI means great color rendition.
Raitis (author)  alcurb2 months ago
Thanks for the input, this will certainly help many!
I guess mine are 2700K, will check when I'm back home and maybe get other bulbs for comparison.
Never seen a CRI indexed, but maybe that's because of the fact I never looked for it.
Soupraok3 months ago
what bulbs did you use?
Raitis (author)  Soupraok3 months ago
15 watt warm white CFLs
wilgubeast Raitis2 months ago

What bulbs would you recommend?

Raitis (author)  wilgubeast2 months ago

I assume that cold white bulbs would result in less adjustments to pictures later on, but that's an assumption. Following that idea I'd go for a cold white CFL or LED of 10 watt or more in power. Just look for the best deal around.

Talking about wattage, I'm from Europe and use 220V power supply, so it might be that the wattage for the same amount of light will be different in the US with 110V. Someone more knowledgeable could expand on this maybe?

Tanzer26 Raitis2 months ago

Wattage is voltage X current, so 15W is 15W.

Raitis (author)  Tanzer262 months ago
So in that case a higher current is provided in the US?
Tanzer26 Raitis2 months ago
Yes the current draw from the power grid for the bulb would be roughly double. CFL tube actually needs a much higher voltage, so the base contains a transformer that multiplies the supplied voltage. So on your site of the pond it doesn't need as leave a multiplier.
Raitis (author)  Tanzer262 months ago
Thanks, now I get how that difference is sorted!
technovative2 months ago

Pyramidal structures, all seeing eyes, and illumination, who knew those things were useful outside of secret societies... Resourceful, clever sturdy design... nice.

Raitis (author)  technovative2 months ago
Thanks! I guess they chose the right symbolism then!