Simulate the Sun - DIY Photo Reflector for Portraits




About: I am a British Graphic Designer and Photographer, when I am not working, I spend my time making an array of projects. I used to make a lot of props, but now I spend most my time building crazy cameras and sh...

Here is a short tutorial on how to make a reflector from an Ikea lampshade. After making some holes and putting in some bolts you will get a reflector which sits somewhere between being a high intensity reflector and a beauty dish.

I have seen this particular lampshade turned into a beauty dish before, but its wrong to call it a beauty dish, this modifier sits firmly in the realms of being a Sun Light Reflector. A much harsher light than a beauty dish.

You can see the results you can get in the portrait above.

I bought one of the Ikea Foto lampshades over a year ago after seeing a project using one of the Ikea Brasa lampshades to make a beauty dish from. The shade is 20” in diameter.

While I had originally planned to fit it on a flash gun, I recently invested in a studio strobe, which made the whole thing a lot easier. Best of all, you can get brackets that let you use a flashgun with the studio strobe mounts. Which in heinsight, I should have done initially. The strobe I bought has a very common S-Fit or Bowens fit mount.

Step 1: Parts and Tools

The key piece to this project apart from a lampshade is something with an S-Fit mount on. After some googling around I found the adapter pictured.

The S-fit mount size is 100mm in diameter, so I knew the outer flange would fit the lampshade.

The lampshade used is the aptly named Foto lampshade from Ikea.

Then we need some bolts and threaded rod hardware. I used M6 or 6mm dia hardware.

Finally we need a metal disk to use in the middle of the reflector to reduce glare and diffuse the light slightly. For mine I actually used the metal base off a tin of coffee, which also means the shade smells of coffee when the modelling light is turned on.

We only need a couple of tools, a drill with a drill bit that matches your bolts and a decent sized file. Ideally the flat and curved one (d shaped).

Step 2: Enlarge the Rear Hole.

The first step is to modify the lampshade. The hole at the rear of the lampshade is not quite big enough for my strobe. Place your adapter on to the lampshade and trace the inside hole.

The lampshade is made from aluminium, which is really soft, so its easy to cut through. At the same time, that makes it easier to bend or dink, so be careful.

I found the easiest method was to drill holes around the circle. Then using a handsaw, a pair of tin snips, or plier cutters to slowly cut through the remaining material. It will be sharp, so watch yourself.

You don’t have to be neat, just focus on not deforming the lampshade. The reason being that once you have the middle segment removed you can just use a file to give you a nice finished hole. The file will remove material quickly, so watch how much you take off and stick within your original line.

Step 3: Bolt It Together.

Next you want to place your adapter on your lampshade, then mark and drill three holes. Two of the holes you can put bolts through and attach. I used M6 hardware and where possible locking nuts.

We need to use one of the holes to hold the internal reflector. To do this, I just put a piece of threaded bar through the hole instead. This attaches the adapter to the lampshade as well as providing a place to attach a internal reflector.

Once attached you can gently bend the threaded rod out slightly so that its in a better place to attach the internal reflector.

I used longer joining nuts here as you can tighten them by hand, this means you can easily move or remove the internal reflector from the lampshade.

Step 4: Internal Reflector

For my internal reflector I actually used the metal base of a coffee tin. I painted the outside of this white, then I can easily choose between silver and white by flipping it around. I am still on the hunt for a suitable Ikea item I could use instead.

Whatever you do use, make sure it is suitable to handle the heat of the modelling light if using on a studio strobe. The advantage of using a coffee tin base is that when you turn it on, it makes the whole room smell of coffee.

Step 5: Put It On, Take Some Photos

Attach it to your studio strobe and off you go.

The Ikea lampshade is only rated to bulbs 100watts or under. On my studio strobe I have a 250 watt modelling light. So I just have to make sure I put it at a third power.

The white inside of the lampshade is great at directing all the light forwards, giving it a nice soft feel similair to a beauty dish. However the more parabolic shape of the lampshade gives it a slightly more harsh feel to the light.

The entire project can be done in a matter of hours, however a lot of that relies on you using a strobe system of some sort. If you are doing a lot of work with modifiers, even with a flashgun I recommend moving to using a connection like S-Mount, it makes everything a lot easier.



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    4 years ago on Introduction

    Very nicely done, and clever use of materials.

    If you were to produce these to sell, your slogan could be: "The only Photo Reflector that smells like coffee!" :)