How To Build A Square Light Beauty Rig

I have had and used a regular ring light and though I liked the even lighting it produced, it was not something I used often and when asked about selling it – I did. The smooth, clean KinoFlo fluorescent lighting effect on portrait subjects interested me; but a KinoFlo rig was out of my price range.

How To Build A Square Light Beauty Rig

One day while putzing around my garage and the remnants of my photography studio I found the makings of my own fluorescent lighting rig.

Not quite a ring light – not quite a KinoFlo but it does produce both interesting catchlights and even headshot lighting.

The parts supply list is short and the build is pretty straight forward.

How To Build A Square Light Beauty Rig

  • 4ea Hydrofarm Single T5 Fluorescent Fixture w/tube, 24″ Model: FLT52. $30ea
    • Includes electronic ballast, clips and fixture
    • No noise. Rapid start. Low heat.
    • No frequency flickering
  • 6′ Power Cord
  • “Daisy-Chain” Cable – Connect up to 8 Units
  • Canvas is white back-stapled 24×30” artist canvas. $10

Studio usage is simple however the total light produced does not equal the larger multi-light per side KinoFlo. A fast lens and/or boosting your ISO (400ish) are almost a requirement to get decent shutter speeds. I use a tripod when able. Blue scarf image below: Handheld, Nikon D800, f/3, 1/100, ISO 200

The light from this setup produces is soft, smooth and draws my eye deeply into the image.

How To Build A Square Light Beauty Rig

I have added an additional 24” under cabinet fluorescent fixture (replaced supplied tube with a 6500k version) as a hair light behind my subject to produce a bit of separation from the background.


How To Build A Square Light Beauty Rig

This rig works perfectly with the Light Blaster as it does not spill much light onto the background. I placed Cinefoil as a flag on back of the hair light to prevent light spillage from it.

Additional images from the shoot shown above can be seen here: 3 Girl – Hat & Scarf Day set on Flickr.

About The Author

Ray Dauphinais is the owner of Creative Concept Studios. you can follow them on twitter and on Facebook.

  • Robert Miler

    I remember reading a tutorial about cutting out letters from a canvas, kind of like a stencil. that if you coat the un-primed side with varnish or something similar, the cutout will be more durable. if it’s even an issue.

  • Matthieu

    With such device, I think reflection in the eye of the model should be photoshoped. I don’t like the square white box it shows…

  • ohHenry

    Looks similar to my build. The exception being I used two bulbs on each side and a tighter fitting hole for the lens. And mines dimable.

    I have a second ring strobe on the front of the lense.

    I’ve started a build using LEDs for the square going with a larger ring strobe for lens. The LEDs are RGB so my color choice would be extensive for the square rig. We’ll see how it works out once completed. I may go back to the smaller lens strobe. ..?

    • udi tirosh

      sounds a really great build. would love to see the final result and share with the readers.

      • ohHenry

        No problem, I’ll email you some build and final pics when done. It’s a simple build really.

        • udi tirosh

          thanks, that would be sweet!

  • April

    Would be really great if you actually explained how to put it together because I’m just not that creative or mechanically ept.