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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.