How to Build A Clever iPhone Ring Light

As a professional photographer & author of photography education site, I’m a self confessed lighting freak…my favourite light is called a ring light which give a wonderful shadow less glow. I’ve got one I imported for the studio and another one for my DSLR camera and for less than £10 I’ve just built one for my phone….let me show you how.

How to Build A Clever iPhone Ring Light

For non photographers out there, the shape and position of a light have a huge effect over the effect a light has on the subject. A normal LED light would give a harsh shadowy light, a bit like shining a touch at someone, but ring lights shine soft even light from all around the end of the lens. The disadvantage is that they only when close up, so are brilliant for portraits.

This little beauty gives a fabulous fill light when used indoors or at night and I look at the results and can’t believe they are from my phone!

How to make an iPhone ring light for less than £10

To date there is no commercially available ring light for camera phones, but believe me you will be ahead of trend on this one. This is really simple to make and takes minutes. I paid £2.99 for a rubber case for my phone and £2.50 for half a meter of heavy duty self adhesive Velcro.

How to Build A Clever iPhone Ring Light

You will need

  • One LED camping light
  • One cheap phone cover
  • Some heavy duty Velcro
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Personally I took my light apart and sprayed it with a matt black aerosol can from my local hardware store. I used tape to mask the holes from the inside and stop the LEDs from getting sprayed.

How to Build A Clever iPhone Ring Light

The Build

Step 1: Cut the Velcro to the width of your phone case and stick the prickly half of the tape to the ring….ideally with the lights ‘on’ button centred on the opposite side to the Velcro (so the on button ends up over the phone and pressing it doesn’t force the light and the case apart)

How to Build A Clever iPhone Ring Light

Step 2: Now all you need to do is line up the ring and the lens of your camera and Velcro one to the other…hey presto!

How to Build A Clever iPhone Ring Light

It should now look something like this (with the lens in the center of the hole and the on button below the lens)

How to Build A Clever iPhone Ring Light

Using your light

It works best on headshots with you relatively close to the subject. If you are in a brightly lit room, I find turning down the lights or closing the curtains works the best so they don’t over whelm this little light.

If you stand your subject close to a background you’ll get a wonderful halo type shadow effect.

Now, If you’ve already read me free photography lessons at Lightism then you will know that light has a color temperature and that this light you’ve stuck to your phone is a little on the blue side. Personally, I don’t mind this look and if you’re photographing things in the blue / grey range it really enhances them:

How to Build A Clever iPhone Ring Light

Fine tuning your light

If it bothers you, then here are two solutions:

Check if you can change the white balance your camera, phone, device or app to a specific color temperature, if you can follow step one, otherwise step two:

1) Download a color temperature meter app onto your smart phone. Using the light, the app and a piece of white paper it will tell you the exact color temperature, mine varied depending on distant, but was around 9600k.

Equipped with this information you can set the temperature of you light and normal colors should resume.

2) for some apps (and most point and shoots), devices can change the white balance to reset such as: auto, daylight, etc. Take a picture with your light in auto, then change it to the next setting and take another. The coloration of each picture will vary…simply choose which one you like the best and hey presto..you’ve found your setting.

How to Build A Clever iPhone Ring Light

THe video below will show you how the final thing actually looks like:

About the Author

Simon Ellingworth is a professional photographer and the author of Lightism – a blog dedicated to helping people take better photos with whatever camera they have.

  • AilsaD

    Can you share what make/model the camping light was please? I can’t find the right type.