This great studio ringlight tutorial is a guest post by Carl Edouard Denis from www.cedenis.com, who aside from building monster studio lights, and taking pictures, also DJs. A jack of all trades.
Let me start off by listing all the items you will need to make your light. If you are a regular DIYfer or tinkerer, you may already have many of the items on this list.
- Plywood ½ inch to ¾ inches will do. The more lights the thicker the wood. (square piece) You can get those 2×2 or 2×4 or 4×8 and other configurations. I used a 2×4 piece cut in half at home depot so I got two 2×2 pieces.
- Scroll Saw or Jig Saw or Hand Saw. I used my Roto Zip. Only because it was more accessible at the time.
- Drill bit 3/8 or bigger to start pilot holes for Saw.
- The drill bits used to make holes for locks in doors is ideal for this application. They are usually 2.5 inches wide.
- Philips screwdriver or electric screwdriver.
- Wire nuts
- Electric tape for wire insulation.
- Tie wraps or zip ties or plastic ties for securing the cables
- Insulated Electric cable ( a few feet depending on how many lights) White and Black
- Two prong plug and cable (can be bought together preassembled or taken from another appliance that does not work) I used an old on from a drill that did not work. It was a little heavy duty (thicker) than regular table lamp cable.
- Dimmer switch.
- And don’t forget the natural light bulbs.
First you have to decide how many lights you want. All you need is a whole for the camera to see through before you go out and get all the stuff, make a shopping list of everything you need. Preplan the light so you don’t buy thing s you don’t need. Are you going to make a 6, 8, or 10 light ring? Also the bigger the ring the farther away you can be from your subject and the bigger you subject can be. If you are shooting small things (macro) you would need a smaller ring then if you where shooting a person or larger object. Your objective is to surround your subject with light in order to take any unflattering shadows away.
This light socket may be the easiest to work with because is comes pre-wired and is for outdoor use, so its heavy duty and can handle higher wattage lights. They are about $3 dollars each. You would need to drill or make a hole in the plywood that would be just big enough to squeeze the socket through so that it will stay put and not move. Connecting them is easy because you would just run them in a series circuit. For those who don’t get it, you would connect black from one socket to the white on the next socket with the wire nuts until you had only one white and one black left which you would then connect you power cable to. Like this:
I chose to keep my outer edge square because it meant less cutting and also you get more room to fasten you tripod mounts. Feel free to use your artistic license and configure the lights in different patterns. For example, you cam make two 5 foot vertical lights. Like this:
It’s pretty hard to draw with the touch pad of a laptop. But I hope you get the point. You can use lights in many different combinations and designs to suit your needs.
1. First step is to draw the pattern on the wood then cut out the holes.
2. Next secure the sockets to the Panel.
3. Wire the lights in parallel or series and connect to power cord.
Your almost done, Plug the power cord to the dimmer and then your ready to put the mounting brackets of your choice for tripods or you can screw some 2×4 legs on it.
That’s it, Voila.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. This would be your end product:
The smaller ring light was made by using a Xmas tree 100 light set. I just drilled 100 holes on a ¼ inch piece of model type plywood. They usually sell this type of thin plywood at the model or craft stores. Then I just pushed the light through the holes being careful not to break them because they are fragile. And I used the inner portion of the bigger diffuser I cut out for the big light. Without the small diffuser, you can many little hot spots of light on your subject. Her are some example with and without.
If you liked his article, you will also like: