Four DIY lighting setups to help lighting a scene for under $150

Feb 23, 2018

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Four DIY lighting setups to help lighting a scene for under $150

Feb 23, 2018

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Along with buying camera gear, investing in lighting can cost you a lot of money. If you’re just starting out, it can all be a bit too much for your budget to handle. Jay P. Morgan has some budget DIY solutions for creating 3-point lighting setups. He suggests four setups that you can construct yourself on the cheap. Nothing should cost you more than $150.

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Setup #1

For the first setup, you’ll need an overhead kitchen light as the key light. To go with this you will need a piece of 3/4 inch PVC pipe that sits over the top of the light stand. Drill a few holes in the pipe, attach it with a couple of bolts to the kitchen light, and put it on top of the light stand.

For the rim light, you’ll need a 1000 lumen LED work light. Finally, to fill in the shadows, add a reflector to act as your fill light. If you want to work some more DIY magic, there are plenty of suggestions for making your own reflector on a budget.

Jay says the first setup should cost you under $100. The kitchen light on Amazon is over $170, but I guess you can get a cheaper one at Home Depot or Ikea.

Setup #2

In the second setup, you’ll get harsher light as the key light. It can work in some situations, so if stronger, more dramatic shadows are what you want, then go for it. This time, you’ll use an LED ice light as the key light. It has a tiny loop so you can easily hang it on the light stand.

Again, you can add the work light from the first setup as your rim light, and the reflector as the fill light. For this setup, you’ll need around $150 along with the light stands.

Setup #3

This setup uses two LED work lights that come with a stand. You’ll use one as the key light and the other as the rim light. Again, add a reflector to fill in the shadows.

Since these LED lights produce harsh light, you can use some diffusion material on both to make the light softer. That will cost a couple of dollars, but if you have some tracing paper at home, it will also do the trick. The entire setup costs approximately $120.

Setup #4

For the final setup, Jay suggests this work light with a single LED and a magnifier. It’s a very focused light, so make sure to add some diffusion. This light is handy because it has a 1/4 20 mount, so it can go right on the stand. As in the first two setups, you can add a single LED work light as the rim light, and use a reflector as the fill light. As for the price, this setup should be under $100.

These lighting setups are cheap and DIY, so keep in mind that they will have their imperfections. There can be some color mismatch, but you can use it to your advantage. Cold light on the subject’s face and warm ambient light in the background can sometimes work well and add a sense of depth and a “cinematic” look. If your budget is low, these can certainly give you some ideas how to light your scene with minimum investment.

[4 DIY Lighting Setups for Your Home Studio | The Slanted Lens]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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2 responses to “Four DIY lighting setups to help lighting a scene for under $150”

  1. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
    Arthur_P_Dent

    Another DIY article. Keep it up.

  2. Jesse Antillon Avatar
    Jesse Antillon

    The first light he built is dangerous, although he mentioned that it wasn’t OSHA approved it also violates NFPA/NEC standards.

    A few dollars more would buy a box, cord grip and some clamps to secure the pvc on it and make it a much safer light. If someone were to step on the cord he designed,the twist caps would fall apart and possibly expose him, his crew or the subject to electric shock. In a box with a cord grip, the light may just fall or just get yanked. The employees at a decent hardware store should be able to provide all the items needed for a safe project.

    Many people die or get seriously injured each year disrespecting standard home line voltage. It is a disservice to not show a proper way of building things and puts the public at risk when building electrical devices.