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.
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.
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.
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.
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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