How to build your own DIY floating balloon LED light using a few shower curtains

Jun 19, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to build your own DIY floating balloon LED light using a few shower curtains

Jun 19, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Balloon lights are an uncommon light source for most of us. But such lights are often used in TV and movie production. They’re essentially huge light sources that are overhead of your subjects using very bright bulbs. The balloon part of it acts like a big diffuser to help soften and spread the light out more evenly. They’re not cheap, though.

But this DIY option from Todd Blankenship at Shutterstock shows us a way to make one fairly easily using some shower curtains, LED strips and helium.

You can see from the video that it’s fairly involved, and will probably leave you searching for leaks so that you can make sure it stays afloat. The materials list isn’t very large at all, really…

The helium can be swapped out for air, after all, we are running out of helium. Of course, air isn’t lighter than… air. So, it’s not going to float all on its own. But being inflated, it’ll still be fairly easy to manage, and you’ll be able to suspend it quite easily from tall structures.

You’ll need a few tools to help make life easier, too.

  • An iron (the clothes kind, not the golf kind)
  • Scissors
  • A screwdriver
  • A hot glue gun and glue
  • Wire strippers
  • Electrical tape

Now, even though this is a DIY project, it’s still not going to be cheap. You’re looking at around $300. $200 of that is the LED strips, and another $80 is the two power supplies. $300 is a lot for a DIY lighting solution, but it’s nothing compared to the commercial systems available (and that one I linked is less than half the size of this).

[via No Film School]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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4 responses to “How to build your own DIY floating balloon LED light using a few shower curtains”

  1. Duncan Dimanche Avatar
    Duncan Dimanche

    Dope !!!

  2. Zygmunt Zarzecki Avatar
    Zygmunt Zarzecki

    I have something similar. ~1/4 sphere from thin cotton with 5m long stick (made from fishing bat). Stick have 1/4 inch thread at the end for three flashes.

  3. David RJ Brown Avatar
    David RJ Brown

    How about:
    Voile net.
    LED strips tacked to the underside.
    White latex helium balloons underneath that, to lift and diffuse.
    12V wire to each corner
    I havent tried, but I reckon that would be easier, cheaper, more resilient.

  4. Adam Moledor Avatar
    Adam Moledor

    What light meter was he using?