I got the inspiration for the square ring light from a trip to Vegas. The hotel bathroom had a light that ran the perimeter of the giant rectangle mirror. I noticed the square ring catchlight in my eye and found it really interesting and wanted to reproduce this. A dozen (ok, maybe 2-3) different ideas ran through my head on how to build something the square ring light. I settled on good ole fashioned Foamcore for the test run.
Square and Ring? I know, it’s not exactly the best term for it, but I couldn’t think of what else to call it. So here it is, the Square Ring Light.
Here are the materials I used:
- $4 – Foamcore x4 ($1 each at local dollar store)
- $1 – Aluminum Foil (dollar store)
- $4.50 – Spray Adhesive (walmart)
Items I already had:
- White Duck Tape
- Double Sided Tape (not needed)
- Straight Edge Ruler
- Utility Blade
- White Tablecloth (plastic)
If you don’t have some of the materials already, I imagine the entire project can be put together for $15-20, minus the speedlights.
Cut/score Foamcore into thirds longways. DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH. In my case, the foamcore was 20″ on the short end, so I cut it at 7″ in on both sides, leaving 6″ in the middle. I figured I’d make it more narrow than equal.
I had to reinforce my cuts with the duck tape because I cut a bit too deep and went through…
Here I used the double sided tape, but ran out real quick (make sure to double check your supplies!) Then I tried rolling my white duck tape. THIS TAKES TOO LONG!
I went to my local Walmart and picked up Spray Adhesive. oh yea. MUCH BETTER and FASTER!
To attach two pieces, I measured in 6″ on one end and made a cut so I could bend that into the other piece and tape it down as shown here.
Step and repeat and here it is!
After testing a bit, I rested one speed light on the top-left pointing down and tilted towards the back slightly. I rested another speedlight on the opposite corner pointing up and tilted towards the back slightly.
Without any diffusion, I got hotspots in the corners. I had an extra white plastic tablecloth from a past party which was perfect for the diffusion material. I laid it down and placed the square ring light on top and cut out my diffusion panel.
A little MacGyvering with Binder Clips and here’s the final diffused Square Ring Light. As far as mounting the Square Ring Light, I just rested it on top of a table.
And a shot from my side:
And the final results:
All in all, I had a blast building the Square Ring Light and shooting with it. It really does produce a unique catchlight!
About the Author
Isiah Xiong is a portrait photographer, DIY black belt, and Lego enthusiast based in the suburbs of Chicago, IL. You can view his work on his website, 500px, and Facebook. This article was also published here and shared with permission.