I originally typed this up for the lovely and marvelous Alli Black over at Alligator Eyes after she mentioned she doesn’t have any decent photography lighting. I quickly whipped this up (through various sources and my own experiences) in the space of an hour or two hoping it would be some help. Thought I’d crosspost it to here for anyone in the same dismal spot.
(besides, I haven’t done the blog thing in a while and figured this would make a worthwhile update)
This is word for word the reply I sent to Alli (with some alterations/corrections made to suit), so forgive the memes, WALL OF TEXT method of writing and shitty grammar.
I will also preface this by saying this is not the absolute definitive option for DIY lighting. There’s plenty of ways to get lighting into your shot and plenty of blogs to read. But as I said before, this is also from my own experimentation and a few other sources. So I just went with what I knew.
“Perfeck. I dunno what you’re budget’s like at the moment, but here’s a relatively cheap way to get lighting all up in your photos. This is more meant for film, but with some tweaking I don’t see why it couldn’t work for photos too!
1) grab some desk lamps. For they are portable and easily maneuverable! For less headaches make sure you can move the bulb/stand bit around.
2) also grab some of those super-bright energy saver bulbs. They pump out a decent amount of light. There’s also the option of low-wattage (for the love of god, make sure they’re low wattage) floodlight bulbs if you need more lighting coverage, but finding the right type to fit into a desklamp may be tricky. Honestly, doing videos and stuff I haven’t had a problem with the energy savers. All depends how big your room is and your proximity to them.
With most lightbulbs, you have the option of cool (white) light, or warm (yellow) light. Buy whatever’s appropriate.
3) Switch ’em on and point them at a white wall, ensuring light bounces off onto what/where you’re photographing giving an even coverage. If you need to, set your white balance on your camera to adjust to the lights, so you don’t look jaundiced or similar to a smurf/cat-thing from “Avatar”.
4) get snap happy.
An alternative is to scour hardware shops for some worklights (the big-ass twin halogen ones on the tripod, about AU$30 from most large hardware stores. You can also get single ones on a small stand) and set up in a similar fashion. The problem with these lights is that it’s like STARING INTO THE GODDAMN SUN, they’re usually warmer in colour so you’ll have to compensate for that via diffusers + mucking around with white balance, they get REALLY hot and the bulbs are a pain to replace. But they’re cheap-ish and easy to set up. I mean, I managed to do it, and I specialize in herping the derp.
If you need diffusers (unlikely, as lights + white walls generally do well by themselves), use greaseproof paper + pegs. However, be careful. While greaseproof paper is heat resistant, it’s still paper. Last thing you need is a house fire. I’ve also heard of people using white thin shower curtains but as they’re plastic, you’ll need to keep them at a safe distance.
Obviously this isn’t going to be as good as pro lighting, but it’s a start.
If you REALLY want to go nuts and don’t want to burn a hole in your wallet, there’s also this:
If you have the cashflow, these are also great.
Hope this helps!”