There is no doubt about it that collecting an arsenal of studio lighting is a very costly adventure. But, who’s to say you can’t get professional results using light strips that you have built yourself? As Joe Edelman outlines in his two part video series, even those with no carpentry skills can whip up some great lighting at a fraction of the price. Take a look, it’s easier to do than you might think:
To make your own lighting rig you’ll need to purchase some fluorescent light ballasts that hold two bulbs each. These can be found at most hardware stores for around $10. Before installing the lights into the ballasts, use a standard 1 1/2″ wood screw at the end of each ballast and screw into a piece of pre-cut wood. For the top piece of wood, Edelman uses a 2″ x 3″ and on the bottom a 1″ x 2″; the length of each should be slightly larger than the width of your ballast. The photo below illustrates how Edelman has mounted his:
The 2″ x 3″ piece of wood is mounted to the track wheel and then mounted to the track which Edelman had already attached to the ceiling. Here is an example:
For a more portable light strip, you can easily attach the ballasts to a light stand using a couple zip wire ties. Just be sure that they are secure to avoid having to clean up a big mess if they happen to fall from the stand.
In this next video, Edelman gives us some pointers on how to use your new lighting rig.
Using a combination of the track strip lights and a couple strip lights mounted to light stands as a rim light, Edelman is able to get some really great portraits…
The key to avoid the dreaded fluorescent flicker that cheap bulbs are notorious for, Edelman has discovered that all you need to do is shoot at a shutter speed of 1/125 or slower. You’ll probably want to use a tripod if you are using a longer lens, but with the money you have saved on lighting, you can buy yourself a nice one and still have some money left in your wallet.
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