DIY Light Wand for Photography

Ever since the Wescott Ice Light came out a few years ago, photographers have been finding its incredible portability, high quality of bright, daylight balanced,  soft light, and long-lasting battery life somewhat irresistible. What’s not particularly irresistible about it, however, is its price. It also doesn’t change colors like its cheaper cousin, the Yongnuo Wand Light. Yet only 40 of the Wand Light’s LEDs actually change color, giving a much more watered down color version than straight white. So if portable color and saving money are important to you, you might want to consider this DIY stick light created by Jordan Thornsburg from Macroscope Pictures. It comes with a slew of color options and the ability to be controlled by smartphone:

The amazing portability of light wands make them useful for all sorts of applications, whether you’re shooting macros, adding a bit of fill light, light painting, or even creating a softbox. If you don’t need the high quality of light that the Wescott Ice Light offers (there’s a reason it’s $499!), this DIY light stick might be just the thing. You can use it for anything from accent lighting to fill light, and with its plethora of options through the Magic Home app, it’s especially useful for light painting.

This inexpensive light wand comes with a full RGB color spectrum

The first thing you’ll want to do after ordering the electronic pieces is to take a trip to the hardware store, where you’ll find the PVC components you’ll need, the adhesive, and any of the tools you don’t have in your tool kit. (Of course, you can always order the PVC parts online, but I find it’s cheaper to buy them at most hardware stores.) If you’re handy at all and have all the pieces, this project really shouldn’t take long to complete. In fact, setting up the app might even take longer, depending on where your talents lie.

Supplies for a DIY Wand Light

Materials needed

Two things this light stick creation doesn’t contain, though, that you might find particularly useful are diffusion and barn doors. Diffusion, of course, softens the light and makes it particularly useful for lighting portraits, product photography, or taking macro shots. The barn doors allow you to both shape the light and prevent spill. Luckily it seems like both of these could be added to this light stick, given some thought.

how to make a light stick

In the end, whether a light stick like this is worth your while really depends on what you’re shooting. If you want high-quality, non-flickering, daylight-balanced light with diffusion, the Ice Light is probably your best bet. If you’re doing light painting or artistic shots needing a variety of colors, this DIY light stick should work splendidly.

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