Photography is a great hobby or profession to explore, full of challenges to overcome and techniques to learn and perfect. It can be very expensive, however, and lighting is not an exception. Lighting is necessary for good photography, and the in-camera flash provides harsh lighting creating distracting shadows. The solution for photographers on a budget is to create other sources of light by using inexpensive materials. One piece of lighting that unfortunately cannot be duplicated cheaply is an external flash unit, as these must be compatible with your camera’s metering. Things you can create include a homemade soft panel, soft box and reflector.
- 1- Purchase a clothes rack to provide a frame (see References) for your soft panel. Alternatively, you can construct a large rectangular frame out of PVC pipes and elbow joints; each side of the PVC rectangle should not be less than 3 feet in length, and should be freestanding.
- 2 – Drape an old white bed sheet over the frame. Pull the top edge of the sheet up and over the top of the frame, wrapping the PVC pipe. Glue the sheet onto itself using fabric glue. Attach the sheet to the bottom of the frame as well.
- 3 – Purchase a 500W work light with an included tripod from your local hardware store. If the light comes with halogen tungsten lights, replace them with 3,200K ultra white light bulbs to avoid the yellow light. They must be double-ended in order to fit into the work light. Place the light behind your homemade soft panel.
- 4 – Cut and discard the flaps on the top of a cardboard box. The box can be as big as you want your soft box to be, but should be directly proportional to the size of light you are using with the box (the light source should ideally be a remote external flash unit). Glue aluminum foil to each surface of the inside of the box.
- 5 – Cut a hole slightly smaller than the size of your light on the opposite side of the opening of the box so the light can fit snugly into the hole.
- 6 – Glue transparent one-time-use table cloth, silk or sketch paper to the open side of the box.