Making tools for photography: Ring Light

DIY Ring LightSo, because I’m a fan of doing things myself, and building stuff, I took inspiration from Strobist’s article on making lighting tools from what one can find at the big box hardware stores.   I fashioned a ring light from a light fixture, and I think it turned out pretty well.  The light itself is somewhat ugly, but appears to do its job.

The light was  made by buying a overhead lighting fixture, sold by Portfolio.  I suspect they’re rebranded.  But in any case, it has two circuline bulbs, both 4100 Kelvins, for a total of 54 watts of light.  That works out to about 1/60th second exposure at about f/3.2.  The ballast was located at the center of the light, which for a light would be awesome.  But for a shoot-through ring light, not so awesome.

So I removed the ballast from the light (the bulbs, too), and cut a hole in the middle with my jigsaw.   I then filed the edges of the hole to be smooth.  then, I relocated the ballast to the side, and attached it with bolts.  I wired up the fixture to a lamp cord, and wired a switch in.  12 foot cords are a good length.  I made an L-shaped bar that I bolted to the back of the fixture, and tapped a 1/4-20 threaded hole into so I could mount it on a light stand.  Then I tested it a little at home.  It did well.Laurie

Last weekend, my good friend Marty had his birthday party.  I love his parties.  They’re great fun, and a great time for taking pictures.  This afforded me a great opportunity to test it “for real”, which I did.

To recap:

  • One overhead flourescent lighting fixture from Lowes – $33
  • One 12 foot lamp cord – $5
  • One lamp switch – $5
  • Some electrical tape – $1, maybe
  • A 1/4-20 tap and die, already had this
  • Some steel that I bent into an L-shape, already had

So, for $44, I made a ring light that allows me to take pictures that I think work out pretty well.

Judge for yourself.

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