Saturday April 3rd 2010 22:56

DIY Photography Lighting

Given the price of photographic lights, I've often wondered if something like this:


would do a similar job?

Maplin sell a 500W Halogen lamp for £4.99. This is so cheap compared to proper lights that even if the experiment failed, I'd have some handy lights for illuminating the garage.

Not wanting to do things by halves I purchased two lamps and found that they're much larger than the lamp pictured above. They also came sans-wiring and plug so I made a lunchtime visit to the local DIY store to purchase the required remaining items:

2x 500W Halogen Lamp £9.98
8m power cable £5.52
2x plugs £1.98
Fuses £1.27


The above table shows 8m of power cable, whereas in reality I have closer to 10m. Having watched the sales assistant's rather liberal approach to measuring the first few metres of cable, I said: "Actually, I think 8m will be enough."

Note the newly hoovered lawn (the house we're renting comes with a Flymo):


Maplin's description states "500W", though the supplied bulb is rated at 350W. A pictorial on the box states that 350W bulb = 500W of light!?


Of course photographic lights come with stands which would normally increase the bill for the DIY project. Being a percussionist means I already have some stands that don't require any modifications. The addition of a large washer was all that was required to press a pair of cymbal stands into service as photographic light stands:


The head of the cymbal stand makes adjusting the angle of the lamp very easy!


So, do they work? Here are some handheld results:



Normally I'd do this sort of thing on a tripod, but following the move I can't find the flash extension arm which has the tripod mounting bracket attached to it!





Proper photographic lights with a domed reflector provide a smoother output than the halogen security lamp's rather angular reflector.

I also need to look into the 350W bulb situation, as I don't think the lights are bright enough.

The camera appeared to consistently underexpose by 1.5 stops and autowhite balance was way off.

That said, for under £20 I think the above results are very reasonable.

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