Homemade Studio Lights

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Byronnn, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. Byronnn

    Byronnn TPF Noob!

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    Hello,
    I'm not sure if this is in the right category, and I'd encourage a mod to move it if it isn't!

    I'm sort of new (18 months) to photography, and as such have huge gaps in my knowledge.*Im a poor student and cant afford the epuipment I'd like, so what I'm looking to do is build a simple non-syncing studio flash.

    I was thinking of getting some sort of work light on a tripod like this:
    *http://www.oneprojectcloser.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/tripod-work-lamp.jpg
    Then replacing the bulb with something whiter, adding a dimmer, then creating some sort of wired remote that would cause it to flash.

    My father is a former electrician and explained that while a dimmer is easy to install on appropriate bulbs, a flashing mechanism is slightly more complicated.

    I don't really care about it syncing with my shutter. That isn't really necessary for the type of photography I do.

    I'm not expecting a complete solution or explanation, but I was hoping for a push in the right direction and a some foresight of potential problems from someone more experienced.

    Byron*

    *
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    If you don't care if it syncs with the shutter, why do you want it to flash?

    And why the dimmer and flash? The power of a flash is controlled by the duration of the flash, not by a dimmer.

    And why do all that on a work light platform? It's a poor choice for photography quality lighting.

    If you want to go with lighting, on the cheap, you can use work lights, but just use them as it or maybe find a way of diffusing them without burning the house down.
    I really don't see a need to reinvent the wheel here.
     
  3. deannamb

    deannamb TPF Noob!

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    I use a work light I purchased at Lowe's Hardware for $10.00 and diffuse it by hanging a sheer white curtain over it, or aim it to the ceiling and use the reflected light.

    It's a constant light obviously, no syncing, but it worked fine for the boudior photos I did last week.
     
  4. Byronnn

    Byronnn TPF Noob!

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    For long multi exposure photos I need multiple flashes, which is why I don't always want a constant light. For regular photos constant light would be fine if a dimmer is present. These are both situations that I find myself in quite often, which is what has prompted me to want the type of light that I described above.
     
  5. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    One of the most accurate maxims in photography is: If you go cheap, you'll pay for it.

    Save for what you want or live and learn. ;)

    (ask me how I know :lmao: )
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    For long exposures with multiple flashes, why not just buy a cheap flash unit? You can buy a decently powered flash, brand new for less than $100....or get lower powered models for dirt cheap. I have a bin of old flashes that I picked up at garage sales, flea markets, swap meets etc.
     
  7. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Agreed. I don't quite understand what it is you are trying to do. Always on light works just as well as strobes as long as you keep the bulbs the same in all your lights. Just don't use any kind of fluorescent lights as you'll never get a white balance to approximate daylight with them.

    The problem with always on lights is that they end up costing way more than strobes in a working studio. Imagine the electric bill if you are going to have 5-10,000 watts of light on for 7 or 8 hours a day. They also get hot and when working with models, it is far from ideal. You don't want them sweating like pigs.

    But if you are just learning and not shooting all that much with those lights, they can be just fine. When I got back in photography it was to shoot for ebay stuff. I used architect lamps because they are easy to manipulate to send the light where I wanted it. I also built a box with outlets, each attached to a dimmer, to give me nice control.

    No model involved so the heat wasn't a concern.

    Hope that helps.
     
  8. Byronnn

    Byronnn TPF Noob!

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    Imagine that I am trying to do something like this:
    http://www.inewscatcher.com/timages/4b018b8f1fdcd4ecddf188d5b9497b10.jpg

    I have several handheld flashes but none will fill a room with light or give even lighting to a very large subject. I want to have 2-3 lights on tripods in separate positions with individual wired remotes that can be controlled manually by me (standing in 1 spot).

    It would be nice to use a single type of light for various regular lighting situations as well, which is why I was planning to attach a $5 household dimmer switch to a work light.

    The problem is that I don't know how to make a light flash a single time with the press of a button. It could either be some sort of electronic circuit, a mechanical device that could turn a switch on/off quickly and consistently, or some sort of extraneous device intended for a single short completion of a circuit.

    I'm used to MacGyver-ing an impromptu studio in my kitchen, back yard, at the park, and just about everywhere else. Most of the equipment I use was not bought from a photography store.

    I want a simple, cheap, effective light that is very bright (though adjustable), and can switch on/off at 1/60th or faster.

    Humor me and pretend you understand why. I'm just wondering if anyone knows how I could make the the flash function happen.
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think you'll have trouble doing this with a regular type of 'constant' bulb. A flash bulb (tube) is made to create a whole lot of light in a very short amount of time. I seem to remember somebody doing the math on a typical studio strobe (maybe 320 Ws) and it came out to something like the equivalent of 100,000 Watts from a continuous bulb.

    My point is, that a work light will probably give you a very, very small amount of light over 1/60th of a second.

    The shot you linked to, looks to be lit by strobes. Actually, one of the three exposures looks to be lit by different lights (or at least fewer lights).
     
  10. Byronnn

    Byronnn TPF Noob!

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    You're right! It seems silly that I didn't think of that before. I'll probably still pick a couple up and attach a dimmer for a constant light source.

    For a strobe, ebay seems to be a decent source for super cheap basic strobes:

    45 W Studio Lighting Master Slave Strobe Flash Light on eBay.ca (item 170489458097 end time 20-Jul-10 15:20:36 EDT)

    Combining that with cheap stands and sockets would make it ~$40 per light. Does this seem valid? It seems that 45 Ws is slightly more than an average on-camera flash.
     
  11. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A Metz flash has a winder mode that gives 5 low power flashes a second.

    If you are going to go courtside with the Lakers though you're going to need a Nikon D3s and then you won't need a flash.
     

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