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Tips & Tricks

DIY vs. Boredom & An Awesome $60 DIY Photo/Video Light Panel

By Kishore Sawh on September 13th 2014

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Being a man, I can say without hesitation, that there is something extremely satisfying about building something yourself that has practical application. I’ve often mentioned that men are sort of egos covered in skin, and a good DIY project helps to stroke that.

According to an article I read ages ago in one of those tome-ish women’s magazines with too much airbrushing done to a cover model that ironically has the words ’10 Ways To Love The Skin You’re In’ in bold font on top, men on a whole, want to be useful, and to show this to the world through even the most ridiculous of projects. I only half agree with this. We want to be useful, but I would reckon the main reason we, do DIY stuff is to stave off boredom, and photography DIY is about the best there is, for men and women.

Boredom causes you to contact people you haven’t spoken to in years only to realize two minutes in precisely why you haven’t. Boredom will have you taking an interest in the junk mail flyers that accompany your bills and reading them back to front; making endless trips to the fridge filled with the hope of a kid of Christmas Eve that somehow on the last 100 trips that hour the sandwich you crave will be there; fixing plumbing issues that don’t exist; and building dog houses your dog will hate because it’s lopsided. This will only stop when your significant other hits you over the head with a rolled up newspaper and casually reminds you that construction workers don’t typically spend their time photographing in their time off, so you shouldn’t likely spend yours doing construction.

[REWIND: DIY: Build An ‘Insanely Bright’ LED Light Panel For $70]

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Then you’ll likely develop an illness, or begin to watch bowling. How bored do you have to be to develop an illness you might wonder? Not very. Anything from the common cold up to and including tablet-curable STDs is better than the terminal meningitis that is boredom. But your passion is your savior, and DIY photography projects, I think, can be some of the best things to do to improve your work.

We’ve all come into times when our work stagnates. Either we haven’t shot for some time or not as often a we should, or perhaps our work has plateaued and we haven’t developed as much as we could. I always find that deciding on a DIY photo project gets me motivated. Not only will it help to cure the boredom, but there’s the feeling of accomplishment you’ll have when you’d created something you will actually use and take pride in. When you build anything from a basic reflector to the light panel, we’ll be showing you below, you’re more likely to be motivated to actually get out and shoot to try out your handiwork. Sometimes, it’s just the ticket jumpstarting your photography.

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We have loads of DIY suggestions peppered into our posts for you to try, ranging from the very simple but effective, to the complex. Today, I’d like to bring your attention to a $60 DIY light bar brought to us by the guys over at Film Riot. It’s described by them as a light bar for video, but I think using it for photos as a constant light is just fine. That said, I truly believe it’s important for any working photographer to get a grip on video to keep competitive because it’s just the way the industry is going, and we’ll be bringing more video shooting info in the future. Without further a do, here’s what you’ll need:

What You’ll Need:

Light Bar Fixture w/8 light sockets
Outdoor Extension cord
Wire nuts/conenctors
Screws & Wing nuts of the same size
Combination connector
Electrical tape
Baby pin wall plate
Screw Driver
Wire Strippers
Drill
Bulbs (temperatures of your choosing)

The video is about half how to build it, and half ways to use it, which I think is brilliant. Ryan Connolly does a good job describing how to deal with the cabling, explaining the basics of electricals within, how to assemble, and of course, how to use. One of the wonderful things about this bar aside from its cost, is the ability to change the lights easily to any temperature or type you want, and the looks you can achieve are beautiful and cinematic. You can even get the light source in shot to give a stage-light look, and the guys also show you how to use some basic DIY materials to create nice cinematic bounces, or how to remove some lights to spread it out more.

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One word of caution, though, is that with a bar this size with the spacing of the bulbs as wide as they are, you may experience multiple shadows cast. This isn’t noticeable on the subject, but more the background. That said, you don’t even need to have a fixture with 8 bulbs and perhaps there are fixtures where the bulbs are closer together to dwindle this effect.

Let us know if you decide to build this and share some of your results. You can keep up with the guys from Film Riot and stay up to date with all their great offerings on their YouTube channel and Facebook.

About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. David Toldo

    I do some food movies. This one is what I do not have yet! It has to change!

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  2. Hannes Nitzsche

    What is that all about? I’m a construction worker who does photography in his spare time… Lol
    Thanks for the article :)

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hannes, you are more a man than me and I commend you! Tell me how you do it as I generally have bits of wall that need repairing. Cheers!

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    • Hannes Nitzsche

      Haha, I didn’t say I was good at either, lol!

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  3. MARTIN MIANO

    this DIY is the bomb …..i so love it

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  4. Kurk Rouse

    I really love the effect of this light set up, looks mostly great for video.

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  5. Chuck Eggen

    Ryan and Filmriot are the Aaron Nace of the video world.

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