Photography Tip- Cheap Diffuser for Clip Lamps

trekriffic

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I have these inexpensive clip lights I bought at Lowes awhile back for use in photographing my models. I've learned that it is often desirable to diffuse the light, softening it so as to give more even illumination to your subject and reduce the stark contrast between light and dark from strong shadows you would otherwise get from using an uncovered bulb.
I've tried a few methods to achieve this effect; one involved placing translucent florescent lighting panel material over the face of the lamp using duct tape, another used duct tape to tape T-shirt type material to the lamp

Recently, I decided to try something new. The clip lights are 8.5" in diameter. I found these 8" wooden embroidery hoops at Michaels. Unscrewing the outer hoop I hot glued the inner hoop to the outer rim of the lamp:

Lamp by trekriffic, on Flickr

Then I placed a square of this frost cover fabric I had laying around for protecting outdoor plants from frost over the front of the lamp. It's very light with tiny holes in it that will allow for air to circulate around the bulb which is an incandescent. I wrapped it over the rim and the inner hoop. Then I screwed the outer hoop down tight over the cloth using the thumbscrew to stretch the fabric tight:

Lamp by trekriffic, on Flickr

Lamp by trekriffic, on Flickr

Then I trimmed the fabric from around the back side of the outer hoop:

Lamp by trekriffic, on Flickr

I'm pleased to say the hoop and frost cover fabric worked well as a diffusing mechanism:

Lamp by trekriffic, on Flickr

The hoop cost less than 2 dollars from Michaels and the fabric (purchased from my local hardware store/garden center) was not too expensive either. Aside from being inexpensive this approach is superior to taping material over the lamp from the perspective of removing the diffusion material more easily by just unscrewing the outer hoop. You may also wish to take shots of your model in scenes using a red, yellow, or some other color glow and swapping out the white cloth for colored cloth should be easy to do if you want to get creative with your lighting effects.
 

trekriffic

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I'll try to post some images of my new lighting/backdrop setup when I take my next round of model pics. Someone on one of the forums I visited mentioned using PVC irrigation tubing and fitting to make stands for clamp lights. They also included a link to a how to video. So, following the instructions on the video, I made two clamp light stands. Then I took it a step further and made a large framework for hanging a cloth or foamcore panels from as a backdrop; it will also support the background fill light. Best of all it was cheap, under 20 bucks at my local hardware store for five foot sections of 3/4" tubing and the tees, elbows, and coupling fittings needed to make the frame. I spent about the same to make the two stands. So under 40 bucks for a rather decent photography setup. I also purchased some full spectrum CFL bulbs so my models will be lit with natural light from now on for more faithful color reproduction in my photos.
 

Junkie

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Nice and clean look - great project.
 

the Baron

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That's an excellent idea! I use those clamp lights, too, to backlight when I take pictures. I may borrow your idea.
 

LrdSatyr8

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I found that using 1 inch PVC tubing and fittings I was able to make a wide variety of stands, holders, etc. I found this information by a guy named Dean Collins about using PVC pipe and fittings for making all kinds of cool lighting systems and tools. He put out this very nice PDF called Tinker Tubes that explained in detail how to build just about anything you need for lighting and backdrops etc. Check this out...





You can get the whole PDF here: http://blog.nextdayflyers.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/1Tinker-Tubes.pdf
 

LrdSatyr8

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Love the Clamp light diffusion going on there Trek... will have to give that a try myself soon! :)
 

Belugawrx

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Post up some of your pics with the new lighting tech.,...?
 

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