Photo studio lamp

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Project by Don "Dances with Wood" Butler posted 12-07-2011 07:34 PM 1057 views 5 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Two things drive this project.
1. I don’t like buying things I can make.
2. I can’t afford fancy factory made studio equipment.

So, because I’m re-igniting my old profession, photography, and want to do perosnal portraiiture, I will be building most everything but the camera.
This is the first thing, a free standing main light. It’s all oak except for the hardware.
The second photo shows the diffuser half withdrawn. the other photos show that there are four CFLs in the lamp, and they’re individually switched show I can select different light intensities.

-- Will trade wife's yarn for tools.

12 comments so far

View jeffl's profile


288 posts in 2034 days

#1 posted 12-07-2011 07:59 PM

Interesting light, I never thought about them much. I do have a photo tent I wonder if that would work with that.

-- Jeff,

#2 posted 12-07-2011 08:28 PM

This lamp is fairly large, 15×15 on the front and if used with a tent, I’d leave the diffuser off.
The diffuser, by the way, is simply some white muslin on a plywood frame.
The thing about the switchable CFLs is that the light level is completely controllable.


-- Will trade wife's yarn for tools.

View Bertha's profile


12951 posts in 1417 days

#3 posted 12-07-2011 08:31 PM

This is awesome. I love how you invested some time in style points. Really cool lamp. I used to do silkscreening with the photoflood bulb. I spent a fortune on the lamp housing. I wish I’d made one;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

#4 posted 12-07-2011 09:16 PM

Notice the inside. I lined it with silver mylar. It’s as reflective as a glass mirror. Its lighter and cheaper, too.
Much easier to work with.

-- Will trade wife's yarn for tools.

View Kelen's profile


270 posts in 1115 days

#5 posted 12-07-2011 10:01 PM

Very creative, love the idea. And like you said, no sense in buying it if you can make it yourself.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4422 posts in 1760 days

#6 posted 12-07-2011 10:10 PM

Impressive, Don. I agree with you on the ‘why buy it when I can make it myself’ stance. I may be making something like this myself one day soon.

Just as an aside. A question for you. Assuming the white balance for the camera is set correctly, is there any advantage of using Daylight fluorescents over the more commonly used warmer ones?

At the moment I use a daylight lamp to supplement ordinary daylight (mostly for even lighting and shadow cancellation). The bulbs are more expensive and if I were to use ‘studio’ light only I’d like to take advantage of the cheaper variety if I’m not loosing anything in colour rendition in doing so.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

#7 posted 12-07-2011 10:46 PM

I don’t like the “warm” CFLs. They’re actually a gold color, no good at all for anything in my opinion.
I have no trouble with color balance because I can let my camera set it automatically.
But if that wasn’t the case, correcting color in post production processesing is easy.
Get a free download of GIMP and learn to use it. It has a steep learning curve but is every bit as good as many other expensive programs.
The CFLs I use are, as you note, more expensive, but I won’t use the others, not even for regular room light.

-- Will trade wife's yarn for tools.

View degoose's profile


7049 posts in 2078 days

#8 posted 12-07-2011 10:59 PM

That is one fancy looking lamp..very interesting approach to lighting..

-- Drink twice... and don't bother to cut... @ For lovers of all things timber...

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4422 posts in 1760 days

#9 posted 12-07-2011 11:03 PM

Thanks, Don

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 1839 days

#10 posted 12-08-2011 02:04 AM

I like it
thankĀ“s for sharing Don


View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

13180 posts in 2706 days

#11 posted 12-17-2011 07:44 AM

very appealing design and fun read. one of my favorites

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View stefang's profile


13530 posts in 2058 days

#12 posted 01-25-2012 04:50 PM

Just saw this Don. The lamp looks smart and aesthetically pleasing too. We’ll done.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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