If you’re new to video this cheap lighting setup will be one of the best investments you can make. For $25, you can’t beat this amazingly simple, yet versatile setup.
Ok, here’s the goods. First, we start with this very basic dome light available at most hardware stores. I got mine for $8.
Then, you’ll need a light to put in it. Any bulb will do, but a bright, dimmable LED will be the most flexible. You’ll also want to get one that’s daylight balanced if you can. That just means the color temperature is around 5600k.
Lastly, you’ll need something to bounce the light off of. I use art board that are common in most craft and art supply stores. Mine was $8 for a 3’x4′ sheet. These are great to have around for lots of functions. You can also use the a 5-in-1 screen reflector like this.
Get all of those things together and set apart some time to play.
HOW THE LIGHTING SETUP WORKS
A lot of people will get this equipment and think it will solve their problems. Whoa there! This is just the start. You’ll need to figure out what to do with all this stuff to get the results you want.
I suggest starting with a look you like. Pick an example of a video, or even movie, with simple lighting that you like. Notice how the light falls off in the highlights and especially notice how the shadows play across the face.
Got it? Ok, let’s make that happen for you.
To start with, place the reflector panel (5-in-1 or art board) right beside you with the plane of the surface facing your face. It’s kind of like a mirror. You want it to be perpendicular to your line of site. Like this.
Then, place the light facing the reflector. It should be pretty close. Where on the face of the reflector should you place it? Well, that depends on the look you’re trying to get. I usually place mine toward the top left or right corner so that the light reflects down on my cute, adorable visage.
Now, set up your camera. You will put the camera in front of you so that it can’t see the reflector and light. If you’re using a wide angle lens, just move the reflector back a little bit to that it’s out of frame.
That’s the basic setup. Does it look like you hoped? No?! Well now it’s time to experiment. Here is how I control the lighting when I use this setup.
Once you have everything set, you can adjust the position of the reflector and light to get countless lighting looks. Here’s how I adjust everything.
The closer you place the reflector to your face, the softer the shadows and the brighter the light. If you’re going to a really soft look, get the reflector as close as possible to your face while still hanging out of frame.
You can also soften the shadows on your face by moving the light further away from the reflector. This makes the surface of the reflected light bigger, which is the key to getting soft light.
For harder looks, you can move the reflector farther away from you. You can also move the light very close to the surface of the reflector and for extra sharp looks, move the light to one of the corners of the reflector.
BEAUTY AND FASHION LIGHTING
If you’re trying to recreate a beauty or fashion lighting look, like you see with a ring light, you can put the reflector directly above the camera, still facing you. Then mount your light above the camera facing the reflector. This will minimize shadows on the face, while still giving you a bit of shadow to define your jaw line.
Of course, saying, “That’s it.” doesn’t mean that’s all you can do with this lighting setup. Keep working with it, and you’ll find that you can get amazing results with this very affordable lighting setup.
I hope this helps you make some awesome videos. Happy filming!