DIY : The Lowe’s Lighting Kit – Jonah Fields – Medium
Hollywood Lighting on a YouTube Budget
Every photographer and filmmaker knows that good light is the foundation of what we do. That said, it isn’t always easy to get the right lighting without a lot of spare cash. Studio lighting is expensive, even more so if you need it to be portable. I’ve found, along with several other photographers, that you can achieve a lot of great lighting looks without breaking the bank by getting a little creative at the hardware store. The best part is how adaptable this kit is to your budget and needs. You can mix and match everything on this list to suit your particular needs and add pieces on over time, rather than commit to a predetermined kit.
I’ve assembled my own 4-point lighting kit almost entirely from things I bought at Lowe’s. However, you can buy everything on Amazon without leaving your house through the links in this post. If you’d like to see the kit in action, check out this documentary, where we used the version of this kit that I bought at Lowe’s in addition to one softbox.
Clamp lamps are a staple in garages everywhere and hold the same shape as expensive beauty dish lights. I purchased a total of 4 lights in 2 sizes: 8.5″ and 5.5″ in diameter. You can purchase a single lamp or buy them in packs of two.
I bought a set of Cowboy Studio 7′ Light Stands. You get 2 for $27.99, or you can buy them individually. They’re not the most rugged stands in the world, but they’re a cut above some of the stands that are included with “pro” lighting kits.
If you want something that can withstand more abuse, you may want to consider these Neewer C Stands, though they do cost more at $89.99 each, or $139.99 if you get the version with boom arms. If you go this route, you should pick up sandbags as well. #SafetyFirst
I bought a pack of LED bulbs at Lowe’s, but you can use pretty much any type of bulb you like. The important thing is that you make sure to buy bulbs with a CRI of 90 or higher. If it’s lower, you may not get consistent color from them, which makes White Balance a nightmare.
This 8-pack Phillips LED Bulbs boast a high CRI (the exact number isn’t listed) and 1500 lumens of light for $32.76. They’re available balanced to 2700K or 5000K, so you can match them to daylight or any tungsten lights you may have.
If you’re looking to get more creative with color and diffusion, the Lee Quick Location Gel Filter Pack provides an excellent assortment of gels, diffusion, and cinefoil at a good price. They’re made to withstand heat as well, so it’s safe to use them with hotter tungsten lights.
Reflector disks are the Swiss Army Knife of lighting. The white side gives you soft, reflected light. Silver has more contrast than the white. Gold is warmer than the silver and black flags away any stray, unwanted light. Unzip it and you have a diffuser to soften the light. I used a 24-inch disk until it was stolen (screw that guy).
Alternatively, you can use a reflector made for the windshield of a car. They’re a little more challenging to position, since they don’t pop open and stay rigid, but a little gaffer tape and some creativity will go a long way. This sun reflector kit for cars offers 6 reflectors in different shapes and sizes for $10. They also appear to pop out and hold their shape, which is a plus.
It’s always a good idea to have extension cords, in case there aren’t any outlets in your immediate vicinity. This is another piece you could pick up at your local hardware store, but if you’re ordering on Amazon, this 25 foot extension cord will ship free as an add-on item.
Because they weren’t designed to mount on light stands, they clamp lamps don’t stay on very well by themselves, but if you clamp it to the top of the stand, then put one of these spring clamps over the clamp lamp, they stay on just fine. They’re also great for holding reflectors, backdrops, and other modifiers in place.
Clothespins are great for holding gels in place, but I’d recommend getting them somewhere like Walmart rather than Amazon. They tend to be much cheaper there. Still, I’ll include a link to some here.
Do you have any budget lighting gear or tips of your own? Share them in the comments!
Full disclosure: As an Amazon Affiliate, I receive a small portion of the sales from these links at no extra cost to you. I’m committed to providing honest reviews & would never recommend a product I don’t genuinely believe in.
While I purchased my clamps and lights at Lowe’s, the Amazon equivalents that I’ve linked to here received at least 4+ stars from those who have used them.