So I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about lighting in my kitchen. I don’t have a usable window, and I only have one overhead light. I keep putting bigger and bigger bulbs in it, but it’s still rarely enough light. Everything come out dark and very slightly blurry because of the long shutter times.
Clearly, I needed more light. I’ve looked at some of the commercial systems, but they’re all bulky and/or expensive, and I didn’t want to spend several hundred dollars on lights.
I started with generic reflector work lights, with big CFL bulbs in them. That was okay, but I had to juggle them and the camera, and since they didn’t come with diffusers, I always had these terrible bits of glare. I thought about various solutions – scuffed up lexan and white fabric were at the top of the list. Then I took a good look at the roll of Press N Seal wrap in the kitchen, and gave it a try. And it works great! If you wanted more diffusion, you could put on two layer. So, here’s the first part – I have two of these:
The lights were about $10 each, and the bulbs were about another $5.
Next, I needed a stand. I tried some prototypes with boxes, but they were all too big and bulky and fragile. I wanted something that collapsed down when I wasn’t using it, so I went with the universal Cheap And Easy Building Material – PVC pipe.
Start with 10 ft of 1/2 PVC pipe. Cut two long and two short pieces – the actual lengths will depend on the size of your countertop and the size of your lights. For the corners, I found 3-way joints, with smooth sockets on 2 sides and a threaded socket on the third. Then I found 4 more couplers that had male threads on one side and a smooth socket on the other:
Glue together, using only the unthreaded sockets, into a rectangle:
Now cut 4 legs, preferably all the same length. Glue into the female side of the remaining couplers – these will be the legs. You can also cap the bottom end if you were sloppy about getting the legs all the same length.
Now, screw the legs into the top:
And attach the lights. I spaced mine so the light would sit flat on top, but you can clip them any way that works for you:
How well did it work? I went from having to shoot at 1/25 to 1/30 of a second to 1/100th. Here’s the before and after shots:
Not bad for $30 in lights and less then $20 in PVC!