Some Cheap Lighting Tricks

If you know how to light, there are some cheap lighting tricks you can find in a hardware store or online. If you are shooting a living room that includes table lights, it’s standard practice to temporarily replace the incandescent light bulbs. Use similar bulbs which have greater wattage so the practical light that is in the frame can add more illumination.

China Ball Light

You can easily set up a china ball. A china ball light is the perfect way to light, for instance, a number of people seated around a table like a thanksgiving dinner or a poker game. There are so many things you can do with practical lights which is why I always carried a whole case of various incandescent bulbs with mounting hardware. Photoflood bulbs, for instance, are color balanced for photography, inexpensive and offer a range of wattage. Put one in a clamp light fixture and you can place it just about anywhere. That’s a very cheap lighting trick.

cheap lighting tricks

Bounce Light

A 30 by 40 inch “showcard” which is white on one side and black on the other can provide soft bounce light as a key light. This give a Rembrandt effect and it only costs a few dollars. For ten dollars more you can get a round light reflector which folds up making it easier to carry.

Cheap lighting tricks are all around us. A string of Christmas lights like this 300 light set adds depth and interest to a black background in a night exterior shot. The lights will be out of focus and can create a beautiful bokeh effect so it looks like there is a distant city or shoreline.

You can mount a small battery operated LED on your camera or place it independently like this Amaran Pocket Sized Daylight LED Video Light. You can adjust the brightness in nine steps. It is powered by a built-in lithium battery, charged via USB.

Often you will need to keep light off a subject. The black card mentioned above will block light. Just attach it to a light stand. So will a roll of opaque black fabric you can find at a fabric store. It may be just the ticket. Or how about black aluminum foil? It’s made just for the film and video industry and it is called Rosco Matte Black Cinefoil.

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