DIY lighting low/no budget

Just wondering what you guys use as far as lights and lighting gear...low/no budget--aka cheap as hell.

I have found some good DIY tips on YouTube for lighting and diffusing, and I picked up a couple of those cheap aluminum light reflector clamps from Lowe's. The brightest bulbs I have (also from Lowe's) are maybe 1500 lumens, I think. 

Part 2: any experience here with filming and lighting dark scenes? Like bedrooms and stuff? Any suggestions on how to light a person lying in bed?

Part 2-a: Is it better to film it brighter and darken it in post? 

A couple test clips I did looked ok, and still ok when filming. But when I put them in HitFilm they looked REALLY dark.



  • GodofThunder
    GodofThunder Posts: 190 Enthusiast

    There was a similar thread not that long ago, check out film riot’s YouTube channel, they’ve done a load of lighting vids

  • Right on. I've actually watched quite a few of their a dark scene, etc.

    But I'm not really sure how bright the lights are. And fiddling around with the lighting in my relatively small apartment is more of a challenge.  Even bouncing light of the walls lights up my room like a football stadium. This is why I asked about darkening the scene in post. 

    And lighting a person lying in bed turned out to be more difficult than I expected. 

  • GodofThunder
    GodofThunder Posts: 190 Enthusiast

    Use barn doors (hinged flaps on sides of light) to restrict light going everywhere. If you’re doing it diy style make sure you use materials which are heat resistant (unless you lights are LED so low to no heat). Also you can make cookies (flat boards with holes cut in) out of cardboard to create the look of Venetian blinds, etc to add interest if need be.

    You can also use a computer screen with bright colours on as a light projector. Easy and very effective. Again you may need to add barn doors.

    im sure others here with more experience than me on the software side can help with the fix it in post side of things

  • WhiteCranePhoto
    WhiteCranePhoto Posts: 923 Enthusiast

    Construction lights work surprisingly well. The only thing they're not good for is impressing clients, so no big loss there. They're mostly tungsten based after all... and so are most Arri and Mole-Richardson lights, except for their big mammajambas.

    To light a room to look dark, use lots of shadows. If you want moonlight, use CTBs and hard lights, light through cookies and put textured shadows in the room.  Desaturate in post with a slightly blue cast... and <poof> it's night.

    Use flags to control spill. Black posterboard works wonders, as long as you don't attach it directly to hot lights.

    Also get your hands on translucent cloth. That also be pretty inexpensive; neutral colored silnylon backpacking tarps work surprisingly well for this sort of thing; you could probably get a one made custom and inexpensively from somewhere like Outdoor Equipment Supplier or Mountain Laurel Designs in case you don't feel confident in your own skills at sewing.


  • dancerchris
    dancerchris Posts: 75 Just Starting Out

    You need light and lots of it.  Most amateur cameras have low dynamic range.  Light your bedroom scene well with lots of diffuse light to lighten the shadows (not eliminate).  You will get good exposure with nice coverage.  Do the dimly lit part in post by taking down brightness.  You need the camera to record light, then you can work with it.  (That's what the day-for-night effect is for) 

    Work lights (construction lights) are an excellent bargain for lots of lumens of tungsten light.  The CRI is far better than any led set.  Their problem is that they are very hot and they lack control.  Bounce them off a wall or ceiling for a nice diffuse light.  Or shine through a sheet of diffusion.  The further away from the light the better.  (Don't use bed sheets or any other baloney DIY, as diffusion is high-temp and will not scorch with 500w work light and it is pretty cheap $5-7 sheet that can be used many times).  Black foil (cinefoil ala Rosco) fastened with wooden clothespins on the light can serve for control.