The key to great photography is good light. Unfortunately, natural light isn’t always an option when you’re ready to start snapping away, and external light sources can be expensive. But many photographers – novices and professionals alike – rely on external light sources. Before you break the bank to achieve the perfect lighting effects though, these tips might help save you some expense. Rest assured that you can achieve professional-looking photos with DIY photography lighting techniques.
You can achieve professional-looking photos using homemade photography lighting and save yourself a fortune. From make-shift portrait lighting to DIY diffusers, you’ll thank us later.
Creative Homemade Photography Lighting Ideas For Photoshoots
Make a DIY Diffuser
A diffuser is semi-transparent material that goes in between your light source and your subject. It creates a softer lighting effect and is great for DIY portrait lighting. You don’t have to drop big bucks to create one. Using a plain white bedsheet, pillowcase, or parchment paper, simply stretch the material across a frame and staple or nail it to hold it in place. This will create a simple diffuser that will allow you to better control the light. If your light source is close to the diffuser, your lighting in your photo will be harsh. The further you are from it, the softer the lighting in your photo will be.
Make Poster Board Your Best Friend
Remember the poster boards you’d use for school projects? Well, turns out that same material is going to be your new best friend when it comes to photography. White poster board makes for a great reflector.
In photography, a reflector is any surface that redirects light towards the subject or scene you are shooting. Reflectors help smooth out your lighting and its distribution on your subject. This gets rid of harsh shadows, too. To create a DIY photography lighting reflector, you want to go with white poster board. However, if you’re creating a flag, then you should go with black poster board.
In photography terms, a flag does the opposite of a reflector in that it blocks the light. Flags can be used to cast shadows, provide negative fill, or protect your camera lens from a flare. No matter what it is you’re shooting, it’s always good to have a white poster board (your reflector) and a black poster board (your flag) nearby.
Hang Up Some Fairy Lights
If you’re looking to create DIY photography lighting effects like bokeh, then you should definitely grab some fairy lights. They’re a cheap, versatile way to create neat lighting effects for your photos. Use the classic white or yellow fairy lights, or get creative and go with colorful bulbs. Where you place the lights will be determined by the effect you’re going for in your photo. Place them in front of your subject to create a dreamy whimsical feel. Or place lights behind your subject and blur the background to create a bokeh effect. Keep in mind that this is a light source that will be visible in your image without looking too harsh.
Make a DIY Flash Diffuser
A flash diffuser is a simple modifier that goes in front of your camera’s external flash. It softens and/or spreads the harsher light emitted by your flash, creating an even dispersion of light on your subject.
You probably already have most of what you need to create a DIY flash diffuser laying around the house. A piece of plain white paper, tape, a hollow tube (like a chip can or paper roll), and scissors will do. Next, cut the tube so that it’s the length of your camera lens, leaving one side slightly longer. Then, grab your white paper, fold it in half, and tape it to the tube. It doesn’t matter if the paper covers the sides of the tube as long as it’s covering the opening. Just make sure you’re taping the paper so that it follows the curves of the tubes, avoiding any sharp edges. When you are ready to start shooting, pop up your lens and attach your new diffuser with tape. Voila! You have a brand new homemade photography lighting tool.
Create a Plastic Bag Light Leak
To create a dreamy, vintage lighting effect, all you need is a plastic bag and scissors. Simply cut an uneven hole in a plastic sandwich bag and then wrap it around your camera lens. You don’t have to worry about being exact here. Just make sure that you’re leaving the center of the lens uncovered so that you’re still able to control your focus. Once you start shooting, adjust the bag as necessary to get your desired effect.
DIY a Ring Light
When it comes to creating awesome self-portraits, a ring light is key. Any photographer, whether they’re new to the game or an old pro, will tell you that the perfect selfie is all about the lighting. Luckily, creating DIY portrait lighting is easy and takes just a few household materials.
To create your DIY ring light you’ll need cardboard, wax paper, foil wrap, zip ties, LED rope light, scissors, tape, and a wire wreath. First, cut your cardboard into a donut shape that’s the same size as your wire wreath. Once you have that, wrap the cardboard in your foil wrap. Next, take your wire wreath and wrap your LED rope light around it using zip ties to hold it in place. You can cut off the access from the zip ties once you have all of the light secured. Connect your light-wrapped wire wreath and foil-wrapped cardboard together using more zip ties, then wrap the whole thing in wax paper securing it with tape as you go. Once it is fully wrapped, plug it in and you’re ready to start using your new homemade photography lighting.
DIY a Softbox
A softbox is another lighting tool that helps create softer light by reducing harsh shadows. To create a DIY softbox, you’ll need a few more materials than some of these past hacks, but the final effect is worth it. Not to mention, it’s a lot cheaper, too, than if you were to buy a professional softbox. To get started, gather a box cutter, glue, cardboard, tinfoil, shower curtain, velcro tape, and binder clips.
Measure the lights you’re going to be using and cut your cardboard into four panels of the same size. Do the same with your tinfoil and then connect the two pieces using your glue. Attach the four panels with glue and velcro tape, creating a backless box. Next, cover the back of the box with your shower curtain. Secure your softbox in place using binder clips and you’re ready to start shooting.
Play Around With Ping Pong Balls
Turns out ping pong balls aren’t only for sports. They just so happen to make for some of our favorite DIY photography lighting effects, too. The semi-translucent material of the ball makes for the perfect diffuser on your flash, creating a soft lighting effect that cuts down on harsh lighting. Simply cut an X-shape on one side of the ball and slide it over your flash or an external light source like a small flashlight. Just like that, you have a professional lighting tool for just a very small fraction of the price.
Top DIY Photography Lighting Effects in Picsart
Using physical DIY photography lighting tools is one thing, but sometimes, you want it to be even simpler than that. This is where Picsart can help.
Picsart is your one-stop shop for all photography needs and post-production. The Picsart app has a variety of DIY photography lighting effects that you can easily master. Here are some you should just check out and experiment with.
Creating the perfect light for your image is easy when you have Picsart in your back pocket. Simply open your image in the app and select Relight from the menu under Tools. From there, make adjustments as needed until you achieve the perfect lighting for your photo.
Make Lighting Adjustments with Brightness, Highlights, and Shadows
Adjusting the brightness of your image is one of the easiest ways to control the light post-production. To access the brightness adjustment tool in the Picsart app, simply open your photo in the editor, tap Tools in the bottom icon menu, and then tap Adjust. In the new bottom icon menu, you’ll see Brightness as the first option. Use your finger to slide back and forth on the amount scale to get your desired lighting look.
Further down the icon menu, you’ll also see the option for Highlights. Tap that and use the sliding controls to make your adjustments. Highlights are the brightness areas in your photo that are defined enough to see in detail. Right next to the Highlights option is the option for Shadows. Use this adjuster to lighten or darken the shadows in your images. When you’re happy with the adjustments you’ve made to your image, tap Apply in the top-right corner.
If you need some help learning how to effectively use these features, check out this blog post on photo editing basics.
Rainbow Light Effects
The best part about post-production light editing is that you can create effects you might have otherwise had never been able to achieve. Behold our Rainbow Light sticker effect. This is seriously the easiest lighting tutorial with the coolest impact. Rainbow light selfies have been trending for a while now, and this is your foolproof way to get it using just stickers. Check out this tutorial for all of the details.
The best part about Picsart is that you can get incredible lighting edits without the hassle of sourcing and setting up a slew of photography equipment. One great example of this is the Lens Flare effect. With your image open in the editor, scroll through the bottom icon menu until you see Lens Flare. Tap the icon to open your options. Choose the flare you like best and tap it to open it on your image. From there, you can adjust its position, size, hue, and opacity. Just like that, you’ll have the perfect lighting effect every time. To take this edit one step further, check out a tutorial video on how to create a light beam effect.
Light Filter Effects
Another super easy way to get your desired lighting effects without the hassle of lighting tools is to use filters. There are tons of styles and filter effects to choose from in the Picsart editor. Play around with the adjustment features on your selected filter to create your desired look. You can even layer filters to create exactly the lighting style you are looking for. Not sure where to start? Learn everything you need to know about filters right here.
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