Check out This Creative One Dollar Lighting Setup

"Gear isn't everything." We seasoned pros say it all the time, but often when standing under a pair Profoto B1 flash heads, so it can be hard to swallow for some. Well, if ever you needed convincing, this might just do the trick.

Regular Fstoppers Community Contributor Arber Elezi has made a video where he shows us how to light a model using a relatively simple six-light setup. However, Elezi doesn't resort to the aforementioned B1s and some pricey reflectors (or any for that matter); no, he uses tiny LEDs, some colored gels, and a piece of tissue paper. He uses the lights as you would regular studio lights: a key light, a fill with the tissue paper as diffusion, two gelled side lights, a hair light, and a background light. The only difference is that he needs to position them closer to the model than he normally would due to their lack of output. To compensate even more for the limited power of the LEDs, Elezi shoots his 85mm at an aperture of f/1.2 with an ISO of 400 to make sure that he can use a shutter speed of 1/100 s in order to freeze his subject for a properly exposed and sharp image.

Sure, the gradients aren't the smoothest and the light is a little harsh, but for what it is, the results are pretty incredible. It just goes to show that putting limitations on yourself is a great way to exercise your creative muscles.

Care to share any fun and interesting lighting setups with us?

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19 Comments

Johnny Rico's picture

Well that's not a clickbait title to begin with.

William Murray's picture

The title perfectly describes the content. I'm not sure how this is clickbait.

No matter.

Johnny Rico's picture

Hey check out these cheapo lights, let me rig this on these $150 c-stands real quick.

William Murray's picture

You mean the stands that could be duplicated in function for a couple of dollars and a bit of labor? (precisely what I'm in the process of doing)

Johnny Rico's picture

".. could be duplicated in function for a couple of dollars.." , so it's not a $1 lighting setup, and has a clickbait title.

William Murray's picture

Not in my world; but whatever floats your goat.

I'll take 'equivocation' for $600, Alex

William Murray's picture

Hey, it's clickbait because it the photographs were taken in a room, and buildings cost money.

Joe Black's picture

hahahah my thought exactly. I guess he can have people holding them. I cracked when I say the C stands though for sure heheh.

William Murray's picture

I went looking for variable LED strip lights yesterday at a hardware superstore. Aparently easier said than done.

David T's picture

Easier to order them from Amazon or Ebay imho

William Murray's picture

Cheers David. I'll do that.

Tlamati Xochipilli's picture

This reminds me of the "shot with an iPhone" stories and inspiring those that don't understand what goes into making a great photo vs. a "roll of the eyes" from those that know. Come to find out, they forgot to mention the thousands spent on lighting, setup and such.

Here is a "1$ lighting setup", wow, correct? But wait, there is more... he uses 6 lights, 6 gels, 6 stands, f/1.2 lens. Sure, this is (relatively) cheap (pricing) setup, without a doubt. But a 1$ setup is no more than clickbait (as Johnny stated). =\

Arber Elezi's picture

Hi Tlamati, The title is 1$ Dollar Lighting, I wanted to show that with 1$ Lights, you can take a great Portrait.

Tlamati Xochipilli's picture

I know exactly what you were trying to do, it's an interesting article, no argument, I actually liked it. My whole comment was that it takes more than a dollar to so. Not disagreeing with the 1$ light, disagreeing that the title is a bit disingenuous.

Arber Elezi's picture

Thank you so much Fstoppers also thanks a lot Mike O'Leary

Chris Rogers's picture

What's with all the salt? This is a great Lighting tut. Looks fun to do.

Arber Elezi's picture

Thank You Chris

Michael Holst's picture

I love seeing what people do on a budget and lighting in particular because it can be easy to fall into the mindset that you need pro equipment to create dynamic studio lighting. $1 is impressive.

Arber Elezi's picture

Thank You Michael