An Unforgettable Giant Ring Light and How You Can Make Your Own

An Unforgettable Giant Ring Light and How You Can Make Your Own

The largest ring light I've ever seen consists of 27 bulbs and is four feet in diameter. Six months ago, I built it. With so many questions left unanswered, I put together a short film that explains how I built it, why it was built, and why it's the most amazing light I've ever used to date.

The strongest asset to the ringlight is continuous lighting. This helps with three things:

  1. Being able to shoot a shallow DOF without the need of an ND filter.
  2. No flashing strobes.
  3. The pupil in my subjects eyes are very small making the colorful iris stand out. This is due to the fact that a person pupil becomes small when they are looking at something bright (ex: being outside vs a dark room). Modeling lamps are nowhere as bright as this ringlight.  

What gave me the idea to build this was a photographer named Jay Russel. His ring light was the product of a two year experimentation. After watching him over a few month, I decided to go out there and build one myself with 3 priorities in mind: clean, cheap and big. With $120 in supplies and two days of work, the ringlight was complete. Within a week I was endorsed by Sunlite - who sent me over a thousand light bulbs to use (The progess of this project can be seen on my personal Facebook by scrolling the images on my wall).

Jay wrote a blog post on 500px worth checking if you're interested in building your own. 

The current bulbs I'm using are Sunlite Halogen 42W Soft White Bulbs. They aren't as cheap as incadescent bulbs, but they aren't as warm either. If you are mixing ambient light with the ringlight you may want to go with a CFL daylight bulb. The dimmable ones are quite expesive though. Keep in mind you don't need high wattage bulbs, 27 low wattage bulbs still gives off a LOT of light. 

I stepped out of the box and literally into a circle- a ring of light. Over the years I have learned to take risks and chances like this, and have been greatly rewarded. I hope my video is not only informative, but is also inspirational. Take risks of your own on your path to creation- what can you come up with?


Filmed by Moshe Bree

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Win Mag's picture

Awesome video, thanks for sharing!

Jon Sharman's picture

Dude, these are stunning, especially the first shot of the little girl. Brilliant stuff.

Daniel Hendley's picture

Do you have discussed anywhere any insights on your processing? This lighting modifier is awesome, but your processing of course is where the shots truly become killer. Especially the one of the girl with purple hair

steven spaulding's picture

thanks for taking the time to put this together dani

steven spaulding's picture

i like doing my own thing, like yourself. all the while taking inspiration from those around me.

Lowell Mason's picture

Great video. thanks for sharing.

Christian Berens's picture

That's a great description and plenty easy! A router, jig saw and some electrical and you've got your base! Thanks for sharing!!

Chris Parent's picture

I love this thing but had a fun idea. Could you imagine how awesome this would be if you used 30 Phillips Hue bulbs? Except it would bankrupt a small country....

Randy Budd's picture

Excellent DIY project. It sure does produce wonderful results.

Jason Ranalli's picture

Dude...the magician reveals the trick! I'll have to watch the video when I get home(blocked here at work) but I knew that there was something much bigger than the average ring-light going on.

Great work as always...your pictures are the proof.

Jason Ranalli's picture

No problem, I just watched the video and it is an awesome DIY setup that is cheap and obviously produces amazing results. I will say this though, I'm enamored with the post processing you have on your portfolio but until I saw this video I didn't quite realize where you were "starting-from" in an OOC shot...this does take just a little of the magic out :)

While they are expensive, have you considered LED lightbulbs? There are consumer based models that are fully dimmable have at least some color temp choices, etc that would help in both reliability(don't burn out as easily) and heat concerns. I switch some bulbs in my apartment for them and will not look back.

In any event, thanks for sharing this...creating some home-made DIY project that makes such spectacular results is such a cool thing. This is WAY more inspiring than the latest camera body review or 1.4 lens.

Don Shader's picture

Wow, what a concept. I haven't seen the video yet because I'm at work but would you mind sharing the exposure info on some of these images? Awesome work my man!

Julien Kauffmann's picture

Look at Dani's fstoppers portfolio you can find the exif of his images !

Don Shader's picture

Thanks Julien, I never thought of that. I'm new to Fstoppers and haven't quite figured everything out just yet.

Julien Kauffmann's picture

I have build mine last week This was my first try with it !

My post processing is not as good as Dani's but i feel it. It cost me 150 canadian dollar. I can't watch the video cause i am at work but Dani, have you installed a dimmer switch ? For mine I have installed 2 dimmer switch, one for each ring, (first ring 8 bubls and second 12). I Use 60 W bulb.

Mr Blah's picture

He installed 2 dimmers (one for each concentric circles!).

Have you tried around with (costier) but less hot lights? (CFL, led?)

Julien Kauffmann's picture

Not yet, I am afraid of flickering with led lights but it look like we will not be able to buy incandescent bulb in Canada at the end of the year. That's what the vendor told me.

Mr Blah's picture

Actually they are not allowed to restock with traditional bulbs but can sell the remainder of their stocks... It's CFL and LED from now on!

Mr Blah's picture

Yeah you're right! Sorry!

Julien Kauffmann's picture

Not yet, I am afraid of flickering with led lights but it look like we will not be able to buy incandescent bulb in Canada at the end of the year. That's what the vendor told me.

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