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How to Make a DIY Overhead Light for Dramatic and Cinematic Scenes

You don't have to spend a fortune to have great-looking lighting in your images and videos, you just need to know what sort of light you want and how to create it. In this video, learn how to put together a DIY overhead light, perfect for dramatic scenes.

Light is light. That tautology is an oddly helpful reminder at times when you gaze lovingly at some gargantuan lighting rig that costs the same as a car. While those lights will be effective and useful, if you're on a tighter budget, don't be fooled into thinking that you're priced out of the sort of cinematic light you have seen on screen. 

This video is by a fantastic videographer, Rob Ellis, whose YouTube channel is a criminally underrated resource for those interested in filmmaking, especially on a budget. Ellis has created some stunning work with seemingly minimal equipment, time and time again. This particular video shows you how to make an overhead light by combining canvas frames to create a large cube, black cloth to control light bouncing around, and then white muslin to act as a reflector. The result is akin to a modifier and Ellis bounces a focused beam of light off of the muslin inside the cube which is placed directly over the subject.

While this is aimed at videographers, photographers can really benefit from this sort of modifier. The light that results in using this setup is both dramatic and cinematic, opening up a lot of potential for darker shoots.

Robert K Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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