Feb 13, 2012

DIY Light Modifiers

Easy ways to Customize Lighting Setup

In today’s episode I explain how to make a snoot and the best materials to make lighting modifiers with. Using things available at any hardware store can save you from buying expensive equipment and help you get different creative effects.

All the Info

  • 0:35 New Contest for this week
  • 1:35- Definition of the super snoot
  • 2:00- DIY vs. buying
  • 2:30- How I made this modifier and materials used
  • 3:30-  Attaching the snoot to Light stand or boom
  • 4:30- Testing it out
  • 4:55- Plan for the shoot and how the light will be used
  • 7:00- Showing how the Light will hit subject
  • 07:30- Best ways to make a modifier

DIY Contest

Show us what you’ve made! DIY projects for lighting, light modifiers, anything to do with photography. Upload your image below for a chance to win a Phlearn PRO. We will choose 5 Winners and announce them next Monday.

Related Tutorial

Powerful Portrait Contest Winners Join us in today's contest episode as we review our Powerful Portrait Winners! After over 2,500 entries and a grueling selection process, these are...
Mother Nature Contest Winners Here are the Winners for our, "Mother Nature Contest".  Thank you to all of our Phlearn phamily who participated in this contest.  Check below to view...
Crazy Colors Contest Winners Join us in today's contest episode as we review our Crazy Colors Contest Winners! After over 1,500 entries and a grueling selection process, these ar...
Creative Lighting Contest Winners This month’s contest theme was Creative Lighting! We were shocked by the amount of beautiful and creative images we had to choose from, and none of th...


user image You
(will not be published)

  • user image
    Eric Burgers

    I created a snoot for use *underwater*, attached to an INON Z-240 strobe. Inside the snoot are black straws, that act as a grid. Snoot made of sewer piping. The snoot produces a very localized hot spot with soft edges, like a beauty dish, but smaller.

    Here’s a picture of it, along with a sample (a snooted backlit anemone):

  • user image
    Daniel Cumisky

    I built a 5×4 view camera. The focusing screen has to be removed to insert the dark slide and is made from perspex sanded to hell and back to frost it up with a couple of washers glued into the corners to get to the same distance as the film plane. The lens is a magnifying glass lens with an f-stop of about f3.2. I never actually used it as i just ended up going out and buying a toyo but, i’ve recently got it out to show it the light of day. Only recently added the focusing screen and lens hence not being in these photos. 

  • user image

    I built a ring light a few years ago, and documented it all in this blog post:

    It doesn’t see too much use these days, but it’s still a great conversational piece, as it’s hanging on the wall of my studio.

    Some day I’ll replace the round tungsten colored bulbs with PAR38 daylight balanced spot bulbs, to get a little bit more power out of it.

  • user image
    Petra Šmidová

    I made my ring light 3 years ago, with my father for my neverending photo project : Bubble girls. First 3 bubble photos I took with my old camera Canon EOS 400D ( Digital Rebel XTi ) last one with my new 5D mark II =). I love this light and I used it a lot with my old camera. I also made  Pinhole camera from a paper, but I think it is not so interesting for many people or popular…

  • user image
    Mark ODonnell

    So cool Aaron!  This is right up my alley.  Just tonight I constructed a snoot out of paper towel cardboard tube for my SB600 to help light a shoot I am doing this week.  It’s flexible and I can make the end of it as small as I want.
    I have also used various coffee cans (metal) as snoots.  The plastic lids make great attachments for snug fit on any size light source.My greatest accomplishment has to be my DIY $5.00 version of the $485 EyeLighter (   Talk about a work of art!
    I used a single sheet of white foam core cut to width and length and simply wet it with a garden hose.  The foam core becomes pliable and you can bend it.  I bent it to the kinda a half circle then placed lawn chairs on either side to hold the shape.   You let it dry overnight and Wallaaaa..  you have yourself an EyeLighter. (shh.. don’t tell anyone)
    For extra convenience you can hot glue a mount to the back or a couple of washers so you can mount it on your hot shoe umbrella holder thingy then attach it to a light stand.

  • user image
    Vitaliy Piltser

    I love DIY projects!  Seriously, a lot of what costs hundreds of dollars can be made at home with some determination and actually function and look just as good. I’d love to see that snoot in action, Aaron. My favorite ‘project’ is what I like to call “Poor Man’s Macro”

    Essentially, you combine two inexpensive lenses to give you a extreme-macro results.

    (The fly seen in the photo is actually hanging on the tip of a regular tiny needle)

  • user image

    There was a time when cheap softboxes for speedlights weren’t available (especially the umbrella-like ones, like the westcott apollo) so I had no choice but to try and build my own using cardboard, some cloth and a lot of tape. It’s about 60*60cm and diffuses light pretty good. Since then, cheap softboxes have emerged on ebay and I’m using those, but I still have some great memories with using this one. It’s really simple to make: all you need is a lot of cardboard and some good scissors. Cut the cardboard into four isosceles trapezoids, tape them together and add a piece of cardboard as a base, making sure your cut it in a way your speedlight fits through it. Then you tape the cloth and you’re done. Diffused light for less then $10 (and the majority of that goes to the fabric). 

  • user image
    Marius Manastireanu


    I’m gonna post only two of my projects.

    1. DIY Fisheye lens. Done from a door peephole, PVC pipe, some kind of foam pipe insulation and for usability a UV filter, so that I can attach it on whatever lens I want. 
    2. DIY Softbox. Done from my router’s box. I’ve glued some tinfoil to cover all the sides and edges and attached a white canvas material with tacks. Can be used either with continuous light (like I did) or with speedlights.

    Attached are photos with both constructions as well as sample photos taken with them.
    Hope you like it and hope it helps 🙂

    Marius M.

  • user image
    Dennis Fotoguru Karlsson

    Great tips Aaron. I’m actually about to create my very own super-snout soon so this episode was inspiring.

    Here are some of my own DIY-stuff
    1. Ringflash for speedlight made from my mums sponge cake mold. No more cakes for me, but I’ve got a nice ringflash 🙂
    2. Bouncer blueprints for SB-600. Made from $3 IKEA-box
    3. The remains from the $3 IKEA-box turned out to work very well as a light box for product photography.

    // Dennis

    • user image
      Hi Dennis,

      How creative!
      Could you explain how you made the ring light? I really would like to try!:)

  • user image
    Justin Bonaparte

    Homemade Softbox 2 (HSB2). Pics pretty much say it all. Cut a hole in a $5 laundry basket, line the inside with foil, cover opening with diffuser…
    Need a buddy to hold it, though, as it’s not integrated with the flash.

  • user image

    Hi Aaron,
    thanks for the link love. funny, I am about to solve your ping pong ball problem in a very interesting way. stay tuned to the blog 🙂


  • user image

    Here are some of my  diy photography gadgets:

    (1) t-strap:velcro,pvc foam
    (2) bokeh filter:black plastic sheet,cardboard
    (3) flash grid:velcro,pvc foam,black straws
    (4) DIY 80/20:black plastic sheet,velcro,cardboard,paper
    (5) micro beauty dish:paper plate,cardboard,paper,emergency rescue blanket(as a mirrror)
    (6) gold/silver reflectors:emergency rescue blanket,car sunscreen

  • user image
    Bryan Dockett

    I love DIY in general I don’t do that many projects but I love seeing the different ideas. 
    The last one I did was a couple weeks ago I made a beauty dish which came out pretty good. The pic is below and here’s the link 
    My most valuable photography DIY so far has been adding a pc/3.5 mm jack the my sb600. 
    I knew I wanted to move to off cam light so I brought a pair of pwII and then a sb600 and then realized I had no way to connect the PWII to the flash 🙁 . (BTW the only nikon falshes with a jack is the $500+ sb900/910) 
    DIY instructions here:
    Phlearn ya’ later. 

  • user image

    awesome idea! you should try and use a wiffle ball at the end instead of a ping pong ball and see if you can get some beams of light coming out of it! think it could look pretty cool! 

  • user image

    Behold the Nokia 2330 classic ND filter!

    When I was deciding if ND filters were anything for me, I didn’t have any friends that owned one. That meant that I was unable to borrow any filters. I still wanted to see if the long exposure effect was something to be desired so I just made my own.

    This is probably one of the cheapest ND filter out there. I do realize that ND filters are expensive because of the image quality and neutral colors they have to retain. This one does NOT retain neutral color 😉

    It’s made of two things:
    1. DIN 10 welding glass = $0.5-$1 (can get as low as $0.05 with mass import from China)
    2. The Nokia 2330 classic box = $0  (workphone…)

    You cut a hole in the box for your favourite lens. Glue the glass to the box, but with this particular box it actually fits perfectly. Mount box on lens and watch people stare at you in awe.

    This cuts light by a LOT. Doing 30 sec exposures in direct sunlight is easy with this one. This means that this beauty actually can do a whole lot more than some of the regular ND filters out there. Regarding image quality, I didn’t see anything wrong with the sharpness of pictures taken with this. One major drawback though is the color tint. Welding glass isn’t black, but very deep green. All pictures therefore will have massive green tinting. It’s easily color corrected though in Lightroom/Photoshop but I recommend taking pictures in raw 😉

    Pictures attached.

  • user image
    Matt Goslee

    I made my own DIY concrete mushrooms for my fairy set and i completely built the set from scratch and hand made the costumes as well. this too me about 3 weeks to build and was totally fun. as you can see i built two mushrooms and one was taller than the other and then I learned a lot about the construction using concrete with your sets is that they are not made to be moved around unless you have a strong back lol the big mushroom is about 150lbs on just the top and then the bottom is made out of PVC pipe and a cylinder tube and then carved with a spoon. I found out that cutting up an old garbage can and making my own molds was the best and then carving it down to make the shapes of the mushrooms. the platforms were old palettes that we screwed 3/4 inch  plywood to the one side and then covered it with indoor outdoor carpet and then covered that with moss. 

  • user image
    James Brown

    I made a DIY waterfall to use for interesting backgrounds, to shoot through, shoot light through, or
    all kinds of cool things. I used a 5′ piece of pvc (smallest diameter I could find, a matching pvc cap, a water hose on/off adapter, small piece of larger pvc to fit the hose connector, and some epoxy or pvc glue.

    The most crucial part of this whole thing is the hole size, and spacing. You want to drill as small of
    holes, as close together, and in as straight of a line as you can. I used a chalk line to mark the pvc. Then I used a small drill press with a jewelers drill bit to carefully drill the holes. It takes some
    time, but it pays off. I also left around 10” of space before I began drilling the holes, and then again before I reached the end of the pvc. This is so you can clamp the pvc on a stand without disrupting the sheet of water.

    The easier part is connecting all of the pieces. Epoxy the hose on/off to the larger piece of pvc, then the larger piece to the step down connector, then to the next connector, then the 5′ piece. Epoxy the cap to the other end of the 5’piece.

    Once everything is dry, hook it up to a hose. This is still in testing stages. I think using an even smaller diameter tube would help, or hooking this whole thing up to a water pump to get more pressure to have the sheet of water run the length of the pvc rather than the shorter length shown in the pics.

  • user image
    Kewal Rai

    Seems like my post didnt get through?

    Anyways Im an avid DIY fan and always dab my hands when I can.

    Beauty dish, followed guidelines from and improvised on materials.

    Ring Flash (still incomplete as I havent made it look more nicer but wanted to test it during a shoot so just taped the diffusion cover/cloth), inspired from Wish they had HomeDepot here too :oS

    Tri-Flash holder, saw it and well didnt make sense to invest on it as I dont really use it that much so made one myself since it was a simple design.

    I did try them for this shoot

    Cant beat the feeling of satisfaction when using our own DIY stuffs and seeing it work perfectly :oD

  • user image

    Error in posting, it doesnt shot tho I have tried it few times. Fingers crossed this will work.

    First thing first, Im a huge DIY fan, always used to dab my hands on anything that I could.

    Here are some I have done for photography works.

    1. Beauty dish –

    Inspired by the Best Chinatown Beauty dish

    2. RIng flash –

    Followed guidelines from
    and used similar materials(wish they had HomeDepot here). Still
    incomplete(the final finish of the diffuser to make it look more
    presentable) but taped it first to use it for a shoot.

    3. Tri-Flash Holder

    Cant beat the satisfaction when using the DIY projects and they work perfectly :oD

    Shoot where I used these DIY projects.

  • user image
    Dan Hanus

    I really like DIY. I made my flash grid for my SB700, colored gels for flash, beauty dish for flash. one year ago i made fishe eye lens for my iPhone but i lost it on my trip:( . done from door peephole. 

    You can use studio tripod like steady cam. Hold it in middle. it really works! 🙂

  • user image
    Kevin Miller

     Here’s a little DIY thing I did over the weekend.  Put steel wool in a cheap beater and attached a rope to it.  Lite the steel wool on fire and spun it around.  Repeated this process around town as I avoided the authorities. 🙂  Here’s one of the shots from the outing.

  • user image
    Jon henbest

    I have a few entries. The first is my alternative to spending several hundred $ on pocketwizards ($ which I don’t have at the momtent. I took my TTL cord, chopped it and spliced ethernet connectors on each end. I then spliced new eithernet cables at 6ft, 30ft, and 60ft. I can get as much reach as I need without dropping  $200 on a wireless setup. Total cost $15 plus my existing TTL cable. Originally 2ft

  • user image
    Jon henbest

    Second is a small DIY beauty dish. Several great beauty dishes on here already. I actually made two identical ones over the weekend. I followed the plans used for the “Chinatown Special”- a popular DIY dish. Total cost- $8 The last image is a shot of my dad inspecting my splicing work- taken with the beauty dish.

  • user image
    Jon henbest

    Last but not least- My soft box. And yes I broke out the sewing machine for this one. (I can thread a needle like a BOSS). I bought a small cloth wrapped laundry basket at walmart for $4 and used existing fabric I had for the front diffuser. I also lined the inside with a sunscreen I had in my trunk. I cut a rectangular piece for additional diffusion that I suspended over the hole for the flash to bounce the flash around inside the box more. The attachment that I used for this and the beauty dish to connect to my flash is a gutter downspout attachment. All 3 projects were inspired by DIYphotography,net and done over the weekend. Thanks for the link to the site Aaron! Saved me around $500 

  • user image

    Kinda figured a system like that… never built it… like where you went w it

  • user image
    Ahmad Sadeghian

    I like the way you do your job. You are great. I really adore you boy. I am from Iran and I am honored to learn from you.