Have you heard of the Ice Light? Well, it is an awesome portable continuous light source that is handheld, dimmable, and lightweight. Sounds awesome, right? Well it is. It is also around $500. While that is a very valid investment if you will use it often. But most of us may not know how often we would really use it. That is the boat I was in.
So I made a DIY version of it for about $30! I wanted to see how often I would actually use it before I bought a real Ice Light. I ended up falling in love with my “cheapy” version.
You will need an LED handheld work light and masking tape. I bought a Wel-Bilt brand work light, but it is no longer available. I did find one practically exactly like it on Amazon.
As you can see the LED lights are behind clear plastic. I wanted to soften and diffuse the look of these bright LED lights.
I covered the clear area exposing the LED lights with masking tape. It took about three rows of masking tape side by side going down the length of the light to cover mine. After sharing this with quite a few friends, some friends have used Contact paper to diffuse the light or wrapped sheer fabric around their light. I think the LED lights are quite cool, so warming them up with masking tape helped me. Go ahead and experiment and find out what gives you the results you desire.
After covering the LED panel with masking tape, you can see the area is obviously more diffused and should give off a softer glow.
My favorite feature of using a work light is that is has built in hooks. One hook at the top to hang, and one hook at the bottom, too. You can also use these hooks to hang the light horizontally.
Since the work light is not dimmable, you will have to think of it as a prime lens. To get the desired looks, you will have to move closer or further away. It is fantastic for creating dramatic lighting or using as a fill light source, too.
Here is a photo I took of my daughter’s tutu. I just couldn’t get the look I was wanting with any available natural light in my house. So out came my DIY Ice Light.
This is a pull back of that photo. I have the tutu and the light laying on my hope chest. The natural light that was available in that spot was awful, but with the DIY Ice Light I got the exact look I had envisioned in my head.
I know you were wondering “How big is this light?” Here is a shot of me holding it my hand. As you can see it is not too big at all. It does not fit in my camera bag with the bag zipped close, though. You can always find a shorter work light if you wish to carry it around more easily. But remember the less LED lights, the less lumens it will put out. That makes it less bright.
I have told you that the work light differs from the Ice Light in that it is not dimmable. You have also seen that you need to diffuse the light on a work light, too.
But what are the similarities?
Both light sources are rechargeable. Oh yes, you read that correctly…rechargeable! The work light I shared in the above link actually comes with a car charger, too. Cool! Both lights are handheld and lightweight, which is very convenient. Both have hooks, so they can be stabilized without being handheld as well. Both are very cool (and fun) accessories to help experiment and grow in your photography.
Obviously the Ice Light from Wescott has every detail thought out to help the photographer. Is a modified work light as good as a Wescott Ice Light? No way. But is it a good value for $30? You betcha!!
Now you can experiment and play with a cheaper portable light source to see if you would really use the real version enough to justify the expense. That was my initial plan, but now have fallen in love with my DIY version and will use that $500 towards a new lens. You know you were thinking the same thing. ;)