For years, I have relied on artificial lighting for my portraits and photos, and this DIY ring light I made is so helpful.
Since I wrote the tutorial for this light ages ago, I wanted to update the tutorial and links (some are no longer available). If you’re ready, I’ll show you how I made my ring light, and yes, it’s still standing strong today. I also made an LED Light Panel Softbox for another space-saving lighting solution!
For me, I wanted to make this ring light, because I didn’t want to shell out the money for a fluorescent one. First, it was expensive, and second, I have kids. Fluorescent lighting contains mercury, and if you shatter a fluorescent bulb, the mercury can do severe damage to your body. I didn’t want to risk it, so I chose the LED route. Plus, the light doesn’t get hot, which is nice for long filming sessions.
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- 14″ Wood Hoop ($6.84) for embroidery (with 2 hoops, one larger and one smaller with a clamp to attach them together) like this
- 14″ Wide Wood Floral Base ($6.29) like this
- LED Strip Lights ($9.99) Cool White (5000K), 16.4 ft. like this
- DC Adapter ($9.85) for LED Strip Lights (12V for US) like this
- Mod Podge ($6.99) like this (matte finish would be better than the gloss I used)
- Rust-Oleum Metallic Silver Spray Paint ($4.15 or $3.86) like this 0r this
- Sponge Brush ($4.13) like this
- Hot Shoe Mount ($5.50) like this
- Wooden Block (???) check your local craft store or dollar store. I used a toy block that was just lying around.
- Drill with 1/4″ bit
- Extension cord – the DC Adapter for the LED light is rather short
If you like picture tutorials, you’ll enjoy these. However, if you like real-life action packed video, I have one at the end for you too!
The Ring (Base)
Alrighty, first, the embroidery hoop comes in 2 pieces with a tightening screw atop the outside piece. Loosen the screw, slide out the inner piece just a little past half way and tighten the screw. This makes the inside of the hoop wider, and you can lay down more LED light inside it. Apply Mod Podge to all the seams, inside and outside. Apply 2 smooth layers and let dry.
Next, attach the wood hoop to the wood base. Align the edges and glue in place, both inside and outside. Apply 2 layers and let dry.
After the glue has dried, spray paint over the inside of the ring. You can paint the outside too, but I just painted the inside.
Now, this is why you need that wooden block and hot shoe mount. Drill a 1/4″ hole into the bottom of the block so that the hot shoe screws in tightly. Test it.
Next, remove the hot shoe, and cut a slit into the top of the block. It doesn’t have to be too big, but it should be large enough for the ring light to sit in. This is where the wood base of your ring light slips in to, and the hot shoe attaches to your camera. Still with me? Good!
Line the Lights
When your paint is completely dry, do a test run of the LED lights around the inside of the hoop, and check how many times you can go around. You also want to loop around and add a strip of lights to the back. It’s ok if you fold the strip over the edge. Try to fold over at the bottom of the light, because this is the best place to connect to the DC adapter (it’s a little heavy).
14″ DIY Ring Light
Alas, here is the finished product. Cool white light leans a little blue, so if you want to experiment with warmer lights, that might be interesting too. I was thinking of building a ring light with both warm and cool white lights to see if they balance each other out. Maybe on my next adventure!
Unedited photo taken right after I made this DIY ring light. Pretty darn good work, if you ask me. Keep in mind, you can’t use this on its own in a dark room. You’ll need at least a little bit of light around you as well as a reflective background (like the wall behind me).
As I sit here, I’m remembering how much fun it is to create things with your own hands. Yes, it’s easy to go out and buy something, but when you make it yourself, it’s so much more special.
Have you made anything awesome lately? Do you think you’d benefit from a DIY ring light like this one?