Warning! Poor craftsmanship ahead.

After seeing this video about using household lighting in cinematic work, I decided it was time to build a soft box (or something like it).

So I went down to the local hardware shop, and picked up two things.

  • a 3″ long 1/4 threaded carriage bolt ($0.29)
  • two 1/4 nuts ($0.10 each)
  • the cheapest box of white holiday lights I could find ($3.49)

I had a box I was planning to use (one that my printer came in, and that’s been sitting in the back of the closet since September 2009), but when I pulled into the parking lot, I saw this sitting by the dumpster:

DIY SoftBox-ish type thing


Nice! Some lucky meat eater got some steaks or something. Good for them; bad for the environment; good for me (and I’ll be the one to recycle it when if falls apart after a few months of use and I make something similar out of cardboard and paint as intended).

So I brought it inside, and gave it a bath.

I cut a big hole into the bottom, and stuffed the quarter inch carriage bolt through the side near the hole I cut.

DIY SoftBox-ish type thing

I tried to think of a way to attach the lights. Tape won’t stick; super glue is too permanent; staples won’t hold very long.

What to do?

So I just poked the bulbs into the walls of the cooler, and tried to space them out evenly.

DIY SoftBox-ish type thing

I pulled the cold shoe and mounting stud out of the top of an umbrella bracket, and used the bolt to attach the whole, hacked-together rig to a light stand, and ended up with this:

DIY SoftBox-ish type thing

(After I took this picture, I tucked that protruding bit up into the box… I didn’t get another picture. And, anyway, I already warned you about my craftsmanship.)

So how does it work?

Well, not bad! It doesn’t feel too warm on the face, and gives a nice, soft glow. This was shot with with very little ambient light, f/1.8, ISO 100, for 1/160th:

DIY SoftBox-ish type thing

If I had turned a bit more, there would’ve been some nice reflections in my glasses… Something to keep in mind for the 365, methinks, though this image will likely be today’s entry…

I don’t know how long this thing will last, or how much use it will see. And while it gives of fairly pleasant light, storage will be a pain.

And it sheds little bits of styrofoam like crazy.

Still. It was a good, cheap way to make pleasant light for not much money, so GoGo.


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