I'm setting up basic three point lighting in my room to photograph myself facing the camera (actually, this is for video, but I understand questions about lighting are ok).

What I have is two Smith Victor A80 Reflector lights:

Smith Victor A80 Reflector Light Smith Victor A80 Reflector Light

one with a 500W bulb, one with a 71W bulb.

No stand, though I've found I can take the shade off of lamps at home and screw these onto the top of them.

I also have this little halogen desk lamp that can point anywhere:

desk lamp

and I have anything I can find around the house, buy for less than $40 off craigslist, or build.

I've tried pointing the 500W away from me at the wall/ceiling with the halogen as a backlight and the 71W as a fill, but it hasn't looked great. I think I need a filter/diffuser, and I'm thinking of using a white bedsheet, but I'm not sure if that will work or if there is some other DIY trick that would work better.

How would you arrange these lights to do basic three point shots?


2 Answers 2


Your main issue is that you are using different temperature lighting between the three lights. Don't do that. Go buy 3 bare bulbed workshop lights from the hardware store. Soften them with sheets or fabric from the fabric store(yes, it's that easy). You should come in way under $40. You could even get some nice daylight temperature bulbs and still hit your budget.

This is one option to setup three point lighting(wikipedia): enter image description here

  • \$\begingroup\$ What is a bare bulbed workshop light? Does this mean a bulb that has clear glass? I saw one in the store today, but nearly bought the "frosted" one instead, but then gave up and bought neither! Also, how should I soften them with sheets? Should I bounce the light off of them? Hang them up and shine light through them? Or just attach them to the front of the light? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22, 2013 at 3:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, "clamp work light" might be a more appropriate term. See this for reference: amazon.com/Bayco-SL-300N4-Clamp-Aluminum-Reflector/dp/… To soften yes you can bounce or you can shoot directly through, both will soften the light. You could also point them at a white wall if that is an option and bounce it off of the wall. The options are endless. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Jan 22, 2013 at 3:47

Bedsheets do work as diffusers. I strongly suggest you get some small stands, such as these: http://mpex.com/lumopro-lp605-7ft-compact-light-stand.html which are only $40. You will need to be able to move your lights and position them repeatedly. Plus, they are no more expensive than your hacked up desk light.

I'm not sure what you mean by 3-point lighting, but I'd expect you'd need three lights. What do you plan to use as the third?

Most folks start with three similar light/bulbs. The watt ratings are not really all that important, what you care about are lumens and the shape of the light.

  • \$\begingroup\$ 2 A80's + 1 Desk Lamp = 3 lights. Right? Both answers have mentioned that I only have two lights though... does the desk light not count? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22, 2013 at 3:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @brentonstrine - Your formatting of the question with images inline just made it hard to read that you do in fact have three lights. I corrected my answer earlier when I noticed that. And no, the desk lamp doesn't really count either! \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Jan 22, 2013 at 3:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the explanation. I tried to clarify the post a little, maybe I made it more convoluted though! I will see if I can find some stands like that used--I'm in LA so I bet there's tons of old Hollywood gear that gets sold around. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22, 2013 at 6:04

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