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Old December 19th, 2006, 09:33 AM   #1
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Has anyone ever softened a Home Depot work light like this?

Hi all. . .

I picked up a two-headed Home Depot work light to do some experimenting with while I build a serious light kit.

The light from the work light is nice and bright, but it is surely harsh. Some people have suggested putting baking paper or shower curtains in front of these lights to soften them up, but both of those solutions sounded dangerous to me, so I opted to do something a bit differently.

Since I can't find any frosted heat-resistant borosilicate (pyrex) glass panes to cut out to replace the stock work light glass, I decided to have the stock glass sandblasted to provide a frosty surface. Talk about softening up the light. . . it works great! Granted, there is some light loss (but surely no worse than the parchment paper or shower curtain), but the gain in softness more than makes up for the loss in illumination.

Anyway, I just wanted to know if anyone else has ever done this and what their experience with it was.

Sincerely,

Stephen
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Old December 19th, 2006, 10:15 AM   #2
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Not a bad idea. I'm thinking of using a garment rack with shower curtian rings and a cotton bedsheet. May look ugly, but I think it will get the job done.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 11:35 AM   #3
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Wouldn't that make it heavy and fragile?
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Old December 19th, 2006, 11:57 AM   #4
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I've used worklights al lot, and I've always just clothes-pinned a 12" x 12" diffusion filter in-front of the light. Sometimes for an extra soft light I'll use two diffusion gels with a little space in the middle, but one diffusion gels usually works out fine. I bought a variety pack of Bogen filters at the local still photo store and have been extremely haply with the results. The only thing to watch out for is to make sure that there is a little space between the light and the gel, so the gel doesn't catch fire. The gels run about $20-$25 here for a pack of 12. The other colors in the pack come in handy too.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 05:05 PM   #5
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If you want much softer light, you could bounce it. Take some crinkled tinfoil onto a big piece of cardboard. The tinfoil makes the bounce light pretty directional (compared to other bounce sources except for mirrors) so it's pretty powerful (again, compared to other bounce sources).

This takes no effort, but does require a C-stand and gives you a much softer light (if you prefer that).

2- For some other situations, professional lights are much more convenient. They may:
Have less spill / easier to control the spill
Can be mounted from a ceiling
Have longer / controllable throw
Put out more light / concentrate it where you want it
The shadows can be 'cut' better (i.e. they make shadows with nice hard edges). Fresnel and ellipsoidal lights do this.

If you're simply bouncing the light off something, then worklights should be fine. They might spill a little light; if you don't want that, you can put blackwrap around the light.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 05:32 PM   #6
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depending on how much room you have, you could throw a white bedsheet (or shower curtain) across the space between on some stands...the light should cone out a bit before it hits the sheet and then get softened, so it becomes a much larger light source (softer).
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Old December 20th, 2006, 08:32 PM   #7
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I'm telling you. . . playing with these sandblasted work lights is incredible! Talk about a beautiful, soft light! Really amazing. . . all those little sandblasted holes make for a positively delicious diffusion grating. . . and with no attachments, no change in the light's color temperature.

I'm sold. I'm gonna buy a few more of these things and head back to the sandblaster!

Stephen
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Old December 20th, 2006, 10:12 PM   #8
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IIRC, you can buy a frosted lens for those lights from craftsman (I think it was in the documentation for replacement parts)...but sandblasting one your self would be lots cheaper. You can even buy spray cans of sandblasting stuff.
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Old December 21st, 2006, 09:21 AM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford
Not a bad idea. I'm thinking of using a garment rack with shower curtian rings and a cotton bedsheet. May look ugly, but I think it will get the job done.
People, please, please, please, be extra careful using flammable materials in front of these lights (or any lights). They get EXTREMELY HOT and can easily cause flammable materials to easily catch fire.

Stick with materials that have been designed for use with these hight intensity lights!

SAFETY FIRST!
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Old December 21st, 2006, 09:32 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Gladwell
People, please, please, please, be extra careful using flammable materials in front of these lights (or any lights). They get EXTREMELY HOT and can easily cause flammable materials to easily catch fire.
Absolutely. I've had gels melt when clipped to these Home Depot lights. I only use the bedsheet method for diffusing sunlight. But I have used the shower curtain method, but I always had it held or clamped several feet away from the Home Depot lights. Another OT concern is to make sure you don't put the Home Depot garage worklights too close to an actor or a crew member. Oil on the bulb (even accidental oil from the touching it with your fingers) can cause the bulbs to burst. Had this happen once, but thankfully only once.

I do like the idea of the sandblasted glass though.
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Old December 21st, 2006, 01:35 PM   #11
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What ESPN uses

A freidn of mine works at ESPN here in Bristol. He told me they use dryer - the sheets as an imprmptu diffuser. Yep, the fabric softener sheets throw in the clothes dryer.

They're made of a spun material that apparently is fire retardent.
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Old December 21st, 2006, 05:06 PM   #12
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When using things like shower curtains and bedsheets, be sure that there is some airspace between your light and the diffusion material. With a 1Kw source a couple of feet should be okay. If you go to a nearby rental house you can probably buy a partial roll of Gridcloth, or shower curtain type material. Lee and Rosco make all sorts of roll goods that are four feet wide and twenty-five feet long, plus the usual sheets. You can probably find a short roll and pay by the foot. Gridcloth densities are: full, half and quarter. There are also hundreds of other colors, diffusion, color correction and light balancing gels to choose from.

Get some PVC, or aluminum pipe and elbows and make your own diffusion frame. Check out Matthews, Chimera, Avenger, American and see their products. Other manufacturers include Modern and Norms, both in L.A. Norms doesn't really have a website, but I think they still offer a discount with C.O.D. shipping. All of these companies produce excellent grip gear.

One thing about softness: in addition to diffusion, the size of the light source relative to the size of the subject and the distance of that light source to the subject. A large source close to the subject will be very soft and the light will wrap around. If you back the same source away from the subject, it's eventually become harder because it's size relative to the subject is diminishing. Light travels in a straight line.
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Old December 23rd, 2006, 04:12 AM   #13
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Sandblast?

Diffusion comes in many flavors.... Check out this cute light:

http://www.cooperlighting.com/images...ent/PHL300.jpg

These are really cool "Painter's Lights" with diffused glass plus dual 150/300 output and can be found at your local HD/Lowes/Ace places for $29 or so. They're either Cooper or Regent brand model PHL-300. Ideal for cyc lighting from ground level or hanging from overheads with the swivel base. Add a light stand adaptor and make them as ubiquitious as an Omni or Tota. They're easily bounced for even better spread.

Mods that make them even more useful are a rotary dimmer instead of the hi/lo switch (don't forget to white balance!) and a flag or two for limiting the spread. The cords are detachable so any extension cord can be used. Neat item with a cute industrial design and cheaper by the dozen at any electrical supplier that reps Cooper. You'll want more than one.
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Old December 24th, 2006, 10:30 AM   #14
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And to happy them up for on set use, you can get black spray paint for the inside of grills (heat friendly) to matte black the exteriors of them.
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Old December 24th, 2006, 12:58 PM   #15
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Frosted glass scrims are available for the Lowel lights as well.

In terms of cheap diffusion material, bakers parchment is a good quick soft look. I've used rolls of it over the years. Just keep a roll in your gaffers kit. Never had it burn or brown.
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