How to Use $30 Dimmable LED Bulbs to get Into Studio Still Life Photography for Cheap

If you’re just getting into studio photography, trying to figure out how to light, shoot and set up your shots can be both frustrating and expensive. After all, if you’re trying to take high-quality studio shots, you need high end strobes and all sorts of other gear, right?

Maybe not. Of course high end equipment helps, but in the video above, photographer Alex Koloskov of Photigy shows you how you can light studio still life shots using a few $30 dimmable LED bulbs instead of strobes.

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Admittedly, the point of the video is rendered a tiny bit moot when you realize that Koloskov has chosen to take his sample shots with a medium format camera that costs just a tad more than those $30 bulbs, but there is still lots to learn here if you ignore that fact.

In the 11 minute video — the first in a series he is creating to help photographers who are just getting started in studio still photography — he talks about the bulbs and how you can set them up, shows you his setup for photographing a vase of flowers, and then goes through the final shots with you.

Check out the full video at the top or head over to Photigy for more info on where you can get these light bulbs for yourself. And if this whet your appetite for more cheap product shot ideas, definitely take a look at DIYPhotography‘s great article on product photography using light painting and a black granite tile.

  • Rexroth

    It’s funny how spending $30 on a lightbulb for its intended use around the home sounds like a hell of a lot of money, but to put into context next to lights that cost much more, it sounds like a bargain

  • Kaleido Skop

    cant find very same model of this led bulb

    any ideas?

  • madmax

    I´d better do this than spending a lot of money to pay a brand name. Continuous lighting is better for still life photography and maybe less harmful than strobes for your model´s eyes if properly diffused. In fact I use continuous lighting for portraiture and very satisfied with results.

  • eths

    While Alex has the right idea, in showing how one can create good imagery without spending a huge amount of money, I see one problem with his approach. So called white LEDs have a very unbalanced, virtually non-continuous color spectrum, meaning that the color reproduction will be negatively influenced and not be fixable just with simple white balancing.

  • doitnow

    Pro photographers complain business is slow, and less and less people are willing to pay for pro photography.

    Pro photographers create tutorials and do-it-yourself videos and put them online for everyone to see.

    Am I the only one seeing the problem here? From what I know, there aren’t many carpenters, plumbers or electricians explaining their trade online “so everybody can do it”. That’s why they can charge us through the roof whenever we need something done at home.

    I think we all need to learn from this example.

  • Scott

    Actually you can find tons of that stuff on YouTube. I regularly look there for ideas on repairs to the stuff you’ve mentioned.

    They may not have the depth or video/audio quality of some of the photography stuff but it’s out there.

    The thing protecting those people is that they are professional trades and require education, a licence and more then a $500-1000 investment to get started.

    Also they have plenty of work so they don’t need to turn to educating amateurs for extra income ;)

  • Dave

    Yes… wasn’t there an article just days ago talking about the differences in spectrum between LED and Tungsten lighting? Incandescent light would be cheaper and provide a better spectrum. Or am I missing something?

  • Doctajones

    Simple really: “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.”

    Or in this case, spoils everybody elses work by showing people how to do it for free, and with “cheap LED lighting”, no less.

  • Alan Klughammer

    if, as a photographer, all you are charging for is a few tips and tricks you saw on youtube, you are doing it wrong!!
    A pro (or even talented amateur) photographer goes well beyond the technical. Look at someone like Chase Jarvis. He shows how he did a shoot and everyone says, “Oh I could do that” but they didn’t. I see many wannabes completely stumped by a mildly difficult shoot, whereas a pro can think outside the box and get the shot.

  • Matias Gonua

    Can’t believe the mediocrity in the comments. First of all, you can find tutorials about almost anything. Second of all, photography is a craft, there are NO secrets, and thinking that being greedy with the information will get you some sort of advantage, it will not. Sharing is far more enriching than keeping a couple of tips for yourself.

    If you think that giving away some tips on how to light or how to frame will put you indisadvantage, you have serious confidence issues. If your style is so weak that it depends on that, you should be worrying about many other things than giving away some tips for free.

  • JT

    Avedon: piece of white paper, tape, tri–x overexposed 1 stop, over processed by 2 stops, in studio single over head umbrella, outdoors open shade, silver card…, there go be Avedon.

  • BrokenHelix79

    I’m so tired of that notion.

    Koloskov is one of many who prove day in and day out that he’s a photo wizard. What exactly is your definition of “doing”, then? He’s making money taking pictures. It just happens to be pictures that he uses for education. So, in order to be a “real” photographer, one must live in a box and struggle every day? A lot of the best photography educators are also successful photographers in their own right, who can run circles around most of the armchair photographers who make comments like yours. I’m not saying you’re an armchair photographer, but your comment smacks of spitefulness and jealousy.

  • BrokenHelix79

    Exactly! These videos aren’t damaging to professionals, because at the end of the day, only a few people out of the hundreds or thousands who watch them are going to actually go out and try their hand at recreating what they saw in the videos. And of that handful, fewer still will be successful at it. It takes a WORKING photographer with daily experience and commitment to get the end results you see in these videos.

  • Anna Henson

    Dude. YouTube is litterally full of carpenters, plumbers, and electricians with DIY videos.

  • Mantis

    On point.

  • Don Tusk

    Awesome comment. It’s so true.

  • SJ Fotography

    Knowledge is meant to share, and then it’s valued. When you share your knowledge are leading and building a community that can serve the world with your knowledge and that way you only get better.


    This only works in situations where the subject is always at a constant
    distance from the camera, such as in still life or landscapes.

  • Pick a name

    Spot on!

    All the other commenters have no idea how to run a business to put bread on the table for your family. “Sharing knowledge is more benefitial than keeping that knowledge for yourself” bla bla bla wrong wrong wrong.

    Successful Hairdressers don’t teach their customers how to style their hair at home. Successful electricians don’t send their clients links to youtube videos and hardware stores to explain what tools to buy, etc.

    (sorry, English is a second language to me)

  • Swallow

    You obviously have no idea how to run a business.

    However, your Internet commenting skills seem above average. Can you make some tutorials about how to comment, and put them online for free? Thanks.

  • ali

    thanks so much