The Larry Peters Eyelighter creates beautiful clamshell lighting with a unique curved catchlight in the eye. I took a shot at making my own, since I shoot mostly on location and wasn’t eager to invest in more studio gear that I may or may not use. Plus making stuff is just fun. At the time I wrote this post, the Eyelighters weren’t even available for purchase, but since that time, Westcott started manufacturing them and they are more readily available.
I made this for $0 out of items I had on hand. If I made a second one I would probably do a few things different, since I really didn’t plan this out. It was really more of a “Hey, I think I’ll make an eyelighter today.”
Here is a photo created with my DIY reflector. Overall I am pretty happy with the results considering I don’t shoot a lot in the studio:
List of materials:
-2 pieces of 1/2″ insulation board from Lowes. I used 2’x4′ pieces so it would be small enough to take on location, but a 5′ or 6′ length might work better.
4/23/15 Update: The insulation board that Lowes sells now is a little more rigid than when I made mine, and some people are having difficulty bending it. Home Depot sells 1/2 in. Owens Corning insulation board that is very flexible and should work nicely for this project.
-Liquid nails (or another way to glue two pieces of insulation board together)
-Mylar (or any other reflective surface like a car sunshade, a thermal blanket, or a even a white surface for a more subtle effect. I think you can even find insulation that is reflective and kill two birds with one stone) I bought mine online here
-Duct tape (black or white)
-Clamps (I love my cheapie Cowboy Studio clamps. They smell funny but I have three teenagers and a cat so it’s no big deal)
-Fabric or string to hold the reflector while the glue is drying.
This list does not include a way to mount the reflector. I now use my superclamp and a swivel bracket. Before that I just made one of my kids hold it. (They weren’t happy but ask me how much THAT bothered me).
This guy has a good way for mounting and a different way a creating a DIY eyelighter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22xwGhk3Kho
The “Real” Eyelighter is definitely more durable and professional looking, but considering everything I own is covered in duct tape anyway, I really don’t have any issues with clients seeing my DIY gear.
1) Glue the two pieces of insulation together using liquid nails or other adhesive. Having two pieces is what holds the curvature (a bunch of boring math and physics that you don’t really want to hear).
2) Bend the boards to have a curve with a radius of about 2 ft.
3) Clamp together for roughly 24 hours using a string or fabric around the insulation to hold the shape.
4) Once the adhesive is set, remove the clamps and cut the edges of the the foam with a razor for a smooth edge.
5) Cut the mylar or other reflective material slightly larger than the reflector surface size. I wrinkled up the mylar so that it wouldn’t be so mirror-like.
6) Spray adhesive on the insulation and lay the mylar evenly, starting from the center. If I made another I would put a small piece of sheet metal about 3″x4″ at the top center of the front and back to reinforce the foam from the compression of the superclamp.
7) Trim the mylar and finish the edges with duct tape. Cut slits in the tape so that it will lay flat.
8) Enjoy your new curved reflector!
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