Make a $10 DIY Disco Light Modifier for Round-Head Flashes
Controlling and modifying light is a lot of what photographing with studio lights and battery-powered strobes is about. Especially when it comes to portraits, I like to work with my lighting setups so they add something that is not perfect or flat.
Twisting and turning your lights to make use of the edges is one very effective way of doing that. Breaking up the light with a scrim, gobo, or something else is also very rewarding.
This do-it-yourself project is all about a cheap prism from an LED Disco Party Bulb that I found for under $10.
A Cheap Disco Light Bulb
While looking through a store in Stockholm for fun things to modify light with, I found this disco light that fits in a regular lamp socket. I think it might be the same as this bulb I found on Amazon for $9.99.
A quick visual inspection showed me that the plastic prism on top felt like it would fit perfectly on a Profoto A1 with its round head.
Remove the Bottom, Keep the Top
It was a perfect fit on my Profoto A1, just inside the outer ring. But removing it completely from the original mount on the LED lamp was not that easy. Pinch and pull and wiggle, and the top will come loose.
When you have removed the plastic prism, there will be a rod left inside screwed to the top that was a lot harder to remove.
A Not-so-Elegant Solution
To remove that rod (if you don’t, it will be long enough to make it hard to have the prism on your A1), I had to drill a few small holes around the screw to be able to wiggle it free.
But then it fit perfectly outside the Fresnel lens of the A1. To make it easy, I just attached it with tape. A more elegant solution would, of course, be some kind of magnet, but that I save for version two.
Nice Light Patterns
When you have it attached to your Profoto A1 (it might fit on the new Godox with the same round head, maybe?) it opens up all kinds of possibilities to light a background.
Put it close to a wall from the side, or aim it straight at something for one kind of light effect. Have it further away for something else.
Use the Zoom Function on Profoto A1
You can create a lot of different patterns and effects from the same angle and position just by zooming the head of your A1.
Cool Lighting Effects with Filters
Do you have a roll of color gel laying around? Cut it in small pieces and tape it inside of the prism, maybe more that one color?
No Rainbow Prism Effect
The only downside with this combination of a Profoto A1 and a cheap plastic prism from a disco bulb is that you will probably not get any rainbow patterns.
I never went so far as to remove the Fresnel lens of my A1, so the light source is a bit too big and filtered for that effect to happen.
Good for Smoke Effects?
I have not tried this in combination with smoke yet, but I’m guessing that it will be useful for that purpose.
A Cheap Way to Get Fun Light
Every solution that makes my lighting more fun is always welcome, and I found this to be exactly that. It was $10 for a piece of plastic that might not produce perfect prismatic effects but is good enough. If you want to modify your light in a cheap and easy way, I can recommend buying something like this.
With a simple mask, it should fit any flash head, speedlight, or studio light. I’m guessing this one might also fit without modification on the new Godox.
About the author: Stefan Tell is a portrait photographer based in Stockholm, Sweden. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Tell’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here and here.