Why You Should Learn About Lighting BEFORE Buying Lights For YouTube


I learned this the hard way. I made the mistake of buying a ring light after I saw so many YouTubers raving about them. The light I got is nice for the money, however looking back on it now, it was totally the wrong choice for my channel. I would have been better off with a couple of softbox lights, or even one.

After I got my ring light, the first thing I quickly noticed was the horrible refection on my glasses. This should be a warning to all looking to talk to the camera who wear glasses. You can’t use a ring light. At least not in a traditional way (more about this later). Disappointed, I started watching some YouTube videos on ways to avoid glasses reflections with lighting. The suggested position the light at an angle from above then using a reflector to bounce light to the other side of my face. This helped me a little bit, but I was still getting reflections in the glasses. Also the lighting quality, even though brighter wasn’t really better. My skin seemed to look really harsh and I seemed to age like 5 years on camera! See the video below for an example.

Luckily I live in NYC, and YouTube has one of their “YouTube Spaces” here. Which is a great place that has a massive video studio and offers free classes to those who are interested and qualify. I got accepted into their course “Lighting for Vlogs” taught by Misael Sanchez, of The International Film Institute of NY. It was a hands on 3 hour course where I basically learned everything I was doing was wrong.

First off, my ring light was throwing the wrong temperature light for the type of shooting I was doing, which is why my skin tone was looking so bad. It came with some orange looking covers for it, that I thought were some kind of special effect thing and ignored them, but turns out I should have been using them all along! The light I was using was balanced for outdoor usage (5500k), but by using the amber orange looking covers, I can change my ring light to being balanced to indoor temperature (around 3200k).

Also in the course I learned how much of a difference defusing the light source can make. We setup an example in the class with a student in glasses, with only a single high / front angled bright softbox, and it looked great and no reflections! I snapped the pic below of the setup.

The good news was I can still use my ring light, I just had to make some adjustments by installing the 3200k light covers, and made a simple DIY defuser from Wax Paper (see below).


I then took my modded ring light and set it as high as the stand could go and further away than before in my tiny room to try to replicate the setup shown above at YouTube Space and got much better results! See the video below where I used this setup. There’s still a bit of reflections in my glasses, but this is because I just don’t have the space in my apartment to offset it enough. They are not there unless I look up too. Also, my skin tone is MUCH BETTER now.

It is still not perfect, but it is a drastic improvement!

So the moral of the story is LEARN BEFORE YOU BUY!

Here’s some books on lighting to help you get started. I know I’m doing a lot more research before I buy anything else for lighting!

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