Learn How to Build a DIY Ring Light Using a Bucket of Fried Chicken

DIY ring lightIf you're like me and don't know what to do with all of those empty fried chicken buckets piling up on your kitchen counter (okay, not really -- I know exactly what to do with them), DIY Photography has shared a great DIY (naturally) lighting solution that repurposes said greasy poultry receptacles into a formidable ring flash. And even though it's designed to be used for flash photography, it should translate well to video. So, find out how to put it together using a cardboard bucket, aluminum foil, a plastic folder, and some tape right after the jump.

There are plenty of ring light solutions out there, plenty to buy and plenty to build, but this DIY option is awesome, because it utilizes stuff that you're likely to have lying around your house -- especially after a football game or BBQ (or just a random Thursday night). Laya Gerlock of DIY Photography walks us through this build, which he says will take you around 2 hours to complete. Here are the materials he used:


  • A fried chicken bucket (his was from a 12pcs chicken bucket meal)
  • Scissors/Cutter
  • Aluminum foil (he also suggests a better solution: aluminum tape)
  • Tape and double stick tape
  • Tracing paper
  • A pen
  • Plastic folder/illustration board (optional to be used for the snoot part of the ring flash)

DIY Photography has a step by step photo tutorial that you're going to want to follow, but what you'll essentially do is first cut off the top 1 1/5 inches of the bucket, take that piece and cut out a rectangular portion 2 inches wide to allow the light to enter. You'll then add a smaller circular piece in the center, thus forming the "ring" that will make it a ring light. It'll look something like this:


You'll need to build a snoot in order to carry the light from your light source to the actual ring (the process you can check out on the DIY Photography post). But Gerlock says you can use material from the rest of the bucket, but he also says he prefers to use old plastic folders or illustration board. 

This is what your ring light will look like when you're done:



And here are a couple of examples of what your images could look like (this should translate to video, too):



If you don't have a fried chicken bucket on hand, there are certainly many other ways to pull this off -- even just using cardboard from something other than a fried chicken bucket! I'm thinking even some heavy card stock could do the trick if you had large enough sheets.

Do you have any ideas on how to pull this off in a different way? Have you ever done this before? How did it work for you?

Link: Repurposing a KFC Fried Chicken Dinner as a DIY Ring Flash -- DIY Photography

[via Filmmaker IQ]

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Your Comment


For DIY photo lights, go search http://strobist.blogspot.com

May 29, 2014 at 10:50PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


All good DIY projects begin with eating a bucket of fried chicken.

May 30, 2014 at 8:52AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Just what every shoot needs: Greasy hands and the smell of old, fried food.

May 30, 2014 at 9:48AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I'm sure you could go to KFC and just ask for an extra bucket if you order something.

I always encourage creativity and thinking outside the box and do many DIY rigs myself. But, IMO, its not really a ring light as much as just a specialized soft box/ diffuser. The thing that is lacking, from his sample images is that beautiful ring you get in the eyes or on other reflective surfaces (like sunglasses) with a true ring light.


May 30, 2014 at 10:15AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Looks really PRO! Probably because of all the tape. Does it have to be KFC or could you also use a bucket from Popeye's?

May 30, 2014 at 12:47PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Oh yeah sure, I have done it with a garden 1 Gallon Galvanized Steel Watering Can (easy).

May 30, 2014 at 2:25PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Only person who would like to see this contraption on set would be the guitarist BucketHead.

May 30, 2014 at 12:49PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I've built almost this exact one for video, except I used a round plastic food container (like Tupperware) so it's a bit more durable. Then instead of cutting a hole in the side for the light to enter, I bought a 10 foot led rope light and coiled it around the inside. Works great and I use it all time. It needs to be plugged into an outlet though...

May 30, 2014 at 12:55PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Mike H

But that defeats the purpose, you won't get that Finger lickin' good food? Mind you, you can always In your tupperware put your crunchy peanut butter and jelly sandwich and eat them the way Mom made them?The added bonus : You can have fun coloring your fingers purple.
Anyway, love your practical sense (I will steal that).

May 30, 2014 at 2:46PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


When I saw the image I was like wow! A toilet roll light, holy sh!!!t ...

May 31, 2014 at 12:12PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


This is awesome!!! I can eve fit my larger lenses in it. Does it look professional though? :)

May 31, 2014 at 2:09PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Uh, why would someone want to build a ring light?

Even if it meant fulfilling your daily requirement of 3 of the 4 Southern food groups? Fat, salt, sugar (yep, one of the secret herbs and spices) - everything except alcohol!

Except for shooting closeups for the Medical Examiner, I can't imagine a less flattering and more unrealistic light source.

May 31, 2014 at 10:02PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


they're really popular in music videos.

May 31, 2014 at 10:37PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM



May 31, 2014 at 10:38PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Could anyone suggest the constant light source to use for videos? I can see that flashguns is good enough for stills.. but video...?

June 11, 2014 at 9:48AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


calories burned walking 2 miles in 35 minutes

June 12, 2014 at 12:59AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM