DIY Photography: Ikea Macro Lighting

Ikea JansjoI was in Ikea the other day when I stumbled across the JANSJÖ desk light for a laughably cheap $10. Sometimes Ikea's pricing is just weird: this version of the lamp is $10 but the same lamp with a clamp base, or a wall mount instead of a weighted one is $30. It's basically the same light for a third of the price.

Once I got over the bargain price I realized how useful the Jansjo might me for table top studio photography. The Jansjo is a 4watt LED bulb at the end of a very long, thin goose neck. It produces a very clean, focused light source while remaining relatively cool. We think of LEDs being a very efficient, cold light source but when one is producing this much light there is some heat loss and, although to can comfortably take hold of the lamp and position it even when it has been lit for some time, it is warm to the touch.

In my table top photography I've found that it is a relatively simple matter to light that high-key, floating on white look. Basically, you stick the item in a softbox and then flood it with light and you end up with something like this:

Portrait of George Taylor
Example of flat white light in a softbox
If you want something a little more controlled to bring out modelling in your subject you need to be able to control the position, direction and relative strength of your light sources. The Jansjo lights are perfect for playing with this kind of setup. Not are they cheap but their long, thin goose-neck supports and heavy bases make them simple to position and adjust. The next picture is a similar subject to the previous soft box shot but this time I used 3 point lighting for the subject and a couple of broader lights for the background:

F-86 Sabre Pilot, Col. Walker "Bud" Mahurin
Example of directional light from the Ikea LED lights

Table Top Portrait Studio
Ikea Jansjo lights being used to create
the above action figure portrait
Both kinds of lighting setups have their place but the little Jansjos are now a favorite of mine for macro and table top photography. During the work week the 4 lights I have have the life of standard task lights on my desk but some evenings and weekends they can quickly be re-purposed for use in my desk top studio. Just remember to manually set your white balance with these lights - they're a little warmer than you might expect.

Highly recommended

6 comments:

  1. Top tip Martin, haven't been to Ikea for ages but i will have to get myself a couple of these. Am impressed with the results you got.

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  2. Love it! The setup you have there gives it such a natural "sunlit" look ;-) I'm going to Ikea and getting some of those!

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  3. I can't believe that there is something like this in IKEA. The JANSJÖ desk light gives off a small light and gives off a "sunlit" look.

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  4. thanks for the tip!!! I have been looking for a goose neck lamp and didn't even think of IKEA....Genius!

    www.tinyfrockshop.com

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  5. I know this post is a couple of years old, but thank you thank you! IKEA now sells the clip versions of these lights for $14.99 and I was thinking of picking 2 up for my tabletop setup where I shoot mostly toys and crafts. I was second guessing myself, so I googled and found this post. Brilliant! I'll be getting two of them this weekend thanks to you! IKEA needs to send you a commission check!

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