Want to shoot indoor “natural light” photos… at night? All you have to do is build yourself an artificial sun. That sounds wild, but it’s actually neither too difficult nor too expensive — this 24-minute tutorial by DIY Perks will teach you exactly how it can be done.
Sunlight has unique qualities that ordinary artificial lighting can’t reproduce. For example, the distance of the Sun to Earth causes the light rays to be essentially parallel by the time they reach us, which results in things like shadows that don’t change in size depending on distance.
This property of sunlight can be recreated using a lens that takes an artificial light source and makes the light rays parallel.
What you’ll need for this artificial sun build is a parabolic reflector — you may be able to find a cheap or free one by repurposing a satellite dish (like the kind you’ll find on the side or top of houses). To make it reflective to visible light, you can cover the surface with mirror film.
For his artificial sun, Matt of DIY Perks used a powerful 500W LED that costs $499, but you can find much cheaper LEDs out there that should suffice.
While the concept of building this artificial sunlight source may be simple enough, you’ll need to figure out how to properly cool your powerful LED light.
Finally, to complete the artificial sunlight effect, Matt creates a blue soapy liquid in a fake window to scatter the “sunlight” in the same way our atmosphere does.
The completely fake sun and window combo creates a light that can trick your brain into thinking it’s real sunlight. Here are some still frames showing Matt’s artificial sunlight in a room with no natural light:
So if you’ve been looking for a way to shoot “natural light” photos in rain or shine during day or night, watch the full video above to see the complete step-by-step on how to build this “sun” for your own home or studio. You can also find more of Matt’s DIY videos on his popular YouTube channel.