Studio Photography: Building a Light Panel

by John H. Siskin

Light Panel
Light Panel
© John H. Siskin
All Rights Reserved


3 pieces 10 foot PVC pipe 3/4-inch schedule 40 (thatís the thick stuff)

4 pieces T connectors

2 pieces straight connectors

2 pieces corner connectors

4 pieces end caps

2 yards, plus a little white cotton broad cloth, 42 inch wide

1-foot elastic strip

Glue, PVC glue, any PVC glue. Try to use the PVC glue outdoors.

Glue, white glue wood glue something along that line.

You can get all this stuff at Lowes or Home Depot, or a bunch of other places; itís not rare.

How to Assemble

Cut the PVC in to the following lengths

2 pieces 42 inches

4 pieces 36 inches

2 pieces 6 inches

4 pieces 10 inches

Light Panel Foot.  This shows how to assemble the foot for the light panel.
Light Panel Foot. This shows how to assemble the foot for the light panel.
© John H. Siskin
All Rights Reserved


Only glue a PVC connector to one side of pipe except on the feet

2 corner connectors to the same piece of 42 inch PVC

1 straight connector to one piece of 36 inch PVC, make 2 of these. You should have 2 pieces of 36 inch PVC without any connectors and 2 pieces with one straight connector on each.

2 T connectors to one piece of 42 inch PVC. You want to glue the PVC into the hole that is at a right angle to the straight through hole.

If you have trouble with this put the thing together without glue. It should be a rectangle 42 inches by 72 inches. When you are through it should come apart easily to go into an equipment bag. You might try this with the feet also, before you use glue.

The feet will fit into the open holes on the second piece of 42 inch PVC.

Take 2 of the 10 inch pieces of PVC and glue them into the straight through sides of a T connector. Glue an end cap onto each of these. Glue a piece of 6 inch PVC onto the open side of the connector; this will fit into the bottom of the frame you just made.

Now the fabric. You will want to finish up with a piece of reflective gold or silver or white cotton broad cloth that is tight in the frame, so measure the frame! Make your hems with glue; this should enable you to use up any extra fabric. Cotton glues well, nylon doesnít, so if you use nylon youíll probably need to sew these ends.

Sew pieces of the elastic ribbon on each corner; this will hold it onto the frame.

You have made a useful photographic tool. Weíll see how useful in the coming weeks!

About Author / Instructor / Photographer, John H. Siskin
Photography Instructor: John H. SiskinJohn Siskin is a commercial and fine art photographer who makes architectural, portrait and macro images. He has worked for General Motors and Disney Studios. He teaches the BetterPhoto course An Introduction to Photographic Lighting and is the author of the book Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers.

In addition, he teaches studio lighting black and white photography at Los Angeles Mission College. His studio is in Reseda California and more of his work can be seen at

His work has been part of many exhibits. His photographs have been shown at the Brand Library, 2nd City Art Gallery, Haroldís Gallery, Farmani Gallery, and The Atelier. He has been a participant in the Valley Studio Tour several times.

John has published quite a number of technical articles about photography. His articles have appeared in Photo Techniques, View Camera, Studio Photography and others. He has written about photographic lighting, building lenses, framing, photographic lab work, building cameras, as well as some more speculative photographic subjects. Since he is so well versed in photographic subjects, he is often hired as a consultant by businesses.