The frustration of having such a small window of daylight through which to shoot and film blog content has been real this winter; leading me to take the inevitable plunge and purchase my first artificial light. Without boring you with too many details, I did a little research and settled on the Walimex Beauty Ring Light, which I actually ended up buying second hand for a more reasonable £30. I'm not a full time blogger and I genuinely do favour the effect that natural daylight has in photographs and videos so I knew I didn't want to spend a fortune on something that wouldn't ever be a daily essential. Finding information on which kind of light to buy was actually really difficult, so I decided to write a quick overview of my own experiences.
While many of my favourite YouTubers do disclose the equipment they use, I was sure that I didn't want to part with too much cash when buying a light. I still take all shots and videos during the day; I simply wanted something that would give the lighting a little bit of a boost - particularly on grey or cloudy days. If you're looking to shoot in the evening, I would expect that you would need to spend a hefty amount of cash in order to get a similar effect to using daylight. Since an artificial lamp has little capacity to fill an entire room in the same way that natural light does, you'd probably need more than one light in place to create the same effect; with a couple of extra lamps facing into the background being your best bet. I find that with just one light, shooting when the daylight has gone can be a little trickier. The effect looks a lot more artificial and the harsh light isn't particularly flattering, either. Diffusers can help (usually a piece of white fabric that fits over the lamp and softens the light a little) although if I'm honest I don't see a huge difference with mine.
If, like me, you're after a temporary solution and want to add a little somethin' somethin' to videos filmed in the winter gloom, there are lots of options out there. The first (and probably the cheapest) is umbrella lighting. These kind of do what they say on the tin, bouncing the light into an umbrella and diffusing it for a larger, softer effect. At one point I had a go at making my own, although once I calculated the price of the stand, a daylight bulb (those things are bloody expensive) and an umbrella fit for the job it would have been far cheaper to buy the set online anyway. A softbox lamp works in a similar way, reflecting the light and diffusing it so that it fills the space and gives a more soft-focus finish to the subject. Again, there are lots of tutorials online that encourage you to try your hand at making your own softbox lighting system; but speaking from experience the results don't really match up.
Overall, unless you're into blogging for the long haul I probably wouldn't say it's worth investing in artificial lighting. Considering that mine would cost almost £200 new (insane) I just don't feel as though the results justify the price. In fact, due to the effort of setting it all up I tend to just go without for the majority of the time. Saying that, a camera shop nearby offers a 'try before you buy' system on studio lighting, so it's worth having a look around your area for similar schemes. I'd say that it's really about playing around with lighting in order to find a solution that works for you - not always easy considering the hefty price tags involved. As with most things eBay and Gumtree are great places to start, or you could enquire about renting equipment in the short term. If all else fails, pray for Spring.