1. Empty Pringles can
2. White sheet of printer paper
(Must already have a flash unit and a way to fire it off-camera.)
1. Ruler / straightedge
2. Utility knife
3. Pen / marker
I used the ruler and Sharpie marker to mark a rectangle on the side of the can. I matched my vertical lines with the edges of the nutritional information table, just for ease. I marked the first horizontal line 1.5 inches from the bottom of the can, and the next one 5.5 inches beyond that. Then I used the utility knife to cut along the lines. (It’s easier if you cut around first, and then up.)
The paper will spread on its own to fill the cylinder.
Then stick a flash unit into the can’s opening. I used a Canon 420EX Speedlite in the images below; its head was the perfect fit for the Pringles can. (It’s not snug, but there’s very little wiggle room.) For a larger flash, like my favorite LumoPro LP160 or the Canon 580EX, you’ll be out of luck with this project. And I’ve been told that several Nikon flash units are smaller, so you’ll want to cut the lid to help hold the flash’s head in place. (See image below).
Now you’ve got a cheap strip light, ready to work.
Note: The Canon 420EX that I used here doesn’t have any manual settings. So the flash is just as bright as it wants to be. I controlled the brightness with camera settings (ISO and aperture). Another option is to move the flash further from the subject. You could also slip a second or third piece of paper into the tube.
My first attempt to light something was way off (ISO250, f/5.6):
I wasn’t expecting that much light to come through the paper. So I reduced my aperture to f/13 and the ISO sensitivity to 100 to get the result you see at the top of the page.
The idea is to provide a diffused soft light on a small portion of the room, just lighting the subject as you intend.