Making of hmurimi studio.

I went though my hard-drive looking for some documentation I had done while creating my studio lighting after receiving a number of email inquiries on my DIY studio (Lighting mostly). The lights are made from PVC pipes,straw-boards,tracing paper, high wattage energy savers and other locally available materials. Make no mistake, just because some of the equipment I use is Jua kali (Home made/DIY) it by no way mean that the product is mediocre. I`ve seen crap photos taken with cutting edge equips.

Going Jua kali was not a matter of preference, but my only option due to financial factors. I have always harboured passion for photography and started learning photography with my P&S camera ( Metering, White balance etc) but after acquiring a DSLR lighting was a necessity I couldn’t do without.

To set up this studio, meant I had to buy tools like hammers,saws,pliers,brushes pliers etc ( A good thing, just in case photography/design doesn’t work I could always turn into carpentry or plumbing ) I also had to do a crash course ( googling) on light and electricity (You just don’t mess with electricity willy nilly unless of cause you are on a death wish).

Before I embark on any project that is out of my profession, I alway carry out intensive research, every profession goes by some basic principles (layman approach to some professions like electrical installation could kill ya).

It doesn’t take architectural classes to build a structure this simple Ingenuity,logic,adherence to some basic rules and passion should suffice. I started off with measurements, symmetry is not only a requirement in aesthetics but is also essential in stability of the structure.

DIY studio light

Cutting and folding

 Jua kali light

After applying the adhesive, to ensure good bonding a hammer comes in handy. I used CONTA a brand commonly use for binding leather. I had to take milk on occasion when I felt “high” as I was doing this inside the studio as opposed to outdoors as It should. Chokoras (street children) don’t just sniff the glue the heck of it, the thing can fly you higher than a kyte f*** redbull this thing can give you more that just wings.

DYI studio lighting
For the front cover I used tracing paper for the diffuser and Straw-boards for the frame

DYI Placing the diffusser
The diffuser fits perfectly as I expected

attaching to the Light to a stand

Now this is the part that gave me a hard time trying to figure out how to go about it. It is where innovation had to be called upon. I couldn’t get something that would fit so I took the gadget (forgot its name ) inset and lit a small fire(not in the studio of course I have not decided to soot my ceiling yet) and heated the plastic until it became malleable and molded it to the shape I wanted and nailed it on.

complete light on a stand

A after a couple of hours working on the other finner details ( like lining the inside with aluminum foil, fitting the bulbs etc) the job was done, the following day I made another light faster as I had the experience from making the previous one.

DIY adjustable studio lights on stand

I took care of the aesthetic end of things and my lights were good to go, notice how adjustable the light is (adjustable height,the head can be tilted up, down and sideway etc).The lights outputs 424 w of Florescent that is roughly 31,800 lumens (at 75 lumens per watt) each, which is bright enough considering fluorescents produce up to 100 lumens per watt compared to incandescents (Bulbs commonly used in houses that emits a yellowish light )which outputs an paltry 15 lumens per watt. Had I chosen incandescent bulbs I would be dealing with about 2,120w per lamp enough to turn my studio into an oven or a Kiln for that matter. Later on I built three more lights ( I love florescent, no fire hazard. Who would want to hire a fire truck to be on stand by each time he has a photo shoot, I can`t Image telling my model to duck into a fridge once in awhile during the shoot to cool off or in the worse case scenario shooting in asbestos clothing!)

DIY hot light

In spite of my bashing of Incandescent lamps I made one which I use as Kicker or hair light and on occasion background light. I made it using a sufuria bought from a scrap dealer at 40 Kshs and painted it black on the outside, fitted aluminum foil in the inside and mounted it on a broken camera stand (Which I had to modify extensively). I normally add modifies like color filters,snoots etc for various effects (on the picture above I have a Snoot on). It also come in handy if am shooting bikini or nude on a chilly day, it works on goose bumps like charm.

Diy photography Fill cards

Latter on I felt the need for subtractive and additive fill so I made this book ends from cheap cartons

Home made backgrounds

I took me a while to find the right materials for the backdrops but I finally did get some and figured storage that would make them accessible without much hustle, currently I have four different color which roll up for storage but I usually get more color option by lighting them with different color filters ( ie Yellow filter makes a white backdrop yellowish).

Jua Kali studio Seat
I sketched this chair and took the draft to a professional Jua Kali who executed it perfectly

convertible studio seat

The chair can be converted into different sizes and the cushions are interchangeable ( I designed it like that because I didn’t want it to take lots of space. I only extend it when am doing a shoot that require a seat with more length, otherwise I normally detach it to the size of a normal seat. ( It is the seat that my guests normally uses )

hmurimi reception

The seat at my reception is also Jua Kali I came across these seats that had no back or legs at place we call orotha (scrap dealers) and paid 50 Kshs for each I made a bench and attached the seats (you can hardly tell the the seat is assembled.) I also designed the reception and took my sketch to a welder who made the Iron structure. I later mounted plywood with a pop gun and did the painting and design! (where did I find time do all these things you might ask, there was a time when we had acute power rationing In Kenya so we used to have power like three days a week that gave me lots of free time ).

hmurimi work station

This is where I do my Post Production and Design. Call me old skool but I still love CRT over LCD the depths of colors (32 bit) Multisync Capabilities( clear display even at VGA) among many other things can`t be traded with trends and or “coolness”. The Picture frames on the wall are actually made from cartons but who can tell? long live Jua Kali.
What`s with the notice board ? well, I get orders scribbled on pieces of paper so a just pin them and start processing them one at a time. I also pin contact information and personal reminders etc. The other workstation you see with the yellowish desk is my B workspace (Networked), the PC on that workspace is where I have installed MS Office,Corel draw, Download managers,antivirus,IE 6 and other wacky programs I wouldn’t like installed on my A workspace

Liked my work? ..well why not share :) click the links below to share this on your preferred social media. adiós.. mi Amingo.


11 thoughts on “Making of hmurimi studio.

  1. Blinky

    The application of “using locally available material” just made my day. Simplicity at its best. They say nothing is new under the sun and uv got everything on point


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