Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What Would MacGyver Do?

At Photocamp Utah, I presented several do-it-yourself projects. This posting contains the details of those projects. Details can be seen in the pictures in the power point notes (pptx).

Clamps

The first project were clamps that can have flashes or cameras or any other device that is designed to be mounted on a tripod. All the materials come from a home improvement store.
  • Spring clamp. Some brands come with holes pre-drilled in them. Look for them since it's easier to construct without having to drill a hole. If the clamps used don't have holes, drill a hole in the side by the hinge large enough for the 1/4" bolt.
  • 1/4-20 bolt. Make sure the bolt does not have a shoulder on it. Typically 1" long bolts work well.
  • 1/4-20 Jam nut.
  • Locktite or lock washer for 1/4" bolt.
  • 1/4-20 Flange nut.
  • Fender washer. Make sure the hole in the washer is large enough for the nut part of the flange nut but not for the flange to go through.
  • Two-part epoxy.
Put the bolt through the clamp from the inside, place the lock washer on the bolt and then tighten the jam nut on the bolt. Use the epoxy to glue the fender washer to the flange nut. When set, screw the nut onto the bolt, flange side up. Any accessory with a standard tripod mount can be attached to the clamp. Use the flange bolt to lock the accessory in place.

Light tent

The second project was a light tent. These provide a very even light for small objects. They're frequently used for product shots.

From home improvement store:
  • 18 ft of 1/2" PVC pipe. Length needed is dependent on the size of the box desired. For the demonstration, I had 8 lengths 24 inches long and 4 lengths 30 inches long.
  • 8 tees
  • 8 elbows
  • Or 8 corner connectors (if they have them)
  • 8 thread x slip adapters
  • Clips. Clips can be made either from the same sized pipe if using thin walled pipe or the next size up if using thick walled pipe. Cut in short pieces several inches long and then slice out about a third length-wise.
From party supply store:
  • White, disposable table cloth
  • Large sheets of paper to use as a backdrop.
Cut the pipe to the desired lengths. Eight equal lengths are needed for two sides and four equal lengths are needed to connect them together. All twelve can be the same length if you want a cube. Slide the pipes into the corner pieces to make a frame. Drape the table cloth over the frame and use the clips to hold the backdrop and table cloth in place.

An alternate design using just a cardboard box and tissue paper can be found in this Strobist article. Thanks Elizabeth for the reminder!

Speedlight modifiers

Finally, I talked a bit about light modifiers for flashes. Velcro can be wrapped around the flash head to use as a mounting point for various light-weight gobos, snoots, grids, small light boxes and gel holders. Thin craft foam available at craft stores can be purchased in sheets and cut with scissors to any desired size and shape. Ready made accessories can be purchased at Honl Photo or the pictures used as inspiration for your own designs.

References

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