Monday, October 4, 2010

Setting up flashes on uneven ground

Often times, I find myself off deep in the woods, needing to mount a flash from a high angle, or on rough uneven ground.  This is where traditional flash-stands fail.  Unless you have perfectly even ground they tip over.  All three legs are always the same length, and they are clearly designed for in-studio work, or on perfectly level pavement.  What's with that?  I get the idea that they are quicker to setup, but there are better ways.

When I'm shooting biking or skiing I know the ground will be uneven.  Here are the two solutions I've come up with to help in almost any situation:

Solution 1: Bungie-Ball Cords.  At least that's what I would call them.  (See picture below)  Also known as "Canopy Tarp Ties".  Picked these up at Home Depot, conveniently located next to Wal-Mart (See Solution 2).

These cords will stretch around small to medium diameter trees and branches, wrap around the flash, and hold it in place.  You can even wrap it around your pocketwizard with the flash.  This allows me to set them up on high tree branches for overhead lighting, or low to the ground, and only takes a few seconds.

They literally weigh NOTHING, so putting a few in your pack makes no difference.  They will also work if your shooting indoors and have a railing or something similar to attach the flash too.  

The much cheaper alternative to Justin Clamps at only $2-3 for 8 of them!  

Solution 2:  Standard cheap wal-mart tripod.  Yes I said it, WAL-MART!  This tripod may only cost $15-20 but its legs are adjustable.  The other great aspect?  It is very light-weight.

Make sure you purchase an aluminum tripod.  I mount the plate directly onto my hot shoe stand that came with my flash.  Then I simply take the flash out of my bag, setup the tripod, and snap the hot shoe in.  Simple and effective!  The legs are fully adjustable allowing for me to place the flash on the steep slopes beside the trail.  Also, if I decide I need to use a tripod for a shot, I have this with me and can mount up my camera as well!  Works so good I might buy another (which I can do without breaking the bank, pretty cool Eh?)

Oh, and theres yet another advantage.  It has a tilting head!  You won't need to tilt the flash head or be limited by angles anymore, just tilt the tripod head up and down.

That's the BUZZ for Today!  Please check back soon for more.


Post a Comment