Tag Archives: Grip equipment

Small flash in a softbox (made easier?)

I’ve been a fan of using small flash on location for roughly two years. It’s a great way to bring far more professional results to location photographs without having to haul along a truck-load of gear. Great sites such as Joe McNally (http://www.joemcnally.com/blog/) and The Strobist (http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/) have made location lighting that much easier for all of us.

So what can little ‘ol me add to this? Sarah mentioned seeing a pole mounted lighting kit at a wedding while we were chatting yesterday at the studio. Got me to thinking about how this could be done (already mentioned on The Strobist and linked to http://www.kaceyenterprises.com/?page_id=447), however I would rather use my existing softboxes. This gives me a choice of small and medium Chimera boxes.

I’ve referenced a number of Manfrotto bits and pieces below. Your local photo dealer or online retailer should have them in stock as they’re not unusual parts (I had them lying around the studio). My needs are to have the ability to adjust the angle plus rotation of the box and be able to withstand a good gust of wind. After trying a few different configurations, I came up with the following:

flash on bracket

I’ve left the softbox off so you can see the arrangement. Using the SB-800’s included “base”, I was able to screw it into a Manfrotto #196 camera base that comes with their articulated arm. I think you can also purchase the base on its own under code #143. The #196 articulated arm is a real handy piece of gear to have onhand when you need to hold a card or gobo.

That same #196 base also has two holes that accept 5/8″ studs. Rather than purchasing two of these brass studs (#013), you could also likely use a couple of short pieces of 1/2″ copper pipe. The stud pointing down goes to the D200 Avenger clamp and the stud pointing up goes into the #014-14 adapter that can be screwed to the softbox ring.

At this point, the whole rig can be attached to a 5/8″ stud on a light stand or C stand. If you want to use the paint pole as your stand, then the “Metalhead” is going to be your friend. See the link above to Kacey Enterprises. You’re likely smarter than I am and can somehow attach this rig to a pole without the Metalhead, however I haven’t come up with a solid way of doing this. Yet.

I should note that the flash can be slid in and out of the opening in the ring. This is handy because the flaps on the back of the softbox sometimes block the small circular sensor on the side of the SB-800. Using a SU-800 to trigger the SB-800 is really handy since you can change flash mode and settings from the camera. If the distance gets too great or the triggering unreliable, I’ll switch to Pocket Wizards, however being a bit of a techie means I usually reach for the SU-800 first.

Here’s a shot showing all the pieces that were assembled into the rig. Up until now, I’ve been using a C Stand arm and Justin (#175) clamps. It’s all been good, but the arm is heavy and I couldn’t rotate the softbox. Tilting it involves swinging the arm which means one more thing for the client or art director to run into on set.