DO-IT YOURSELF  (DIY)



THE DO-IT- YOURSELF SECTION

This entire section is devoted to you, the DIY guy.  The do-it-yourself guy with the Sears Harley Davidson Tool Credit Card!  A man who would rather be tearing down a wall with a hammer than attending needlepoint classes, and wears his band-aids Sergeant style with pride.   OOOps Craftsman tools have been purchased by Stanley.  Sears is selling off, closing some stores to stay in business. 

All of these simple easy to build products here are as close as your hardware store. We designed and built them all out of necessity, general frugalness on my behalf, nice way of saying being broke, and being a new photographer was the inspiration.  

They usually only require simple tools, an Allen wrench, box wrenches, screwdriver, drill, and a six inch adjustable wrench or sockets,  mostly basic tools found in true warriors toolboxes.  Your friendly hardware store, we prefer ACE HARDWARE because of their quality parts, and LOWES is number two.  Home Depots quality in many of their parts and current findings stinks. 

We found nuts and bolts of dubious quality, nuts off-center, bolts badly finished, bad fits like they ran the screw machines too long and the cutter blades not sharp.  Hopefully they will improve and dump the cheap vendors and China at the same time. Wishful thinking.

PARTS GALORE
AND BINS FULL

The first item you'll need are half inch clamps used for mounting plumbing or conduit (electrical) on ceilings and walls.  That's the key.  See the picture, it is right under the ACE LOGO and may vary slightly in design as you will see in the pics. The  3/4” inch size will do bottom mounts of pipes, poles and monopods nicely.  The 1/2 “ fit the tops.  They are sold in package of ten which is a better buy price wise.

All of the following items were made with 1/4 x 20 chrome socket head screws, stainless, alloy or steel plated.  Top Left in the same picture.   1/4 x 20 is the same as the tripod thread and most camera accessories use. I just bought a box of 100 in different lengths as they get used a lot here.  By using one universal size and thread, my drills and hand drivers all use the same bit. Stainless for outdoor, Less expensive plated indoors. In bulk not that much difference in price

Also few crooks carry Allen wrenches.  Another part you will use are Locking washers which prevent slipping, and “Star washers”.   Also, purchase either Locktite Blue or Clear Fingernail Polish for use on the threads and it will lock them in place. No loose screws, a hairdryer will soften Locktite blue and can release it if needed.   And you can use Shrink tube material to make the Extender and the Flat Mend Plate "Black".  Black nail polish looks good too, don’t bother with magic markers or Sanford markers.  Ask your daughter if you can borrow hers. Don’t ask your son, he might burn your house down playing the stereo at 690 decibels.

Next you'll need to take electrical tape or shrink tubing to wrap the cable clamp to prevent scratches, I used shrink tube 3/4 inch (about) four dollars for a four foot piece, lots of good usages on tools etc. at a good electronics or shop or from Mouser.  One stick 3/4 makes most of these projects. I used the shrink tubing instead of the tape since it’s neater and no goo.  The shrink tape with glue inside used for splicing and no slip makes great handles for tools.

Extenders, also they are called couplers. They come two to a pack for .89 cents and very useful. They are used to connect 1/4 x 20 inch threaded rods for creating long lengths.  These 1/4 x 20 Threaded Rod Extenders are also called a "coupling nut".  They add the space needed at the joints to allow a myriad of possible combinations and various devices to be used.  

Flat / Angle Mend Plates come in all sizes and Straight or angle, lots of options. Flat Plate or long rectangle allows the Pocket Wizard to Swivel or Rotate by offsetting the thumb screws.  The 90 degree angle iron shown allows even more variation on position with many of these projects.  The beauty of this system is like working with Lego's.  Don't like what you made, take it apart and redo it for another project or simply make it better.  There is no waste in anything the Gadgetmeister does. 


DIY PROJECTS

THE BLACK BOX Stand HOLDER  (MOUNT THE BLACK BOX ON A STAND)
It is light weight, simplistically elegant, and familiar on the positive side since it uses my belt clip with a hole drilled plus one of the stand clamps shrink tube and a wing nut.   In addition, it adheres to the politically correct transparency financial encumbrance regulations, not requiring a stimulus package to function and no additional website construction.  

One heavier duty part, from CLIP.com, one 3000lb pop rivet, shrink tubing, one chrome Wing nut, and two backing plates complete the project just as before.  But it is now stronger, better nicer, newer, and almost indestructible.  


THE MONOPOLY
POUNDING SAND
Many wedding shooters being fortunate enough to have a second shooter like to place the light above the groups to eliminate shadows and give a more natural sunlight feel to the photographs.  This solves backlighting problems and light balance.  

In backlit beach shots almost an essential technique for the High - Key look so popular today.  We bought a modest paint pole or extension that had the usual painters screw on threads for a roller.  A couple of quick turns on the grinder removed the threads and I brought it down to the size of the internal fitting on the light stand adapter.  

About 5/8".  Not one to leave things as they are. I reinforced the pole end with a couple pop rivets. (near the 7 Ft number) 

I added a Manfrotto 200 RC series Quick Release (3157)  I had left over from my tripod when I upgraded it with the plate fitted to the Vivitar Metal Foot for a quick setup when needed.  Red locktite made it invulnerable to anything other than Krhyptonite.

I used theseManfrotto Quick Releases which were doing nothing and had been replaced by KIRKS.  All I bought was the light aluminum paint pole.  I can get about 7 feet from the pole I bought, that means with my height I can raise light thirteen feet off the floor. The tilt allows flexibility or side lighting.


THE SAND SPEAR
To use on the beach, I made a variant of the Monopoly using a slightly larger stronger outdoor galvanized conduit three feet long with the bottom end cut like a spear 18” long cut at 25 degrees . The monopole slides into it.  I drilled several holes so it drains quick.  I made four from a twelve foot piece.   Beach weddings...duh.

I use it for beach weddings, backyard parties for kids and adults. Just stab it where you want.  Makes a hell of a walking stick and a great weapon. Just make sure where you stab doesn’t have a buried body or electrical lines. No pics since this might be construed as a Medieval weapon known as the “Spear”.

Bright Beach Scenes, I endorse the use of a twenty-five or thirty foot Plain Jane PC Cord from Zebra Flash to connect the camera to the flash on a stick.  Why? Simple when shooting beach shots or into the sun most cameras will not synch on second curtain or high mode at the speeds necessary for the bright light or back lighting even with Pocket Wizards where some models can’t do high synch.

They will however work with a direct PC connection since the flash is now only a few feet from the subject and the flash is at its brightest.  70-200 lens, tripod or monopod and you got those high end shot outfits like PROFOTO and others ran slick ads and thousands of dollars for.  I call this technique Econo-Slick and it works.


ARCA HANGERS
 A large percentage (98%)  of my tripods, lightstands and monopods are good quality and I believe in taking care of them since being good also means being expensive to replace.  I have in my  product shooting room a nice large closet with wire shelves and since most of my fittings are ARCA SWISS head plates, I made these shaped parts from one inch plastic and beveled the edges with a file. Took all of an hour to fashion a dozen of them. 

They all hang evenly and stress free, no dings dents or scratches.  I beveled the bottom edge with a countersink so the 1/4 x 20 screw would lie flush with the bottom. I used one of the connectors and a 1/4 x20 eye screw and one of the inexpensive carabeiners from Home Depot. They were .50 cents on sale but are now a dollar.    Total cost under $1.50 each and no banged up tripods and stands.

THE EXTENDER
One of my mono lights blocks the receiver.  Simple solution.  The small Gizmo Extension is used on a light stand stand for adding a transmitter or receiver or anything else that doesn’t fit and needs to clear an object possibly that is blocking a signal or it may be used to angle a flash or pocket wizard in another direction.
I use them for video and sound recording. I used a repeater with this one. The simple clamp, eared nut, extension, and simple straight part and go from there.  About two dollars worth of parts. 


THE THIRD FOOT
It simply allows me to add anything with a flash shoe or foot to a light stand, works perfect, lots of flex. I also use it for pocket wizards, small repeat triggers, meters or other trigger devices and sometimes a hair or accent light with and without color gels when an angles or bounce light was needed.  

By using plates of a different length, I could adjust the distance of the article off the center. Hook two plates together in the center for even more flexibility.  “L” shaped angle brackets allow almost anything.   This guy is handier than you might think, use your imagination. Total cost about six to seven dollars and that includes the four dollars for the shoe.

To prove a point, the same clamp, with red shrink tube was used in all the pics.  After a job is done and if there is no need for the setup, just take it apart.  I keep the parts screw bolts, socket heads , lock washers, clamps all in one small sectioned tackle box to make what I need when I need it.

THE BANKER CLAMP
Holds anything from a small sweep for macro work, scripts for a video shoot,  to a recipe for tomorrows dinner. Simple, no frills About two dollars.  Just nuts, lock washers and bolts, a connector, and an allen wrench. I have magnets I can sub for the clamp when needed.  Heavy duty magnets with 1/4 by 20 extensions epoxied on.

Sometimes I leave notes on it near my front door to remind me of something as I’m heading out.  Cost under two dollars to make. I use the Bankers clips and have a few with HD killer magnets on them for various positioning “holds”on my milling machine.

Just use your imagination… thats what Do-It-Yourself is all about.


FLASH CARD
The super simple flash card is nothing more than 4 to 5 inches of white vertical blind material with one 1 1/2” strip of velcro holding the piece in place.  Home Depot has lots of these cutoffs that they throw out when verticle blinds get shortened, even in nice shades of beige and yellow to use in warming or cooling a scene. 

Total cost 30 cents for the velcro. The cutoffs were FREE Also if you go into the paint department, you will find hundreds of color chips you can affix as bounce color cards for subtle tones for FREE.

Tell the little woman you were thinking of doing some painting around the house.   A simple easy bounce solution and a lot cheaper than all the overpriced stuff on all of four pages in the B&H catalog that does the same thing.  I don’t believe people pay those prices for that imported dubious quality, slick promises, and in most cases useless junk.  


TABLETOP - TETHER
FORENSIC WORK

I do a lot of small soldering of crucial parts and assemblies for myself and outside vendors with specialized jigs on my Panavise bases and I have had to make appliances for multiple projects.  This is just one of my benches I shorten Nikon and other cables on using bases which accept a 5/8 studs  for Shortening SB-17,28,29, Vello and Canon cables for off flash photography.  

Since we are a SONY dealer, I use SONY’s, and the A6000 series does a great job in this realm, as it is small and has full manual control with wi-fi.  I also have Macro units for my A77,s  for my SONY Alpha G and Carl Zeiss lenses.   

The A6000 will have a direct connect and the A77’s have Locking PC direct to the Yong-Nuo 460’s and 560III’s that I adapted and also have a brace of Metz flashes.  

My other SONY’s have hot shoe adapters and need no variation in triggering as I also made direct connector for those units.  

Lots and lots of possibilities are available.  By the use of different diffusion grids in the flash head I have complete control of the lighting for a forensic project I’m working on.

Bullet hole entries, blood smears and other forensic work, where a straight flash is way too domineering and that’s what photography is all about. There are newer chemicals than Luminol and a special flash is what I am working on.  Problem solving.


HE’S TALL, SHE’S SHORT
THE RUBBERMAID TOOL

See if you really have a problem, the couple knows who and what they are and they love each other enough to get married, I guess there is no problem so don’t create one.  

If they have concerns at least for the formals if you are doing them, then discuss it and seek suitable locations for height enhancement such as sitting shots, carry over the threshold shots and stair cases. Also a knoll or bump in the grass can help.  Here is a simple solution.

Use a Rubbermaid step stool from Target, Home Depot and others to elevate either the bride or groom,  if doing 3/4 or 1/2 body shots. And here are the reasons I use the step stool.  

  • I tried boxes. In Video they are called Apple Boxes and composed of parts and sections. I carry enough parts with me.  
  • I like simple and cheap. I want everything I own to do multi-tasking and the stools with Internal storage get used all the time around my world and my kitchen.
  • One step stool is enough for the Bride, no parts , no assembly , no thinking, if there is less than 8 inches difference she can wear heels. 
  • And sometimes I stand on the step stool to get extra height for some shots such as oblique angles of the groomsmen and ushers etc since they may be tall and I want the camera on top of the tallest.
  • Great little stool to place “ raped” material over in layouts for product shots.
  • And for short kids to reach the posing table.
  • It is very safe for shooting over top of crowd when a small ladder is out of question and it’s also essential for making speeches since everybody knows you need to stand on some kind of box to get attention while making a speech. 
  • For checking and fueling any airplane with a high wing.  It comes in white and beige, so it goes with most wedding dresses and the train in front hides it nicely if you have a real short Bride.    $9.99 to $12.95 at Target and other stores. 


THE ELUSIVE BLACK TUXEDO
Photographer,  customer and friend Sam Stern is a traditionalist and Using the Dual KRYLON or KRLON Paint for Plastics he painted his Tuxedos Black.   Beautiful job and really made it simple for you to do with  simple trick. 

The Trick - Use electricians tape.  Simply cover the port and the switch with black good quality electricians tape not the blue stuff.  We chose electricians tape since it makes a sharp edge and bends corners nicely.  


THE PERFECTION BRACKET

The  part is available in its native state which is heat galvanized.  A fairly bright 3600K Galvanized Silver Color as the raw photo shows.  It is found at Home Depot in the lumber section.

Product Manufacturer Simpson Strong-Tie 8-1/4 in. Stair Tread Angle Model # TA9Z Available at HOME DEPOT  $4.76 (Approx.)

You can use it in its present state of galvanized silver color, or if you are a purist and need your gear in black like the excellent job Sam did in the photo above, you have several options.

👍🏼   You can cover it with wide black duck tape made by Gorilla using an X-acto knife to cut out the holes and indents.  Fast and simple and the Gorilla tape will be there long after you will.   It is not the cheap duct (not duck) tape which leaves residue and was made for patching air ducts when the silver stuff can split, and fast crappy repair jobs.

👍🏼   How good is Gorilla tape?  We flew in my plane to Lakeland Florida to attend the fabulous Sun and Fun Airshow.   Naturally with hundreds of planes  attending, the local scouts and JR ROTC were assisting basically pushing on the leading edges of the wings back into parking slots.  One young fellow instead of the wing  forward edge grabbed the super thin wingtip.  “Houston”,  we had a split, and cracked edge of the plastic wingtip of my Piper 160.

👍🏼   Anyone with a Piper knows how expensive those parts are.  They broke it, I unscrewed the pieces and put it back together with Gorilla tape and a small wallpaper roller I just happened to have in the cargo compartment from taping the outlines of the stripes on the plane, to smooth it and flew the hundred miles back home with no problems till we could get the new part.  ($350.00)


PAINT FOR PURISTS
👍🏼   The nicest alternative is from KRYLON. They have a new primer and color plastic paint that will do a decent job and it is readily available at Home Depot and they also make KRLON Paint for Plastics which is great.

👍🏼   You carefully sand and de-burr, sometimes called breaking the edges with a round file, these are stampings and have sharp edges, sand the face of the metal lightly using a wood block and use paint thinner to clean the surface of oil and you are ready for paint. Remember to rough it up. All may be found at the Home Depot or Lowes. 

👍🏼   Doing -it- yourself is an idea from me to you on how to be in the double bracket business for next to nothing, Basically under thirteen dollars, for the part, paint, and sandpaper.  Additional paints may be found at the Depot or Lowes from Rust-Oleum and one convert to DIY suggested and used paint found at Harbor Freight used on pickup truck bodies which did a great job.  And no one says it has to be black use your imagination….  

👍🏼   Another customer uses these brackets on motion sensor game (deer - hog - cameras) mounted to trees prior to the season… his are done in camo colors.  I built him some extended battery packs that mount to the bracket along with the camera.


DUAL or FOUR-PLEX BRACKETS

I like the concept of twin lights on one stand.  You have the option and four can be better, convenience, consistency and reliability thats portable!  The strobes...I wanted simple, intelligent, and break proof bracket rather than many out there that were really cheap crap, most were plastic and twisted aluminum.  I was on a quest. 

I stumbled onto the bracket from Home Depot, I was reaching for something else, disturbed something and it fell off the shelf…missing my head, right into my hand and once again not claiming any kind of religious beliefs but,  It did change my thinking somewhat about  “divine guidance”.  Too many things have put me in the right place at the right time.   The simplicity of this build amazed me and my science side tells me when one is looking one will find, it’s called luck.

The front holes are for the transmitters like the R616, Pocket Wizards, Radio Poppers, and Micro Sync's  Etc or they may be up-fitted with SPAS (Read on)  and made into four light units. Made from STEEL, it will last a life time.

Just add your flash or LED components in any combination. I have screws and bolts, rubber anti-twists, and a stanchion that came with my basic kit is still available from me and inexpensive till I run out.  The screws are chrome or stainless with knurled plastic ends.  See the photo, those red round caps are gone  but we have a good amount of black left.   


KNURLED SCREWS, RUBBER ANTI-SLIP
BOLTS and LOCKNUTS

SPAS - The cold shoes, like Stroboframe in the picture are readily available and cheap parts  # SPA either at B&H or Amazon had huge assortment.  From 2.50 to 8.75 in cost per.  Also most Nikon, Canon and other popular brands come with 1/4 x20 screw foot stand so you might not need the SPAS. See just below.

If we double the light, with two flashes on a Perfection bracket. This can have it's advantages. We can maintain the power and double the width for those large Wedding groups or increase the light output or a full stop. True F/11 From those Vivitars. 

We  may use one vertical and one horizontal to cover almost every conceivable vertical or staircase and since most peoples heads are about a foot wide and a foot high so why drag a ton of gear to shoot a simple portrait.  Use one flash forward and the second bounced for the back fill.

EDITOR CAUTION ON EBAY:   We saw some of these on eBay with the usual tricks, selling them for three dollars but shipping and handling were five times what one ounce costs.  That made them the same price as B&H Vello or AMAZON if you have Prime with free shipping. Order four, you will see why.


NIKON, CANON,
YONG-NUO et al 

The stand shown on the left works with the bracket and is usually supplied with the NIKON SB, Canon, YONG-NUO  and most others.  And some strobes with the added benefit of their internal transceivers means you need nothing other than the Perfection Bracket.  

So the cost of a Nikon or Canon is not that much as you eliminate the transceivers and most of their flashes come with those "feet" to use on table tops.  It's slick, affordable and totally professional looking. You save on hot shoes and transceivers.   Now you can tag team two SB-600’s or SB-700s shown  and use the SB-800 for the trigger and mains. 

The Nikon Foot / Shoe came with your strobe , B&H has replacements from $8.00 from Vello and Nikon. This make a powerful wedding package. One stand two flashes, one black box on the stand powering two smaller flashes increasing their power or spread.

Combined with the Nikons built in transceivers on the 600-800 series you have an easy job.  CANON owners can do the same with the newer models or use transceivers.  The Black Box with dual DIN ports powers the little units beautifully.  On the downside, if distance like 100 feet is a concern, nothing beats a set of the Wizards for distance and in high RF conditions. .... I use and like the Plus Two’s.


EDITOR EXPERIENCE
TRUE STORY - MY EYES

Years ago, one really big name hired by Canon to do a demo at the PMA show in Vegas. They were breaking out their new high end super wireless strobes and they became brainless and they got nothing to work right.  After ten minutes of menu changes on the cameras and flashes, nothing, nada, and zilch, they were about to give up.  

I believe the convention center hall had a gazillion wi-fi’s, transmitters and cellphones making enough RF to drop satellites from space.   Many,  F-Bombs, one with open mike, followed.  Finally after they had moved  off the main stage, the Canon rep responsible for bringing the strobes told them to pull out the Pocket Wizards from the two level case the flashes came in to continue the show.  Very embarrassing.  Six months later the EXII was born and that was superseded by the 600RT with a better setup. Honest to God truth.


$12.00 UPGRADE TO
A FOUR-SCORE LIGHT

The front multipurpose holes may be used / or not used / or are for the TRANSMITTERS like the R616, 604, Pocket Wizards, Radio Poppers, Cactus, Cowboys and Micro Sync’s and Ghetto Blasters.

If your flashes have internal receivers you are going to love this.  All you need are two more of the STAS (see below) connected to the optional ports or any device with a 1/4x20 hotshoe.  Cost range from 2.50 from HDE on Amazon to 8.75 from B&H per shoe.  Either system works well with the Black Boxes to provide power consistently for four strobes. 

And for those destined to see how many small strobes you can use at one time and really go nuts with four, thats sixteen AA cells to fart with, I have a better idea.  Just add the two extra SPAS shoes or Vello clones from B&H and you have a FOUR-SCORE that can be powerful and fast with just two BLACK BOXES.

With Dual Black Boxes, eliminating all the AA cells and a bunch of Yong-NUO 460 ii or  560 II or III cheapie’s, you got punch.   The best part other than the fact the Perfection is inexpensive, is the reality it is overbuilt.  This in effect can further advance the usage of the Perfection Bracket when you need a scene that would be best served by something like a bare bulb or a Flash-bang.  One billion combinations are possible. Try that with some of the plastic junk out there, if you trust them…