Monday, 8 July 2013


Today I tried making a DIY softbox. I wanted to make a collapsible one, similar to the Kitebox. I can't find the kites they used in the UK, but I bought some piano wire instead, thinking this would essentially be the same as how the kites were constructed.

I bought / got given for Christmas all the parts I thought I needed and finally decided to try and make the softbox recently. Unfortunately when I had put the piano wire together in the shape of a panel for the softbox, it would not collapse properly (I wanted it to be able to fold in on itself like a collapsible diffuser / reflector panel.

Since the piano wire didn't work, and I can't get those kites, I was a bit stuck. Then on eBay I saw you could buy a collapsible softbox by Opteka for $20 (Plus around $15 S+H to UK). I tried to find reviews of it, but couldn't find any. So I purchased that, and will see what it's like.

Next, I wanted to try out some Field Studio Photography. This is where you take your studio to your subject (typically plants and insects), rather than taking them to your studio. The guide for the equipment needed and technique can be found at Meet Your Neighbours - How To Make Field Studio Photographs.

Although the guide is quite good, I still didn't quite get the idea of the complete setup. It mentions 2 tripods with centre columns that can be moved in any position. One tripod to hold the background, and one to hold a diffusion panel for (front) lighting. But then, what is holding the flashes? Wouldn't you need 4 tripods, 2 more to hold the flashes?

I thought that maybe I could use my tripod (with standard fixed position centre column) to hold the background flash, and then use a plamp on one the legs to hold the background out in front of the flash. But the plamp was not strong enough to hold a large diffusion panel (for use as the background). It could hold a small diffusion panel. But it was difficult to get the tripod to the height where the flash was in the correct position for lighting the background, while keeping the background a distance from the flash.

I looked into boom arms, and someone mentioned using a superclamp with a monopod. I thought this might be worth a try. I tried it out, but it wasn't really practical. There was no easy way to hold the diffusion panel at one end and the flash at the other.

One problem I had when trying to test this was that my monopod seemed to have a 1/4" to 3/8" tripod thread adapter stuck on it. It was like the standard small adapters, but will a metal ring around the base of it, which covered the top of the monopod. After doing some Googling, it seemed like this was an adapter, and not part of the monopod.

I tried various things to unscrew it, including spraying WD-40 down the centre. But there was no way to move it. The outside of the ring is covered in a pattern, presumably to aid grip in unscrewing, but the ring is just too thin to get a good grip on. I even tried grabbing the ring in pliers, but they just slipped on the ring.

After doing some googling on how to remove a stuck adapter, I found this thread: Embarrased - Does anybody have tips for removing 3/8" thread adapters?. In there a couple of people give a tip of wrapping a towel around the adapter, and then using pliers. The towel should make it so you don't damage the adapter threads.

I tried this, and after a couple of tries it worked. However, it seems like it did damage the adapter thread, despite me double double folding the town around it.

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