I often joke with my students about shopping the “photography aisle” at my local home improvement stores. It’s a great way to try out ideas for lighting modifiers, and other kit without breaking the bank. Well, I found a great deal today, and with a little ingenuity and a couple drill bits, came up with a solution to a problem that’s been bugging me the past week or so.
I have a commercial shoot coming up that involves some fairly large items – wider than my standard 9′ seamless paper or vinyl backgrounds. The client wants high-key imagery, and I have the perfect 15′ wide silk that I can use as a background. The problem was how to support it. My background support system accommodates the standard 9′ widths, no problem. But I needed wider.
I was perusing the plumbing aisle at Home Depot today, thinking I might be able to used a couple PVC pipes slipped one inside the other (telescoping-style), but when I tried that, I found they were too flexible, and sagged considerably in the middle. Not to be deterred, I continued browsing with an open mind and just happened upon these babies – the 1-3/8″ x 72″ Marshalltown PB72 Anodized Pushbutton handle sections.
Cool! Six-foot lengths, galvanized, plenty rigid enough for my purposes. And at under $20 a piece, just what the doctor ordered! Bought three of them, just in case. The question then became how to mount them on my background poles.
I have some old Norman light stands that I often use as background support stands. Norman poles terminate in a pin at the business end: approximately 3/8″ diameter by about one inch long. I didn’t want to drill my new telescoping poles (actually, didn’t really have the right bits for that anyway), but I did have some heavy 1.5″ PVC lying around the garage. I cut two 18″ lengths of PVC, into which the ends of my new telescoping poles will slip quite nicely, and drilled the PVC to accommodate the Norman pins on the light stands:
Et voila! I now have an 18-foot wide background support stand! And, if I needed wider, I could simply pick up additional lengths of the poles at my home improvement store. And since it’s not manufactured by a “photography equipment manufacturer” it was probably less than half the cost of “real” photography gear.
DIY doesn’t always result in professional quality gear, but in this case, I’m perfectly happy with the result.
So, what’s your favorite photography find at a non-camera store? Sound off in the comments!
Thanks for dropping by!