10 Things I wish I bought sooner.

August 30, 2019  •  7 Comments

10 things I wish I bought sooner.

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  1. Super Clamps
  2. Super Visor Clamps
  3. Baby Pins
  4. Gimbal Head
  5. Grip Heads
  6. C-Stands
  7. 3/8-16 to baby pin adapter
  8. Friction Arm
  9. Sand Bags
  10. Gaffer Tape

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Super Clamps

These little clamps can pack a heavy load. I trust them to hold up all kinds of things, but 99% of the time, they hold up my strobes. These allow me to mount my strobes to any flat, curved, or angled surface that fits in its jaws. I find that anything about 2” or less will work. I’m often clamping to the flat iron that makes the structure of a steel building, or to the top of a 2” panel, or a square tubing handrail. These clamps come with various handles to tighten them down, but my favorite is the adjustable lever. It allows you to reposition itself to get the maximum force. The super clamps don’t do anything without a baby pin, though. There are a wide variety of baby pin shapes and sizes. I keep a range on hand for many uses.

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Super Visor Clamps

There are several sizes for supervisor clamps. I prefer the larger 9” ones, but I have a smaller one that I got first and soon realized it wasn’t long enough. These have a fixed jaw that receives a baby pin, and the other end is a male baby pin with course threads between them. The other jaw slides freely backed by a handle that you spin down the thread to tighten it. According to Kupo, they don’t recommend using them on anything 2” or bigger. However, it has been my experience that even though they aren’t great for any round object that is 2” or larger, they are great at flat or angled corners. I’ve often clamped to a large flat iron, and it was very secure. I typically mount my strobes to the male baby pin end, but sometimes I need a different style of a baby pin to get my strobe in the right position.

 

Baby Pins

I’m always on the lookout for different baby pins. Several companies make them in different shapes and sizes. I have the standard ones that usually come with the super clamps. These are short and typically have a 1/4-20 on one end and  3/8-16 on the other. If I need something a little taller, I’ll use the 6” long baby pins. They are a straight pin that is three times longer than the standard pin. Often though, I find myself using the right angle baby pin. They are just like they sound like a baby pin in the shape of a capital “L.” When I mount strobes to the vertical pillars on steel buildings, I’ll use the right angle baby pins to keep my lights in an upright position. It feels more secure to me that way.

 

Gimbal Head

If you’ve followed what I do for very long, you know I love my gimbal head. The gimbal head is what holds my camera for me. It attaches to a tripod or anything that has a 3/8-16 thread. A gimbal head will allow my camera to balance in place, so there is no restriction when I’m shooting. It is free-floating until I grab hold of it and shoot. Then when I let go, it just hangs out until I’m ready again. Using the gimbal head beats the old way of doing things with a monopod or, worse, freehand. With a gimbal locked onto a tripod or something else, it is 100% secure. With a monopod or handheld, the camera is loose and could fall easily. The gimbal allows 360 degrees spinning of the camera and a great deal of vertical movement—virtually unlimited options for shooting direction and angle. Bird photographers love this; that’s where I got the idea.

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Grip Heads

It took me a long time to figure out why I needed grip heads in my life. Now, how could I live without them? These are great for so many uses. These have a big knob that you turn by hand that squeezes two discs together. These disks have holes in them that allow rods to pass through but the grip head grips tight. I’m currently using these for all kinds of projects, but my favorite is for team roping. I’m usually set up outside the area with plenty of room around me. So, I’ve rigged up a C-Stand (we will get to those soon) and used a super clamp with a right angle baby pin. I have one grip head that slips over the baby pin to make a hinge. Then I run a rod from that grip head to another grip head. In the second grip head, I mount a baby pin to a 3/8-16 adapter. With this adapter, I attach the gimbal head to this rig. After some trial and error in leveling it each time I set it up, it is the best thing so far. When I shoot on a tripod, I can’t get the tripod close enough to me when I’m sitting. So, I spend all day hunched over. That kills my back. However, this rig lets the camera swing over my lap, so I don’t have to hunch over. Plus, it is easy to escape because I can turn it away too. Check out this picture so you get a better understanding of this setup.

 

C-Stands

C-Stand is short for Century Stand. Why did I wait so long to have these in my kit??? Well, they are not cheap, that’s why. I had to make do with what I could when I started, and I didn’t value light stands as I do now. C-Stands are an excellent way to keep your lights safe and secure. They have legs that come out at 90-degree angles then aim down to the ground. I love the turtle base from Kupo Grip. They are so crazy fast to set up and take down. All I have to do is hold the C-Stand horizontal and with the legs up vertical. Then, I slide the collar back to release the legs. Then I let go of the collar as the legs swing down and into place. It just took you 10x longer to read this sentence than it does for the action to take place. These are easily the best way to mount all kinds of things. They telescope up like other light stands too. The ones I use are 10’ tall.

 

3/8-16 to Baby Pin Adapter

I’ve discussed this a little bit already. The adapter is the top of a tripod, but there is a baby pin instead of tripod legs. It is small and straightforward, but it is conducive to making this whole thing work. This allows me to use anything that accepts a baby pin to mount my camera. Most ball heads, gimbal heads, video heads, etc. are attached to a 3/8-16 thread. This is great because I can attach the baby pin in a grip head and put a camera anywhere. Maybe I want an overhead shot, or I could reach out over an object (like my lap above).

 

Friction Arm

You can think of these a lot like an arm but with a wrist and hand at each end. There is a knob or lever at the elbow that locks it all in place. Instead of hands, though, there are baby pins. These usually have a female 1/4-20 on one end and a female 3/8-16 on the other, but many companies make them in several configurations. These are a great way to mount something in a weird place and lock it off. I have little ones that I use to mount a monitor or small LED light. I have big ones that would hold a camera, strobe, or a laptop tray. I’ll typically put a super clamp or supervisor clamp on one end and then a mount for whatever I’m mounting on the other end. Once the clamp is tight on then, hold the tool in position and tighten the knob. It is so easy.

 

Sand Bags

I fill mine with dry beans because sand always leaks out and makes a mess. But the beans will mold if they get wet. I’ve tried steel shot, but they were way too heavy. LOL, I use these for lots of things, but I use a bunch to counterweight the C-Stand rig I described earlier to hold my camera during team ropings. I use them to prop doors open or to rest my strobe heads on in the bed of my truck during outdoor photoshoots when we are driving to a new location.

 

Gaffer Tape

I saved the best for last. Gaffer tape would be like if duct tape and medical tape had a baby. It feels almost like cloth on the top, but the bottom is sticky like duct tape, and it tears easily. I keep a couple of rolls on hand at all times. I hang up signs with it, hold clothes together to fit models better, repair things, etc. etc. The best part is that it is safe to use, It doesn’t leave a sticky residue, and it comes in various colors.

 

Thanks for reading my blog! If you have any questions, comment below.

 


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