This is my first instructable and is being written after the fact, so in-progress photos will not be seen. Instead, thrill to the exciting hand-drawn schematics! This instructable will show you how you too can create a quick, effective photography studio backdrop mount for around $10.
Step 1: Justification?
My girlfriend and I have been dabbling in photography for about a year now and were looking to set up a backdrop mount in our house. The requirements for creating this mount were threefold:
1. It must be cheap (the mounts I've seen for sale online were insanely pricy)
2. It must be able to support the kinds of backdrops we had in mind, such as rolls of seamless professional studio backdrop paper
3. It must be unobtrusive, so we can walk through that part of the house without having to smash through paper like a football team at the superbowl.
Step 2: Supplies!
(1) 10' length of 1.25" PVC pipe. $4
(1) 1.25" PVC coupling. $0.50
(2) 1.25" PVC endcaps (optional). $0.67 ea
(4-6) links of smallish chain. I used #12 jackchain which I had lying around so this was free, or you can buy a package of it for around $5
(2) 1/8" S-hooks. $1.99 for a pack of 6
(2) small eyescrews (the eyes of the ones I used are around 0.5"). $0.99 for a box of 6
(2) large eyescrews (the eyes of the ones I used are around 1"). $0.99 for a box of 2
For tools you'll just need a pair of needlenose pliers, a tape measure and a drill with assorted bits.
Step 3: Case the Joint
First and foremost, find an appropriate spot for your backdrop. Against a wall is good, whereas middle of the room (or anywhere there is a draft) is probably not so good.
Once you've found your spot, locate a ceiling beam near one of the outside ends of your area. You can tap a hammer gently on the ceiling, drive a small test-nail, or use an electronic studfinder to locate the nearest ceiling beam.
Measure 6" from the wall and mark the beam with a pencil. From that point, make a second mark 112" over (still 6" from the wall)and test that spot to verify that it will also be driving into a beam (ceiling beams are generally 16" apart...what you want to mark is a beam that is just over 9' away from the other mark, so 7 beams over will be 112").
Step 4: Drill 'em
Time to whip out your trusty drill. Using a bit slightly smaller than the shaft of the LARGE eyescrew, drill a hole into each of the two marks you made in the previous step (assuming you found a couple of suitable beams).
On your PVC pipe, make a mark 4" from each end and drill a hole into each mark, using a bit slightly smaller than the shaft of the SMALL eyescrew. Don't worry about having the holes line up with each other; it doesnt matter at this point.
Hand-tighten the small eyescrews into the two holes in the PVC pipe, and the large eyescrews into the two holes in your ceiling. The needlenose pliers will come in handy here, especially for the ceiling screws.
Step 5: Saw, See?
Using your hacksaw or some similar implement of destruction, saw your PVC pipe in half, so you'll have two identical 5' lengths with eyescrews embedded in one end of each. Then, join the two halves by sticking em into the PVC coupling (the bits that were in the middle should go into the coupling, not the ones with the eyeholes).
The reason for this is so if you are using rolls of seamless photography backdrop paper you will be able to break the shaft in twain easily to change out the rolls.
Step 6: Hang 'em High!
Using your needlenose pliers, pry open your chain and detach (2) 2-link lengths. Hook an s-hook into the small eyehole on each end of the PVC pipe and attach a length of the chain to each one. Hook another s-hook to the other ends of the chain lengths and attach each one to the large eyehooks in the ceiling. Slap some endcaps on the pipe and you're finished! You now have a durable photo studio backdrop mount that's the perfect size for hanging a 9' roll of seamless paper.
- I was worried initially that the small eyehooks in the PVC wouldn't be able to support the weight of a full roll of paper, but it worked out great. If it had been a problem I planned to put a small length of wooden dowel into each end of the PVC to give the eyehooks something to screw into once the thread got past the plastic.
- Smallish plastic-padded clips are perfect for holding the roll of paper up and out of the way when not shooting (see photo). I got two of em for a buck at the dollar store.
- Comments or suggestions are more than welcome!