I'm broke most of the time but I've always wanted to have some studio strobes so that I can do portrait's easily but the cost is out of reach for me. Fortunately I figured out how to make a clamp that uses hot shoe strobes (the ones you can put on top of your slr) as the strobe and have a modeling light and a clamp to attach an umbrella too! This can be attached to any 1/4" thread tripod or light stand and is very portable.
The cost of this instructable does not include the cost of the flash guns you use or the method you choose to connect them to your camera. if you get some second hand strobes for cheap that allow you to manually adjust the flash power then your good to go.
All of the hardware can be found at lowes or home depot (I went to lowes. They're a bit more organized than home depot) and the total cost of the hardware is around 10 dollars. I originally made this 2 years ago so if any of the details are loose let me know and I will try and clarify things.
Let's get started!!
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Step 1: Parts Needed
The parts you will need to make this instructable are as follows.
2: large 4 hole mending plates.
4: small brass 2 hole mending plates
1: corner mending plate (make sure the holes on it are big enough for 1/4" bolts.
10: 1/4" nuts
6: 1/4" bolts
2: 1/4" wing nuts
1: metal bowl clamp work light.
1: 1/4" coupling nut (more on this in a bit)
The tools you will need to make this are as follows:
2 pairs of pliers (vice grips are preferable but not necessary)
1 flat head screwdriver (optional depending on the bolts you use)
1 philips head screwdriver (optional depending on the bolts you use)
Step 2: Step 1 - Building the Base
Take your 2 large mending plates which from here on I will call "base plates" and lay them down so the holes are facing the same way. Then take 2 of your brass mending plates and lay them across the base plates so the holes line up with the end holes on the base plates.
Now take a bolt and put a nut on the bolt and spin it all the way down to the base of the bolt. This allows the bolt to sit flush against the bottom of the base plates. if you don't want to use a nut for this you can use washers. Take the bolt and stick up from underneath the base plate through the base plate and the brass plate. Put a nut on top and tighten it down. Do this for all 4 intersecting holes of the brass plates.
Step 3: Step 2 - Making the Modeling Light.
Now we will put the base plate aside and focus on the lamp that will be the modeling light.
Take your metal bowl work light and loosen the wing nut that is attaching the lamp assembly to the clamp. Keep this bolt and wing nut as they will be used in a minute. Now unscrew the metal lamp shade from the bulb socket. It unscrews easily and will leave basically a light bulb socket at the end of a power cable. This is the modeling light. It is not dimmable but you could add an inline dimmer switch on it if you wish.
Now You should have 2 pieces of metal that have 2 holes on the bottom flat part and the rounded part that was holding the lamp socket. take the metal clamp assembly from the lamp and move the bolt that came with it down to the bottom hole of the clamp. Now take one side of the clamp assembly and place it along side one of the holes on the corner mending bracket. Push the bolt through the clamp assembly and the metal corner bracket. Put on the other side of the clamp assembly and tighten down the wingnut.
Now this is the one step that I didnt buy a part at the store so i'm not sure what size bolt to use but I found a small bolt in my junk bin that fit in the top hole of the clamp assembly and allowed me to tighten the clamp down onto the lamp socket. I will go to the store when i have some time and post what size bolt it was.
Once you have a bolt in the top hole you can put the light socket back in the clamp and tighten it down. This is now ready to attach to the base plates.
Step 4: Step 4 - Making the Umbrella Clamps.
Before we attach the modeling light we must first make our umbrella clamps. you should have 2 more brass mending plates that we will use to hold down the umbrella but we will need to bend them into a chape that will allow the umbrella to sit underneath them and hold the umbrella down tight.
This is where the 2 pairs of pliers or vice grips are needed. If you have a workbench clamp then your golden just bend the pieces so they look like the shape in the photo below. Once you have the pieces bent just attach them to the base plates with a bolt and the wing nuts. easy breezy. Were almost done so don't give up now!
Step 5: Step 5 - Final Assembly
Now at this point you should have your base plates assembled and secure and your umbrella claps on. Now we will attach the modeling light and discuss where the strobes will go.
Take your modeling light assembly and attach it to the base plates via the coupling nut (or in my case the piece I yanked off an old leather camera case) and make sure it's secure. The coupling nut is where the tripod or light stand will attach to the base plates. Without this you just have a piece of metal that cant attach to anything. Now that you have that attached it's time to talk about how your gonna fire your strobes. The cheap way is to use a pc sync cord. This is a good way to start into off camera flash but pc cords have a tendency to die on you when you need them most.
What i have been experimenting with as of late are the cactus v2 wireless triggers or as theyre called on strobist "ebay triggers". they are around 30+ bucks on ebay and allow you to shoot wirelessly.They are a bit finicky but there's mods out there to make them more reliable.
What I do is use a hot shoe to pc cord adapter to connect to the v2 receiver that I attach on one of the back thread posts of the base plates. This is more stable and reliable. I also have an infared slave eye on the other side of the base plate so that if I need to use 2 flash guns to double my power output I can just attach it to that. no muss no fuss.
Step 6: Step 6 - Go Shoot Something!
Now that it's all assembled attach your flash guns to the hot shoes and go to town. This rig works great for head shots and low key lighting set ups. it's highly portable and can be used on any tripod or light stand that has a 1/4" thread. Enjoy!!