Making Your Own Photography Equipment

1/4 in by 20 thread bolts are what fits into the bottom of your camera for mounting on a tripod. It also happens to fit many other photography accessories.

1/4 in by 20 thread bolts are what fits into the bottom of your camera for mounting on a tripod. It also happens to fit many other photography accessories.

A DIY Project

Here is a quick and easy photographic DIY project. Pictured above are three bolts which are 1/4in by 20 by 3/8th inch long. These are the size that screw fit into the bottom of your camera, flash units, lights, tripods and so on. This is a standard size. (See: DIY Photography Equipment. I have used these bolts in several DIY photography projects. In this project we are going to drill on hole to create a clamp that will hold a remote flash unit.

Off-camera flash provides a great way to light your projects. It is easy to diffuse the light since the lens is not mounted on the camera. You can use diffusers, reflectors or even bounce flash off the roof or walls. Because the light is not in line with the lens, back reflections are more easily controlled. The highlights do not reflect directly back at the camera. Off-camera flash is fun to use and easy to do. However, you have to find a way to mount it somewhere. This quick clamp idea gives you a flexible and easy method for attaching your flash to all sorts of items. Tables, pipes, chairs, your tripod, all sorts of things can be a mounting. You just clamp it to a firm base and away you go. You can even buy a cheap ball-head mount to go on your clamp so you can set the angle of the flash more accurately.

You will need…
A clamp;
the bolt;
a drill bit (1/4in) of a type suitable for drilling your clamp;
a thin rubber washer;
and an electric drill.

You will also need a cold-shoe mount for your flash. Most off-camera flash units come with their own ‘foot’ or base. Often these have a screw mounting bolt built into the bottom so you can either stand the flash on a table or screw fit it to a tripod or light stand. In our case we are going to use a clamp.

The method is simple. You have to purchase a suitable clamp. Some photographic retailers sell cheap clamps for photographic studios. One of these would be fine. I used a plastic hand squeezed clamp from a DIY store. It cost about £7.00 (about US $15.00) for four clamps.

I took a little time to set the clamp onto a few things so I could work out what is the best place to drill the hole. It is easy to just drill it and find it is at the wrong angle. My tests showed that with my clamp it tends to sit slightly angled down when clamped to a table. So I picked an upper position where the flash would sit upright despite the slight angle.

Next I put the clamp in a vice, you could use other grips. This was just to allow me to drill the hole safely. Then I simply drilled one hole in the clamp handle. Next, the bolt is pushed through the hole. It was a little tight as it was the same diameter as the hole. However I did intend that to enable a grip. Once through I pushed the rubber washer onto the bolt. In my case this was a rubber washer from a tap. You could use a variety of different types of rubber washers. The washer is to take up any slack when the flash foot or cold screw is screwed on. There! Job done.

Here is the completed project with the flash mounted on its own foot base.

Off-camera flash mounted on a clamp.

Off-camera flash mounted on a clamp. Notice the bolt through the handle which screws into the 'foot' plate of the flash. Click to see large.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

2 responses to “Making Your Own Photography Equipment