I thought that this was going to be a major limitation — the battery life of the camera — as while connected via USB the camera is constantly “on” and never goes into a sleep mode.
However while I was doing recent testing with the Nikon D40 time lapse I started with a full battery and took schedule shots every 5 seconds for about an hour, and at the end the battery still said 100% full. Both via the camera icon, and via the battery meter in my script.
So obviously some power has been used, but very little apparently. While this is good news it is also a bit puzzling so I’d love to hear your experience with it.
My batteries are not brand new or anything, I’ve taken many thousands of frames with the D40 and swap between two original Nikon EN-EL9 Rechargeable Li-ion Batteries. So far they have given me great service, and they last longer than the D300 batteries even though those are physically larger.
The other day I saw this nice post at diyphotography.net about a simple backdrop stand, and it made me think how I do this with bamboo. Nothing bamboo specific about it I think, and in fact really not much to it at all.
Basically I leverage chairs , specifically any chair with straight legs (so no sofas or lazyboys or office spinners). Why? Because chairs are everywhere, and they tend to stay put — they are easy to weight down with a few books or you can even have someone sit on it. So you it isn’t anything extra, it’s just using what you have.
Three bamboo poles — at least 6 foot long, dirt cheap where I am
Couple of pieces of elastic cord tied in long loops — I carry some of these everywhere
And then the backdrop, I have a few meters of sheet material from a fabric shop which is almost completely white — and once it is blasted with enough light it is white. For colour backdrops I just ad gels (to the flash).
Then I need to find two chairs — dining chairs are great though I also use some rattan arm chairs — then put a bamboo pole upright next to leg of the chair and bind it top and bottom of the chair-leg with bits of velcro. If the chair back has exposed poles you can bind to all the better for stability. That gives me two uprights.
Now I take the third pole, stand on the chair to reach, and bind the horizontal pole to the upright with elastic cord giving me an “H” shape of poles. It takes longer to write it down than to do it and it’s lightweight yet sturdy and all I have to carry about is three poles and the rest goes in my pocket.
I guess this is one up on the “clamp the sheet to a bookcase” in terms of flexibility of where you can put it, but is similarly basic. But then that’s all you need really isn’t it?
Having said all that — I’ve lost interest in the idea of white backgrounds and really want to find more interesting textures out in the real world to be the backgrounds in my portraits. But that’s another story.
If you follow any of the smalllightshooters or “strobism” in general as I do then you’ll have come across the “Justin Clamp” quite a few times in passing. If not, then lets just say it is an ugly beast that provides several useful ways to attach something to something else — typically a hotshoe flash to a pole, shelf, tripod leg or probably someone’s nose if they stay still long enough.
It comes with a cold shoe but it may be a bit tight for the SB-900, but works fine with an SB-800. Now I haven’t got a 900 but presume that like a SB800 it comes with it’s own cold foot or stand – the AS-19 which is a often ignored but very useful piece of kit.
This gives me a simple option to DIY a replacement for a Justin Clamp, for cheap. A Bulldog clip from a stationary store, bolt and a couple of nuts and I have this.
Shown here clamping onto a bookcase with flannel to get a good grip without scratching the wood.
Finally, if you want a real Justin Clamp – which is better but more expensive than a DIY version then you can always buy one from B&H. They are $56.95 but like any Bogen stuff will probably last your whole lifetime!
It does work fine — compare the first two images below — the first with the grid spot on, and the second without and the SB-800 just zoomed to max 105mm. But when folded down it literally fits in my wallet – though in practice I keep it in the little slip case that houses the flash, so whereever I have a flash I have a grid spot as well.
Again, images for us visual folks — and I’ll try to do some writen instructions soon as there is a trick to making that paper matrix easily. Double sided tape!
Why a bamboo light stand? Well if you are a reader of Strobist
then you know that lightstands are very handy — if not read here first. Of course a factory built one is simple and probably the best option
, but it isn’t exactly cheap. Particularly if you want more than one — and you will, you’ll want several. There’s your main light, then fill, then hair and rim lights, and what about some reflectors and… you get the picture. Just try not to over-do the whole speedlight thing, heh?
Now one good solution to keep Strobist from hurting your wallet is the Stick in a Can, click that link and watch the video if that name doesn’t mean anything to you, but good/cheap and DIY as that is it isn’t great for portability. I mean how many cans full of concrete can you carry about – even in the back of your car?
So here is my solution to the problem — which makes sense for me because were I live bamboo is cheap cheap cheap. This light stand uses three 6 foot pieces of bambo, some brass bolts and a piece of string. The bolts and string cost me more than the bamboo.
If you live somewhere where bamboo is an exotic import and costs a fortune, well then this post is of only academic interest. Though flip through the pictures and maybe consider doing the same out of PVC tubing? I understand that’s pretty cheap — using PVC tubing for photo stands is not new of course. But that’s another topic.
As we are visual types I’ll start with a slide show that shows what the stand looks like and how it’s used. And I’ll follow up with some more details in another post.