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How To Build A DIY Door Top Flash Holder

June 26th, 2013

FlashHolderAll of you that have been to a Scott Hargis workshops, read Scott’s book, Lighting Interiors, or watched his video series will understand the motivation for sitting a small flash on the top of a door. Scott’s lighting setup for small bedrooms/rooms involves a speedlight  sitting on the top of the door.

PFRE reader Mark Cornwell recently pointed out that you have to be very careful not to knock the flash off the door, particularly if you are triggering it with a Pocket Wizard that wants to flop around and pull the flash off the door.

Here is Mark’s solution for building a Door Top Flash holder that takes care of the problem:

I get an awful lot of corrugated plastic sheets – the same kind that estate agents make their signs out of. Mine come in A4 from my print supplier, and I am loathe to throw them away. I figured they had to have a good use. Whether you call them Coroplast or whatever the things I mean are fairly commonly available.

In Scott Hargis’ videos he balances a flash on top of a door. I use Pocket Wizards which means that whole balancing thing is very awkward and when I tried I found it only took a tiny tap to knock it off the door. Luckily I juggle so I caught it!

For some time I’ve been thinking how to sort this issue out. A Justin clamp seemed the obvious solution, but the pile of Coroplast kept laughing at me from a corner.

This morning I came up with the answer. Now this isn’t as solid as a Justin clamp but I gave the door a good kick and it didn’t fall off. This solution will fit in your bag and take up nearly no room.

The picture here shows a bit of a ragged version, but it is my first attempt.

Cut the A4 sheet lengthways like this. See the vertical lines? I scored them onto the plastic with a ruler and a screwdriver. Their width was worked out by rolling my 580EXII along the plastic sheet! The slots in the bottom have been trimmed to half the slot length and then one slit cut in each.

I then rolled the whole thing up into a boxed tube. Now the slots make more sense. The slits allow me to fit the two sides together a little and give more rigidity. The whole thing is held together by a girl’s hairband. Ball bungee if you want, but I was going for FREE.

Now how does this help? Well those slots are just a fraction wider than a typical door.

And this is the “finished” version with my flash sitting in it on my office door. It is sturdy enough to hang the PW off and no risk of falling down.

Best of all I can flatten it out, it takes nearly no space in my bag and I can use two of them from one sheet of plastic.

Now quick, make one for yourself before Mr Fong finds out about it.

Great idea Mark! Thanks for sharing this with everyone!

As I told Mark, I use Justin clamps on the top of doors and other similar places but Mark’s DIY solution is way less expensive, takes up less room in the bag and is easier on the finish on doors (the spring on clamps is so strong you have to be very careful not to rough up the finish on doors).

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15 Responses to “How To Build A DIY Door Top Flash Holder”

  • That’s brilliant!

  • Great idea! Here is my solution, especially nice for the “height challenged”! Take a Christmas wreath hanger. Drill a hole in the center of the lip that hangs over the door. Get a shallow knob at the hardware store, screw it into a hot shoe/strobe stand at the top. Then take a short piece of 1/2 or 3/4 inch pvc and duct tape it to the handle (my hanger is about 14 inches long) and this makes for a sturdy, flash holder that is height friendly!

  • OK, this I will be making. Just this past weekend I decided to hit the door and knock one of my SB28’s off the door, it’s still working but it really sounds sickly…thank god it wasn’t my SB700 or I probably would have cried in the corner.

  • Nicely done Mark!

    Have you considered using a couple of hook & loop stick on tabs (a.k.a. Velcro) on your overlap for the closure?

  • Briiliant

  • Love it!

  • Awesome! Now when the sales person bumps the bathroom door on his way to add a missing lightbulb, I don’t have to worry about my YN-560 II facing the 8 ft drop test again. It survived! Thank goodness it wasn’t my SB-800. I would have probably cried too.

  • Absolutely clever! A low-cost/no-cost solution. Love it.

  • Dan, I hadn’t considered Velcro – mainly as I have a bunch of hair bands that I use for holding my “black foamie thing” in position when I use one so they were a natural “go to” item.

  • nice idea

  • The cheapest (and most often the best) solution I’ve found is just handholding. Most of the time we’re doing this in bedrooms and bathrooms, and I just always use one hand to take the shot and another to hold the flash. It also gives me a little more control depending on if I need to direct the light.

  • Love DIY solutions like that!
    I ended up getting the Sunpak clamp (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/272510-REG/Sunpak_620_785_Clamp_Pod_PRO.html), but the crappy thing is the ball head stinks, so luckily I had a little spare ball head that I put on it that works great.
    The thing I like about it is that I can clamp it on a massive amount of things, like chairs, my tripod legs, doors, etc.

  • I handhold when convenient (tiny bathrooms), but sometimes I need light source just above a door that is included in the picture. That’s when I’m glad I have a Pedco UltraClamp that I’ve had forever. It’s not good for much else, but it’s perfect for putting a flash securely on a door or a railing in a pinch. I had considered a DIY solution, but there are more thicknesses of doors than you might think, especially when going into older homes, so the project above won’t be a fix-all like an adjustable clamp will be. There are DIY solutions for that too if you don’t want to invest in the ultraclamp or similar device.

  • Great idea – perhaps it could be velcro-lined with felt or soft fabric to avoid any chance of scratching the clients’ doors?

    Michelle can you send a photo of your wreath-thingy for the vertically challenged? Worth seeing all ideas. Thanks.

  • I need to make a few of these! I just dropped an SB-80 and it cost me $85 bucks to replace the bulb!

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