Doortop Flash Can Save You A Huge Amount Of Time For Small Rooms

August 7th, 2016

DoorTopFlash

In his book, The Essential Guide To Lighting Interiors  Scott Hargis describes a simple but effective technique for using a single manual flash to light small rooms like bathrooms and small bedrooms. Scott has a whole chapter dedicated to explaining all the details and all the variations. By setting the flash on the top of the open door pointing up at the ceiling/wall joint you can light most small bedrooms and bathrooms. This means you can shoot a bunch of rooms in a property in literally a few minutes and get the lighting right on. Sure, you have to set the power right but once you do a few you’ll guess the right power easily.

Just don’t bump the door while you are shooting and knock the flash  off. Sometimes the flash will survive and sometimes it won’t. So over the years people have come up with clamps and gadgets to prevent the flash from falling off.

Here are some approaches to keeping the flash from falling off:

  • Manfrotto 175F-1 Clamp: This is one of my favorites because it easily clamps to the top of doors (if you are tall enough to attach it). It also easily attaches to a light stand. I always have one of these attached to one light stand. This clamp was the winner in a vote by readers on what the best clamp for attaching flashes to doors. You do have to be careful that you don’t make marks on the top of the door because the spring is strong.
  • ActionPod Pro: Many readers use clamps.
  • DIY door top flash holder by Mark Cornwell: This is a very inexpensive approach and very easy to make.
  • Rich Baum’s DIY clamp: Rich’s post explains nicely what you want in a clamp… won’t harm the door and has a very nice inexpensive solution.

In summary, there are many solutions to protecting your flash from falling off the door but with a little care, you can get by with just setting it on the door.

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13 Responses to “Doortop Flash Can Save You A Huge Amount Of Time For Small Rooms”

  • The problem with the Manfrotto 175F-1 is the cold shoe. I’ve had a couple of these clamps and both failed from when the flash ripped the thin plastic lugs from the shoe after a sudden movement.. My advice is to buy the replacement shoe along with the clamp. Glad to know Amazon has the replacement parts. B&H didn’t.

  • Larry,
    Good morning.
    It is a perfect timing for me. Recently (after near death experience to one of my Nikon speed lights) I have been searching for some clamp options to stabilize the flash stand.
    Thanks a lot for this article; will be getting one of them soon.
    Good day,
    Raj

  • These have also worked well for me at a fraction of the cost of the manfrotto. Same issue with the cold shoe as Waldo mentioned so I just screw on the flash with the base. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JX0LG6U/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

  • For small rooms, I have gone handheld. I use the spidermonkey(http://spiderholster.com/spider-monkey) and clip a light to my belt. In small rooms, I just hold the light in the corner. Very fast, and no dropped flashes, and the flash is always handy.

  • I have photos of the hanger I built in my photostream on Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/89572435@N07/

    Like Ty, I hand hold my flash much of the time. I use a Yongnuo 560 flash system and have a RF-603 transceiver that I use to snap the shutter so I can easily hold a flash if I need to. My unfashionable (so I am told) cargo shorts have several large pockets to stuff a flash or two into.

    I still set flashes on top of doors once in a while, but I know it’s only a matter of time before I’m sweeping up a bunch of plastic bits.

  • I advise against using a mount with a small ballhead. I’ve had nothing but problems with those.

  • Ty,
    Love the SpiderMonkey device; very cool!
    How does flash communicate with camera? Pocket Wizard? Sync Cable?

  • Seems like a lot of the houses I shoot have oversized doors and I can’t possibly get a light on top of them without a stool. So, I just use a light on a stick(monopod). I think it’s even faster overall and get better lighting in the room when I extend the monopod way out into the room and blast it up, rather than behind.

  • I do sit my flash on top of the door some times, especially small rooms, haven’t dropped one yet. I do find my nicefoto hand held angled at the same corner ala scott hargis does about the same and less chance of dropping something and I can bring the power up even more when needed.

  • I used to use this method, but now just use my flash on a stick. Mounted a light to a monopod and just hold it in the best position. Gives me a little more flexibility on placement, plus I don’t have to worry about suicide flashes.

  • I’ve been using my hand to hold the flash and aim–works great and it’s cheap!

  • I bought a plastic door mount hanger from Dollartree, modified it with the flash holder and very easy to hand hold or attach to the door top. From Amazon, I got a tripod pouch for 10 bucks and it holds the flash while moving around.

  • @cal. I use radio poppers. I just have Velcro on the receiver and flash and connect with a sync cable. 2002 tech at its finest!

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