Another Alternative For Building A Door Top Flash Holder

October 5th, 2014

TimDoorFlashHolderWhat’s a door top flash holder? If you’ve purchased Scott Hargis’s Lighting Interior book, subscribed to his video series or been to one of Scott’s workshops you’ll remember that the Basic Bedroom lighting setup involves a flash sitting on top of the door aimed back at the corner or wall. And if you’d used this setup for any length of time you have either knocked a flash on the floor or come very close to it at least once. To solve this problem PFRE readers have come up with a number of alternatives to prevent dropping flashes.

Here are a list of previous solutions to this problem:

  • 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. You do have to be careful that you don’t make marks on the top of the door because the spring is strong.
  • Nasty Clamps: Many readers use nasty 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.

This is the new solution: Tim Wilson of Richmond, VA has come up with another DIY approach. As the photo above shows, it’s a 6″ length of aluminum channel with a bolt in the middle that will attach to your flash. Read Tim’s post here for all the details. He’ll even sell you one if you’d like.

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13 Responses to “Another Alternative For Building A Door Top Flash Holder”

  • I have found that Kupo makes some great clamps.. Never heard of them until I stumbled upon that brand in my local camera shop.
    Quality is excellent.. Check them out:

  • Is the bolt he uses to secure the aluminum channel to the flash foot recessed? I looked at the enlarged images, but I couldn’t tell.
    I also built a DIY Door Top Flash Holder, but because my bolt head is not flush with the metal, it tilts a little.
    Thanks for sharing Larry.

  • @Cheryl, the bolt is counter sunk as much as possible (to the point that the head doesn’t need to be held when I tighten the bolt) so that it sits pretty tight as the image shows.

  • Been using this one for 95% of my bedroom shots–works great, very flexible, almost always there when you need it. Best of all, it’s free!

    What you do is aim it at any angle you’d like–very easy to tweak too!

  • #1 is a “Justin Clamp” with an umbrella/flash mount.
    I tried them all, and that’s the only one that works 100% all the time and 100% safe.
    You can find generic versions on Ebay for under $20. Just search “clamp” and dig around.

  • The “Kupo” website that Christoph mentioned has a Justin Clamp listed for $14.

  • @Mike, Great device, I have two of them. Lifetime warranty no less.

  • Hi,
    I recently posted on the PFRE discussions my zero cost option made out of a bit of cardboard. Link below:


  • @Chet–two of them! Nice! In all seriousness though, I must be doing something wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a time where I thought to myself, “I wish I had some device to hold the flash on the door”. Maybe once a month I have to balance one on top of a bathroom door so I don’t get my reflection in the mirror, but that’s about it. I seriously have the remote clicker in one hand and my flash in the other. What am I missing out by using my hand instead of balancing on the door? This topic comes up every couple months so I know I must be missing something if so many people are building these devices.

  • @Mike, I work almost the same way, just use the 2 second timer instead of the clicker. And after great thought and pondering it all, I have come to this conclusion:

    We are missing nothing!

  • Tim,
    Thanks for your prompt response and your version of a door top flash holder.

  • I used the Manfrotto clamp for awhile to do bathrooms and the like. Problem was the hot spot and mirrors, as always. I thought I would share what I do now. It’s a hybrid of Scott’s method using the clamp(I don’t use it for this any longer), a added flash shot and a very easy mask in PS. A good tripod is a must for this to work. Not touching your camera is also a must. My solution was to get my base flash exposure right, not worrying about the reflection of flash in the mirror. Just getting the space to the proper exposure like normal. I hand hold the flash in the corner somewhere above camera most the time, no clamp. Again, don’t worry about the flash being in the shot. Next, i normally go one stop higher on my flash then based on how the mirror reflects things, pop my flash into the ground/side of door/anywhere but where the flash pop will not show in the mirror. This is where you need to think cleverly on where to pop your flash and at what angle. Typically below the camera works and into the ground. This will fill and expose the reflected area of the entire mirror so you have a clean, even exposure of the mirror area without any hot spots or reflections of your flash. The angle of light and shadow is slightly different, but to me looks far better than a flash pop or spending time in PS editing it out with cloning and such. Next step is in post. Open both images as layers in PS from LR. Make a mask of the mirror in the first shot which is normally a simple square or rectangle shape, so not hard to create a easy mask. Refine the mask, then reveal the other layer of the shot that has no flash hot spot in it. Done. Very easy to do once you do it once or twice.

  • Seems like another good alternative to positioning a flash where a stand won’t fit.

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