Monday, February 2, 2009


I spent the weekend taking pictures of two Tulip plants I bought, one of the lucky things about living in Southern California, the plant departments never closes. The farmers market rarely gets rained out and if your lucky, you have flowers in the yard to use as a subject year round.

So what are these photos of, fake flowers..... But the flowers are really not the subject. I used my background stand and mono block strobes to take the tulip photos, but I was thinking about my snow bound friends with no strobes. Too cold for available light out side, so what do you do it you don't own strobe lights?

You hit the hardware store!

I took this flower photo using a pair of clip lights and 60 watt bulbs. To make a light stand I went to OSH and got some 1/2" PVC parts, I picked OSH because I knew they sell pre-cut small pieces so there would be little cutting. I used only slip connections (not to say I did not find a few threaded ones I had picked up by mistake-double check)

Parts List (one light stand $3.48):
3 x 18" pipes (.29 each)
5 "T"'s (.29 each)
4 caps (.29)

Cut two of the pipes in to 4 6" sections and 4 3" sections, this all the cutting this project took. Do not use glue if you want to make this super portable, if you have a place to store it, just glue the base and not the upright part
1.) attach 2 6" pipes to one of the slip T's at either of the straight side and cap the ends, make 2 sets like this.

2.) attach 2 3" sections like the first sections then attach the 2 longer sections at the "T"

3.) attach an 18" upright with a "T" on top
4.) adjust so the legs rest evenly on the table and the upright is straight and your done!

For my table top background stand $6.02:
11 x 18" sections .29 each (so it is easier to collapse or make shorter)
1 slip "T" .29
4 90 degree elbows .19
2 caps .29
3 couplers .14
and the only threaded parts (to add a bit of length to the back support)
1 T threaded coupler (with the angle part threaded) .45
1 slip to threaded adapter .33
1.) the top use; one "T" with a pipe on either side of the straight part of the "T"
2.) attach a 90 degree angle at either end.
3.) Make 2 uprights for the sides with 2 pipes and a coupler
4.) Make 2 legs using a cap at one end and a 90 degree angle at the other
5.) attach top to legs and legs to feet.....It will want to tip over so set something on the feet at this point. A bag of beans works well for this.
6.) back support; attach 2 pipes together with a coupler, at one end attach the threaded adapter and screw on to the angle part of the T
7.) attach to the center of the top and angle backwards for stability.
Now the fun begins! A towel, sheet, fabric, throw....use for your back ground or shorten one section of pipe and use foam core.
If you take this outside in your garden, remove the feet and add couple of water bottles and rubber bands to the legs and back support.
If your going to the wildflowers (like I plan) you might want to get 4 24" pipes. Use 2 for the sides with out the coupler, one for the back and cut one in half for the top with a "T" in the center.
This all will store easily in a bag and you can always use later for your sprinkler system. Think Tinkler Toys......
Oh, don't forget to set your camera for tungsten! You may want to use stronger bulbs, if you use fluorescent, set your camera to match. In RAW you can make adjustments too. You will need to either up your ISO or use a tripod. If you don't have a macro, try your widest lens, they usually have a better Depth of Field, but you will make what ever is closest to the lens look even bigger than it is, have fun!


  1. Carol, thanks so much for the detailed directions and illustrations of what you did. This is a very cool setup...and you take such lovely flower photos!

  2. What I did was I waited for a sale & purchased a worklight w/stand at the hardware store. It has 500 watts,& gives off plenty of light. I had a $10 coupon,\& sale price was $15.
    So all I had to pay was $5!
    What a bargain!

  3. Hi Marie,

    I had one of those too, $10 stand and all, but I had remove the safety grid on the front cause I was getting a pattern and since they are 500watts, I knew that two would blow our circuits. It kind of got hot too. I like smaller DOF, so I was getting more light than I wanted too. This set up works out really well for using at my dining room table with out a lot to store (no garage here)

    But the do work