What started off as a quick lighting test in my garage has turned into a full research and installation of my own DIY photography ceiling rail system! You might now ask why? Whats the point? It’s a garage. It’s tiny. And that’s just it, it is tiny. I mean my shooting space measures 10ft x 7ft! Not a great space for shooting portraits.
Ok, so you might manage it with one light on a stand/boom. But what if, like me, you like using more than one light? I tend to use a 3 light setup when shooting my creative portraits and setting up 3 stands with soft boxes becomes very cramped in such a small space.
It was during these sessions that I decided to look into buying a ceiling rail system to create more floor space/room. But, they were expensive! Great systems for the studio but my garage space is intended for trying out a quick lighting setups and ideas. So it doesn’t warrant such an expense but I loved the idea. So I decided to build my own below is a quick video of it.
Here’s the bit I came across that I love. This RIVETER GUN! I found it at a local tool store and the whole concept was built from there.
- Lazy Tong Riveter – $36
Next I looked into using Unistrut for the rails.
Next I needed to attach something to the handle of the riveter gun to slide in the track. I found this Unistrut channel trolley.
It worked perfectly! I simply drilled a hole for an M4 bolt and attached it with a washer and 2 nuts. It has a 400 newton force load so you will need to check out the weight of your lights and gear and make sure you don’t exceed that limit, you can google it and find a conversion calculator.
The next step was to attach a spigot to the end of the riveter gun. As if by magic at the end of the gun was a small bolt so I unscrewed that and the spigot simply screwed in. It was a perfect fit!
The next step was to attach the Unistrut to the garage roof. An easy process of screwing it to the roof joist with screws and washers. The riveter gun and channel trolley glided along length of Unistrut down the centre. Perfect!
I decided to build on that and try to use the full space allowing the light to reach every corner so I built a H frame with the Unistrut screwing 2 lengths parallel to each other down the length of the shooting area. I cut another length of strut for the width. I then attached another two channel trolleys at each end with bolts and slotted them into the 2 Unistruts screwed to the joists. This allowed me to pull the light down the full length and width of the shooting space
Now I have all the floor space to use with no obstructions! I was pretty chuffed with what I could achieve in a small space. Heres a few shots using the rail system.
Wanted to share this DIY hack with you guys as its made a great difference to my small studio!
About the Author
Barry Mountford is a portrait photographer based in Gateshead, England. His goal is to capture the hidden side of a person. The cool, mysterious, fun side that many people don’t even know they have. You can find out more about him on his website, follow his work on Instagram and Facebook or reach out to him through Twitter. This article was also published here and used with permission.