One of my favorite lighting accessoris that I use on almost everyone shoot, is simple piece of white foam board. You can get them at an art supply store or even the dollar store sometimes.. So a 30 x 40 inch white board can cost between a $1 and $5 depending on where you shop. Not a bad deal for all you can do with it. Whenever I can bounce light vs. setting up a fill light, I’ll always use that option.. it adds nice fill light without being “sourcey”
I almost always shoot alone (without an assistant) so holding those white boards requires some sort of articulating stand to position it exactly where I need it. From a horizontal position at the model’s chest with a beauty dish for a clamshell lighting set up, to a side fill.. I need to put it in place, lock it in and get back to shooting.
I’m a big fan of grip equipment.. C-Stands, clamps, scrims.. the works. Sure, they’ll cost an arm and a leg but they’ll take a beating and should last you a career of faithful service. I’ve spent around $35 (USD) for a little device from the grip store that will hold my white foam boards in place.. they’re sturdy and work like a charm. But I looked at it for exactly what it was, and then I thought.. hey, I need to make a trip to the hardware store, because I bet I can basically make this for only a few bucks! And I was right!
So this is what you get for $35 (USD) to hold your piece of foam core.
The foam board holder is basically two sturdy pieces of 5 x 5 plates with a hole in the center, a 6 inch stem with threads and two screws on each side of the board to pinch the plates together, creating a sturdy stem to put in a grip head (or umbrella holder) so you can move articulate the board into almost any position you’d need it.
And this is what you need from the hardware store to make basically the same thing for under $4 (USD).
Two 5 inch plates with holes in them , found in the electric section of the store, a heavy duty 6-8 inch bolt (with threads from end to end, two large washers and one nut to tie it all together.
- Just take some grip pliers and slightly bend down the four edges of each plate so the plates can dig into the foam board and keep it from slipping around.
- Put one of the washers on to the head end of the bolt.
- Put one of the plates on the bolt with the bent edges facing away from the bolt’s head.
- Find the center of the foam board and drive the bolt through the foam board.
- Put the other plate on the bolt, this time with the bent edges facing the back of the foam board.
- Put on the other washer.
- Screw the nut on to the bolt, screwing it in tight to create a tight squeeze between the two plates on each side of the foam board. The pointed edges of each plate should now be digging into the foam board.
This literally took 10 minutes to make.. and with this little device on top of a stand, with a grip head, or an umbrella holder, you can place your foam board into almost any position you need it.. on location or in the studio.
Now get out there and bounce some pretty light!
About The Author
Patrick Shipstad is an LA photographer with a background in music, sound design and video production. In addition to a passion for creative composition and detailed lighting, his philosophy for shooting is simple. Don’t just shoot a pose, capture a moment. And just shoot a face, capture the emotion, Oh, and bend your darn knees to find the more creative angle! You can see more of his work on his site or follow his Facebook.