Here’s 50 ways to use gaffer tape and some of them might surprise you

Jun 8, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Here’s 50 ways to use gaffer tape and some of them might surprise you

Jun 8, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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50_uses_for_gaffer_tape

In the words of Jay P Morgan, “If you can’t fix it with gaff tape, it probably does not deserve to be fixed”, and he’s right.  Gaffer tape (or gaff tape, if you prefer) is one of the most useful and versatile things you can keep in your camera bag.

Probably the most common use for me is hanging flags from light stands or attaching snoots made from Cinefoil to flashes, but here’s at least 50 ways you can use your gaffer tape, courtesy of The Slanted Lens.

YouTube video

Tip #3 is also one I use quite often, and can be invaluable for both stills and video.  Even on location, markers on the ground will help you get your subject position themselves perfectly in the shot time after time.

gaffer_tape_marking_position

For video, you can also put your tape down in the form of arrows to show direction of movement between static positions, and if you have several actors, it’s helpful to have different colours of tape for each one to prevent confusion.

One tip mentioned here, that I don’t use myself, is to use it in place of a step up ring.  If your filter is larger than your lens, and you don’t happen to have step up rings available, then gaffer tape can be a great way to hold it together.

gaffer_tape_step_up_ring

The reason I bring this one up, though, is because it kind of relates to something I do sometimes do.  I use Schneider 4×5.65″ ND filters, especially when shooting video with DSLRs to ensure I can get a 1/50th of a second shutter speed.  Because I don’t usually need a full blown rig with a matte box, I’ll often use them with a Cokin Z-Pro holder.

schneider_nd

The only problem with this setup is that the filters stick out of the sides, as you can see in the image above.  This can cause huge amounts of flare in the image in bright conditions, even if the sun is well out of shot or even behind you, due to light hitting the edges and bouncing around inside the filter.

Other filters systems like the Cokin P series, Lee’s 100mm square filters can also potentially suffer from this problem if you’re not using some kind of hood or shade.  Gaffer tape around the edge of the filter stops the light hitting the edges, and will also help to ensure that your filters don’t slide out of the holder, too!

As a location shooter in England, where the weather’s about as predictable as a roulette wheel, this use is another that often comes in very handy for me.

gaffer_tape_covering_lights

It’s not going to protect your lights in a downpour, but it will certainly help in a light shower, or when you’re shooting in the clouds, as happened when I assisted photographer Graham Binns on one particular shoot in Yorkshire a couple of years ago.

Anyway, watch the video, maybe you’ll pick up a trick or two.

Update : I originally meant to mention, and forgot, that gaffer tape and duct tape are two VERY different things.  Duct tape is often mislabelled as gaffer tape, so, be sure to buy quality tape from a photographic or theatrical supplies place, and not the local hardware store! (thanks for the reminder, Paul).

What other photographic uses for gaffer tape do you have that weren’t mentioned?  Let us know in the comments.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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12 responses to “Here’s 50 ways to use gaffer tape and some of them might surprise you”

  1. Antony Cousens Avatar
    Antony Cousens

    I have a friend who says the only thing gaffer tape can’t fix is a broken heart.

    1. Paul McMahon Avatar
      Paul McMahon

      Awwww I was in such a good mood after this nice fun vid, now I’m sad again. We need to find a way to make gaffer tape fix broken hearts

  2. Jack Thomas Avatar
    Jack Thomas

    Jay P. talks way too fast in the video! :(

  3. Tac Coluccio Avatar
    Tac Coluccio

    Thank God there’s a video to help me use tape, I don’t know how I could have survived without it.

  4. gunfighterzero Avatar
    gunfighterzero

    As a photographer and constructions trade professional, that crap you buy at walmart or home depot is not duct tape either. Just a cheap facsimile. Real duct tape can barely be torn by hand and sticks to anything

    1. Scott Desmier Avatar
      Scott Desmier

      Duct tape is for ducting. Gaffa tape is used by Gaffers. Two very different kinds of tape.
      Duct tape shouldn’t come off, whereas gaffa tape is designed to be removed.

      1. gunfighterzero Avatar
        gunfighterzero

        Re-read my statement and tell me where i said the two are interchangeable. Or anything close to the same thing.

        1. Scott Desmier Avatar
          Scott Desmier

          I was embellishing on your statement, so as to be understood by the layman.

  5. Adam Frimer Avatar
    Adam Frimer

    *going out to buy gaffer tape*

  6. Jayson Carey Avatar
    Jayson Carey

    I LOVE gaff tape, but I HATE that shiny crap that calls itself gaff.

  7. Jyi Offer Avatar
    Jyi Offer

    50 ways to get rid of the crap gaffer you bought when you couldn’t find 357?

  8. John Williamson Avatar
    John Williamson

    This works, too. ;-)
    .