A Do It Yourself Solution — Easily transport your off camera flash lighting equipment…
It’s hard to carry all the lighting gear from session to session… it’s cumbersome and heavy.
If you shoot portraits with artificial lights, you share the same disdain as me for carrying the cumbersome equipment for anything and everything off-camera-flash. Not only are we carrying a camera or two, we have a lens bag, lights, light stand, umbrella or softbox, and of course, after a couple wind-generated accidents and broken parts, a 20 lb. sandbag. And when we need to move to a different location, contemplating whether we collapse the light stand or just carry it to the next location, make a second trip for the sandbag, or just carry everything and looking like an unbalanced penguin.
Or better yet, just leave all the lighting gear behind, label ourself a natural light photographer, and just play up the nice romantic blown-out backgrounds, or better yet, just shoot only at the perfect golden hour.
Sigh… let’s just say “been there, done that…”
So in a quest to solve this dilemma, I had been searching for that perfect light stand that’s going to move with me easily from place to place. A rollable stand that I can carry my gear on and also use the gear weight to replace the evil sandbag. A stand light enough that I can stow and remove easily from my car. A stand that’s quick to setup. A stand that’s not going to cost me an arm and a leg to make, since obviously there’s none for sale that I know of.
One interesting solution I saw online was made out of a golf cart. As a golfer (okay, that’s a stretch), I know that golf carts can bear the weight of a heavy golf bag while traversing over smooth concrete surfaces, the not-so-smooth wet and dry grass fields, dirt, rocks, and even balance over steps. Plus, they’re designed to be lightweight, so you can haul it in and out of a car, and they’re designed to hold a pretty heavy golf bag.
Anyway, the original version of this golf push cart light stand was made by a fellow photographer, Peter Nguyen, and a follow-on by Joseph Philbert. Both these solutions use a version of a Bag Boy brand golf cart, which can be pretty pricey brand new, but you can sometimes find them on Craigslist if you’re lucky. And they both use a solution that requires some drilling. I don’t mind drilling, but I wanted to avoid doing that if somehow the solution I came up with didn’t work, and I needed to return something.
My solution — based on the inspiration described above:
I found a similar solution using a CaddyTek SuperLite Deluxe Golf Push Cart, which sells for approximately $80 on Amazon new. The solution still called for drilling a hole, but I challenged myself to come up with a simpler solution that didn’t require drilling. If I couldn’t come up with the solution, this would be what I would’ve gone with.
So thus began my mad research online, and three days later, I have this, using the same CaddyTek Golf Cart…
No drilling required, and the total cost of parts for this DIY solution — about $170, of course, not including light, battery, softbox, gear bag, reflector, and water bottle. While that might seem a little pricey to some, the benefit of a more stress-free shoot outweighs what amounts to a small fraction of what I’ve spent on photography gear.
So, the cart was identified, but what would I use for hanging the light? Backing up a little, as I was contemplating what I can use for a light stand, I found that my Impact Telescopic Collapsible Reflector Holder which for some reason hasn’t seem light of day, could be extended to like a light stand and with the 3/8″ diameter tip, I can mount and secure a speedlite adapter or a strobe. It’s not the typical 5/8″ diameter you see with light stands, but I mounted and screwed my speedlite adapter and my Paul C. Buff Einstein strobe, and they both seem to attach pretty solidly.
Here’s how the Impact Telescopic Collapsible Reflector Holder looks.
And here’s the 3/8″ tip where the speedlite adapter or strobe would attach to.
Now, I just needed a clamp that would tighten on the golf cart and at the same time provide a long enough stub to mount the reflector holder.
I had remembered that a Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp came with a short stub just for mounting speedlites to wherever the Super Clamp can be clamped on.
And sure enough, that would work, but I felt I needed a longer stub to offset the reflector holder. Luckily, I found a cheap solution with the Avenger E600C 5/8-Inch Snap-In Steel Pin for Super Clamp. This is how they look connected.
The Super Clamp comes with a little wedge that can be placed in the jaw to clamp onto a flat surface. Make sure that wedge is in place. The above photos show it in place, but it doesn’t come pre-connected to the clamp. Here’s how the wedge looks separated from the clamp.
Now you’re ready to connect the clamp to the shaft of the golf cart. I find that it’s good to stick a strong velcro to the shaft on both sides before clamping so make sure the clamp doesn’t slide around the smooth shaft. I use the Velcro Brand Industrial Strength Tape. You may have something like this lying around the house.
And make sure to tighten as much as you can without bending the shaft. This is what’s going to secure the reflector holder and softbox while they’re swaying in the wind. Connect the reflector holder to the stud and tighten.
Straighten the post of the reflector holder. It should be vertical.
And adjust the post to be about 6 inches off the floor. The post should be touching the golf cart’s lower shaft. Secure the post to the shaft with a long strip of velcro. This will help limit sideway movement of the post and will put less pressure on the clamp should the wind picks up. Make sure this velcro does not have the sticky glue and is easily removable so you can disconnect the reflector holder from the golf cart.
This is how everything should look assembled.
The really cool thing is that the main parts used can be re-used for other purposes since everything comes apart really easily. The reflector holder can still be used on top of a light stand if you want to hang it down or at an angle. The super clamp can be used to hang speedlites inconspicuously in a lot of places, for instance if you’re shooting an event. And of course, you can go for a round of 18 with the golf cart. 🙂
So just to re-cap, here’s the shopping list for this project.
Keep in mind that not all golf cart shafts will work with the Manfrotto Super Clamp, so if you don’t opt for the CaddyTek cart, you may run into problem getting the light stand at the right angle.
- CaddyTek SuperLite Deluxe Golf Push Cart
- Impact Telescopic Collapsible Reflector Holder
- Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp
- Avenger E600C 5/8-Inch Snap-In Steel Pin for Super Clamp
- Velcro Brand Industrial Strength Tape
Now go make one!
Alex Win is the owner and photographer at Alex Win Photography and runs a for-photographer-only blog at Say Cheese where you can see more enhancements made to this push cart as well as other for-photographer-only fun. You can follow Alex Win Photography on Facebook here.