Zac Fisher Photo 7:23pm, 11 March 2010
I'm trying to figure out a way to get a large 30"x60" alien bees softbox + alien bees strobe mounted directly above a motorcycle. I've got an alien bees stand and boom arm, but the arm won't extend out far enough to get directly over the bike and remain stable + be out of the shot.

Can any one offer up any suggestions for how to mount a large alien bees softbox directly over something about 6 ft long and be stable?

lordtara1981 8 years ago
Hang more weight on the counterweight end to balance it out.
danbaker30 8 years ago
If you have stucture overhead you could use a superclamp with a stud mount?

Try the boom at a bit more of an angle?

No denying its a PIA..
gryphon1911 [A.Live] 8 years ago
Could you get some foam core above the bike and angle some strobes up to it?
SaltGeorge 8 years ago
Have you got a background support that will span across the whole scene?
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
I'd like to maybe try supporting it between two stands with a bar in the middle. Problem is, the way those stupid alien bees strobes are ... aren't really conducive to that kind of attachment. I'm sure they make something for this, im just not sure what it's called or where to get it.
Kinematic Digit PRO Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Kinematic Digit (member) 8 years ago
Try the manfrotto double clamp. Then you can hang the boom arm off the supporting bar on the backdrop stand. No special hardware other than that and you can pull it off quickly to put it back on the single vertical stand.

Pretty inexpensive too. Also safer than counterweighting more as I can see quite a bow in your boom arm already and wouldn't want to extend it by much further. The double clamp allows you to just put all the weight onto the supporting arm and if you need to extend a little from the supporting bar you still can.
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
Ah I see what you're talkin about. I don't have a backdrop stand though. Know of any good ones that will support a decent amount of weight in the middle? Or is there any way to convert two normal light stands into a backdrop stand?
jim@jmp 8 years ago
I saw a guy at a show, he had a big old c stand and at the top he had made a bracket that looked like a "U". he had a 1600 mounted on a long pole and a really big guy working it,
He could slide it in or out and used the stand in the middle as a pivot point , that way he didn't have to hold the thing out.
Kind of like a see-saw.
Bippa1 Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Bippa1 (member) 8 years ago
As jim@jmp says, see-saw type boom that they use on film set. Big bucks though.

Span the whole bike, you can get aluminum to 6 meters in length.

Guy ropes, either on the other side of the stand going up to a lightpole tree or something, or on the same side as the stand stopping it from toppling.

What ever you do you will need shot bags, the vagabond is good as well.

Voice activated light stands are also very handy in this situation.
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
I'm having a real hard time picturing this see-saw thing - have you got any pics?
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
Can anyone tell from this video what this guy is using to support his softboxes? Where do you buy / what do you call something like that?
Bippa1 Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Bippa1 (member) 8 years ago
Jon Winters Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Jon Winters (member) 8 years ago
If you've got coin the Manfrotto Super Boom gets the job done.

Photoflex softboxes have loops for hanging at each corner. An inexpensive way would be to use paracord and suspend the box from a pair of background stands.
Bippa1 8 years ago
I would get this fabricated. Its like a truss used as radio antennas.

Three aluminum poles with zigzag bracing between them all. You may get away with two poles and bracing if you hung the frame from the top pole.
Bippa1 8 years ago
@Jon Winters Just be careful the Superboom might still not have the reach you need.
rainypete PRO 8 years ago
Second what bippa said. That's a length of truss used by all manner of lighting people and DJ types. The one in that video looks to be mounted on a pair of ratchet hoisted stands sort of like this kit here
Bippa1 Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Bippa1 (member) 8 years ago
@rainypete Thats the ticket! What is its span? I would also go with Aluminum.
quackator2000 8 years ago
Manfrotto NW083 new wind up lamp stand, MA 123 pivot clamp,
35mm diameter steeltube with 3mm wall thickness, 9ft long,
Manfrotto swivel C-clamp for the lamp and a counterweight of
25 to 30 kg for the short side of the boom.

That works very well.
Cardinal Ogalthorpe 8 years ago
Use a bigger stronger boom.
Albert Taylor 8 years ago
Use a bigger stronger boom. "

Now that's just crazy talk!!!!

: )
Several years ago, another local photographer had this issue in his studio; he needed to move it around, yet have it over head. He and I went looking for a solution, and here it is:

Of course, we did not install any of the swings on it, but we added wood blocks and casters to the feet.

The one we ended up with was about 15' wide.


PS--image from:
aloof board [deleted] 8 years ago
I am with

oglethrope and albert taylor......

spending money on good stands is worth it.....i have bought the alien bees 'heavy duty' stands and put overhead weight on it......and it sounds like it might hold?????........recently we had a big commercial shoot and we used some avenger c-stands and the manfrotto super boom.....the difference is unimaginable!

pay a little more up front so you don't have to pay again in the future! Posted 8 years ago. Edited by (member) 8 years ago
How about one of those 10'x10' or 10'x20' white collapsible tents that people use for craft shows etc. Could mount or bounce any number of lights up into the tent. By putting black cloth or paper in areas to control the size and direction you could come up with a huge softbox effect easily and fairly inexpensively. They also have sides that could be used to bounce light onto the sides etc.
acceptable question [deleted] 8 years ago
All those kids in the studio must have wreaked havoc during shoots. I assume he did not do glamour photography?
Cardinal Ogalthorpe 8 years ago
Avenger C-Stand and D600 Miniboom. I own several. They work great with my WL X1600 and X3200s and large softboxes.
Two stepladders and a 2x6.
ChrisVPhoto 8 years ago
Ghostwheelppk that's just asking for a broken light and a dented bike.
Dennis Dietz 8 years ago
Why, its much more stable than that contraption shown in the original image. If you want to be safer, clamp or screw the 2x6 to the top of the ladder.

In my opinion, sometimes you need to buy the right equipment, but what if it is a one time use. You can either rent or make do with the materials at hand. Supporting an umbrella and light between two sides will be very strong and stable as all teh force is applied directly down through each side. nothing can tip, bend, twist, etc. Heck, a pole between two medium duty 8' lightstands would be safer, stronger, and much more stable than the OP image setup.
W.G.W. 8 years ago
ghostwheelppk (Rocky Lee) Posted 8 years ago. Edited by ghostwheelppk (Rocky Lee) (member) 8 years ago
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
Thanks for all the great suggestions guys! I'll post a pic of what I end up with.
RB (Bob) Jones 8 years ago
Zac if this is going to be a one off use your regular stands and 2 super clamps on top of them. Buy a piece of metal electrical conduit from a building supply place, I think they come up to 12 feet. Go with a larger size about 2" and clamp that to your stands bridge the bike and mount your softbox on the 2" pipe where ever you need it.

If you need a longer length use top rail from chain link fence they come with a tapered end to join two pieces together, but are heavier than conduit.

Love my super clamps!!!
FotoJim AKA ipress Posted 8 years ago. Edited by FotoJim AKA ipress (member) 8 years ago
Sportsbob solution is similar to what I made. I buy electric conduit poles at home depot. At mine they are 10 feet long. I have not looked for longer ones. I suspend a cross pole over my shooting are by placing two five gallon pails filled with cement on the edge. Each pail holds a 10 ft conduit pole. I slide a larger diameter over the pole in the pail. I can raise and lower the softbox since the wider diameter pole is not permanent. I hold the larger diameter pole in place with a super clamp. I hope these photos help show what i do. If wanted this to be portable, I would first place pvc pipe int he concrete pails so the 10 ft poles could be removed. Hope this helps. Oh just remember when this is this high, you want some kind of remote way of adjusting the light. I turn this on at a power strip on the floor and I have an alien bee wired remote on the left pole to adjust it. The unit is a 1600 alien bee.
epatsellis 8 years ago
FWIW, nearly all softboxes have rings or loops at each corner, some keychain sized carabiners and some get the idea.
jim@jmp 8 years ago
Zac, I don't have a draw program, but here's something close.

It was just a c stand, with an opening on the top and he had just a long pole, similar to a painters pole, the soft box was on one end and the human was on the other, by moving the pole in and out he was able to balance the soft box with one hand.
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
ipress_2006, that looks PERFECT! I'm going to give that a try. I actually don't need tons of height, but I will need more width than that. How much are them super clams?
RB (Bob) Jones 8 years ago
Zac super clamps run from $25.00 to $40.00 on ebay. Try B&H Photo on line as their prices are usually good.

Also depending on the height of your ceiling Manfrotto make an adjustable pole that goes from floor to ceiling and adjust to make a tight fit. These are good if you don't have the footprint room for pails or stands.
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
ok this is pretty ghetto, but this is what I built:

It's two 7 foot lengths of 1.5" PVC pipe, with one 7 foot length of 2" over the middle to stabilize. It's actually pretty sturdy - but I don't have the balls to put a light on it ... yet. Dare I?
ea83 Posted 8 years ago. Edited by ea83 (member) 8 years ago
Also could consider something foldable like these

Be sure its footprint is very wide .
Bippa1 8 years ago
Zac Fisher Photo. ....... Yeah thats agricultural all right. You know you could extend the light stand up past the plumbing junction, and run a guy wire down to the bolts to take some of the weight.
FotoJim AKA ipress Posted 8 years ago. Edited by FotoJim AKA ipress (member) 8 years ago
Zac Fisher Photo - the clamp that I used to hold the light on the cross bar over heard is from Calumet phtoto. and this avenger pin is used to attach the clamp head to the light unit.
I buy super clamps where ever I find them, ebay, craigslist and many photo stores.
rebel memory [deleted] Posted 8 years ago. Edited by rebel memory (member) 8 years ago
I would think a strong chain or cable run inside those PVC pipes would add enough strength (and additional safety margin) for your light if all of it is attached strongly at the ends. But I'm not going to swing on it!
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
Well, it held up under test! No catastrophic crashes or anything! Only problem is, I'm not getting the height out of it that I want. Need to find a way to attach it to the tip top of those stands so I can raise it up all the way.

I definitely need to get some reflectors too, so I can bounce some of that light from above up from the ground and onto the motor to bring up those shadows
Scheimpflug Rules 8 years ago
Try an extendable aluminum ( or composite ) painter's pole as your horizontal support.

It's much sturdier than ABS or PVC tubing, and it collapses for transport. Use 2 manfrotto superclamps to secure it to your 2 light stands. This will allow you to use the entire height of your light stands. One additional superclamp will attach your flash / softbox combo to the painter's pole.

Try placing one light stand in front of the bike, and one at the back in the opposite corner. You'll still be able to hang your light where you want, but now you have room to work around the bike from both the front and back.

It's a good idea to attach a safety wire or rope from the pole to the flash in case anything lets go. Add sandbags to your stands for stability.
FlashZebra Posted 8 years ago. Edited by FlashZebra (member) 8 years ago
Many soft boxes have four loops on the back side you can use to tie the box overhead using 4 relatively light nylon cords.

Enjoy! Lon
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
Yeah for $25 a pop I might go with the 3 super clams and painters pole idea.

Those alien bees softboxes dont have any loops that I can find.
Jim Lafferty 8 years ago
Two stands; pipe clamps (aka big bens); cross bar (or two autopole extensions); superclamp with 2 or 3" pin; several sandbags.
RB (Bob) Jones 8 years ago
Zac what is your ceiling like? Are there open rafters or can you hang your cross pipe from it? Think along the lines of a gantry crane, but smaller. A cross bar, be it pipe a 2x6 or whatever and hang the softbox from it. You could also put in a substantial screw eye into the ceiling joist and hang the softbox with light chains from that. Not as flexible for position as a cross beam.
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
I'm actually going for an on-location setup here, so mounting to the ceiling isn't an option
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
I like the big ben / auto pole idea, but it seems like it's more expensive than the super clamps
clever songs [deleted] 8 years ago
get a basketball player plus some ladie with extremely long, yet strong, arms.
Hook them up and wait for the outcome!
...The worlds best VAL.
kyhsmith52 PRO 8 years ago
My solution requires three super-clamps. Remove the brass stud from two of them. Fit the hole (where the stud was!) over the stud part of the lightstand(s). Now all you need is a suitable crossbar, up to the capacity of the super-clamp jaws. I don't like pvc for the crossbar... too whippy. How about three sections of 2" black pipe, or 2" galvanized pipe (less messy!) and a couple of threaded unions to tie everything together? Use the last super-clamp to make the final connection to the light. You will likely need a double-ended stud for this...
FotoJim AKA ipress 8 years ago
Nice to see the progress Zac. I had a similar problem with mine. (see my previous link above). I first build mine with 1 inch conduit pipe. When I bought a large box, I needed some height. I returned to my big box store and bought 1.5 inch conduit. I slipped the large pipe over the first pipe. Then you can raise the thicker pipe up higher you can drill a hole and slide a metal pin to keep the wider pipe at the height you want.. I use super clamps to support it. Instead you could drill a hole and save the money.
wetplates 8 years ago
How bout some 2X4's and a few bolts, some rope, and tent anchors. I had a similiar need as you....tall, overhead lighting.

I used 4-2X4X12's and 1-2X4X14

Lay the 2X4X12's (2 of them) on top of each other.....drill a 3/4 inch hole through them about 5 inches from the top. These are your end boards. Do this to all 4 of the short boards.

The longer 2X4 (span board) drill a hole into the end of it 4-6 inches deep.

Now, take both sets of end boards and lay them down on the ground with the long span between them. Slip a 10" bolt through the holes and into the span board. Do this at each end. Get a rope and tie each top end (where bolts are) to each other across the top. Nothing is bolted together, just slipped together.

With help, stand the contraption up and spread the end boards apart to make an upside down V shape. Get more rope and tie it down (one long tent stake at each end was enough to keep it from swaying.)

In the end it looks like a start to a swing set.

In the middle (where you want to mount the light), simply screw in a lag bolt and attach the light to it.

I was able to hang a large softbox on mine with no worry of it falling, drooping, etc. Held it over racing gocarts and small kids.

Hope that description made some sense.


Take the
basswork 8 years ago
After fooling around with various cheaper and flimsier solutions, last fall I bought myself a C-stand for $160 at Filmtools in Burbank (CA). Best money I ever spent.

When you position a light, it stays put, and you can put a light anywhere.
Scheimpflug Rules 8 years ago
It's also a good idea to invest in liability insurance when you work on location. Imagine the repair costs if the wind blows your stands over onto someone's Jesse James custom bike.

Or onto Jesse James.
Cardinal Ogalthorpe 8 years ago
yeah the $300 for the stand and boom and sandbags is pretty cheap compared to fixing a dented chopper.
ChrisVPhoto 8 years ago
Not to mention its nice to jack a C-stand up 15 feet, with a boom arm on it (counterweighted, of course) and have an octabank overhead...
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
Just got my Super Clams in from Adorama yesterday - these things are awesome!! They don't feel cheap and flimsy (like most of my AB gear) and they operate very smoothly. I'm using 3 of them in conjunction with (3) 5 foot sections of 3/4 inch black iron pipe threaded together. This setup is way simpler than what I had going on before, and it's pretty darn sturdy! Check it out:

kyhsmith52 PRO 8 years ago
Don't you just love it when a plan comes together? Super clamps and black pipe, quite likely the cheapest solution to this lighting/lifting/support situation... and it gets the job done :-).
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
well it wasn't THAT cheap - super clamps were $25 each and the pipe was $9 a piece plus $1.50 for the threaded joints so like ... $30. I guess a normal boom arm is around $100 so $105 for a 15 foot overhead support aint too bad
kyhsmith52 PRO 8 years ago
That is my point. Any of the other solutions would have cost lots more. The $100 boom would not have been big enough, and you would have needed a larger and more robust light (read, expensive!) stand in order to use the boom that would have been appropriate to the job at hand... This way you can mostly use the gear that you already have. The major new part of this rig actually cost less than the fittings needed to make it work... and the fittings (the super clamps) can be used for other things... and the rig can be broken down for easy transport.
jack satta (fnb) 8 years ago
Saving pennies here could lead to blunt trauma.
RB (Bob) Jones 8 years ago
Zac I was just at Home Depot and they have their patio furniture out. One item I saw and thought of your problem right away. There was a cantilevered patio umbrella that cranked up and down with a single anchor point. Looked sturdy enough to hold your light box, was somewhat portable and was adjustable.

Might be too low but have a look in the patio furniture displays.
Zac Fisher Photo 8 years ago
Yeah kyhsmith I'm super pumped to see what else I can use these super clamps for! I'm really glad I picked them up.

Jack Satta, know any good insurance companies? =P

Sportsbob, I'll check out the displays - I actually need some patio furniture haha!
kyhsmith52 PRO 8 years ago
@ jack satta (fnb)
It all depends on how you save the pennies...
The black pipe is robust, as are the super clamps. The weight of the rig is spread out over two light stands. Where is the "weak point" vs the "big boom theory"?
quackator2000 8 years ago

That is the above mentioned solution.
RB (Bob) Jones 8 years ago
Zac one of the nice things you can do with the 3/4" black pipe is to use Tees and other junctions to make your setup very flexible. You can make a three point support if the weight gets too heavy. The pipe and super clamps also make good background supports.

If you use a strap wrench instead of a pipe wrench you can get them tight and not chew up the pipe surface. Those damn little bits that the pipe wrench causes hurt on my poor soft hands!!
Groups Beta