Sunday, January 22, 2012

Field Expedient Sand Bag

Every now and then a sandbag can be very helpful. Let's say you're using a speed light on a portable portable light stand. You'll find the slightest breeze may cause the whole thing to topple over. What you need is some ballast to keep you light in place.

Obviously, carry a filled sandbag is not a viable option unless you have a strong and willing entourage following you about. I don't know about you, but I tend to find myself alone when I'm in the field, so I'm pretty much on  my own. But I've found an easy way to use my camera bag as ballast by carrying a simple accessory.

I normally carry a flashlight carrying ring snapped on the strap of my camera bag. I found it in a hardware store next to the Maglight flashlights. You may (or may not) know that for many years Maglites have been employed as batons by law enforcement personnel until the PR-24 became the standard issue for most departments. Now I'm been known to carry my monopod in exactly the same manner. But these carrying ring can also be used to turn your camera bag into a handy form of ballast.

Here's a close-up of the the ring hanging on one of the tension knobs of a typical light stand. For the purpose of the photo, the bag is hung much higher on the light stand that prudent, since any weight so high on the stand doesn't provide optimal ballast. The ring is not designed to hold much weight, but if you can allow the camera bag to rest partially on the ground, you'll be fine.

You may ask yourself why I don't just use the shoulder strap. Having the flashlight carrying ring gives me the flexibility to use a variety of attachment points that one might find on the bag such as the D rings or the carrying handle itself (as seen here).

Anyway, it's an inexpensive addition to you "kit" that just might come in handy. However, when I discussed this with a friend, reminded me that an inexpensive carabiner will do exactly the same thing.

For my Chinese readers, Gung Hay Fat Choy!

If you're wondering, those are droplets of rain that you see in the photos.