August 4

1 comments

Never Go Anywhere Without a Clamp

By Dan

August 4, 2011

If I have a mantra when it comes to location photography, it’s this: Never Go Anywhere Without a Clamp.

Clamps are cool. Jaws, spring and a handle. So simple, and yet so versatile. Clamps let you solve so many problems when you’re out on assignment. They’re essentially like assistants that don’t get tired or need lunch breaks. Plus clamping stuff just makes you feel so manly.

I use clamps to attach things like reflectors to light stands, and of course, I use them to stick cameras and flashes to places where I either can’t practically hold them, like on bicycles and other moving vehicles.

I also use them because I was only born with two relatively short arms and can’t hold a camera, a couple of speedlights and a 36″ diffusion panel at the same time. Apparently humans do have limitations. I’m surprised we made it so far in the world.

Anyway, here are the three kinds of clamps that I use in my photography:

1. Manfrotto Super Clamp: The workhorse clamp of the photo industry. Lets you attach just about any kind of camera gear and lighting accessory to doors, stands, poles, signs, trees, bike frames, car bumpers, airplane wing struts, and just about anything else you can think of that fits within the size limit of this wonderful, magical, supercallafragalistic device.

Get one. Get two. Clamp them to each other and see what happens. I promise you, having one of these babies will spark endless creativity for getting different vantage points and lighting options.

2. Manfrotto 175F Justin Clamp with Hot Shoe: If you do off-camera flash and external lighting, you should have at least one of these little guys. Slide a speedlight onto the hot shoe, clamp it somewhere and use the mini ball head to point the head and the TTL sensor wherever you need. Often times it’s even faster to just clamp a flash onto a stand instead of putting it on the little plastic thingie and then screwing it onto the top of the stand. Invaluable little guys.

I used a Justin Clamp on a location shoot yesterday, in fact. Attached Nikon SB-900 flash to the hood of a car and controlled it from the passenger seat while shooting the driver.

Worked out pretty cool, gave me what I wanted without risking the life of an assistant who would otherwise have had to ride on the hood of a moving car. They charge extra for that kind of stuff.

3. Utility Hardware Store Clamps: These things come in all shapes, sizes and colors. You can get them at just about any store  that sells tools, or online- They’re 4 for $7 at Amazon. I recently picked up a few more for .50/ea at a garage sale down the street.

You’ll ALWAYS find a use for these things, even when you’re not doing photography. In fact, the next time you need them for an assignment, you might not be able to find them because you forgot that you used them to clamp that thing in the house that you just glued back into place.

About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.


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    Terry Bourk

    I have read you new book “Behind the Landscape.” I could not “put it down” meaning that I kept at it because each photo you presented/analyzed was interesting and informative. I am trying to develop an eye for composition (both the scene and the light).

    Thank you! The examples you present and the suggestions are very helpful. Purple Mountains, McKinley River and Wonder Lake are fascinating.


    Roger Sinclair

    You have done it again! Another triumph.

    Your generosity to share, the clarity of thought and concise explanation thereof is brilliant. Perhaps I should also mention the beautiful photos and the talent necessary to produce them.

    Thank you, Dan.