Jan Christian


DIY SLA Battery Pack for Speedlites

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When you don’t mind packing some extra weight and bulk, sealed lead acid (SLA) battery packs are great. They last forever and recycle the flash very quickly (like fresh AAs). Just be careful when shooting at full power that you don’t melt your flash head! I also like that SLA batteries are supposed to be charging when not in use. This means they’re always ready to shoot when you are.

Making one is pretty simple if you can drill and solder. See for yourself!
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DIY DC jack in 580ex Speedlite for external battery pack

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I wanted to make an external battery pack but I didn’t want to use “dummy batteries” to connect it to the flash, I wanted a jack. Whenever I modify/make something I try to make it look as though it came like that from the factory, or could have. That was my goal for this, a clean install. I chose to mount the jack in place of the “bracket fitting,” which is next to the “external power source socket”. I don’t use flash brackets so I didn’t mind ditching the fitting. As far as I knew, no one had ever done this before so I had no idea if it would even fit, but I was confident I could make it fit. So I just started drilling…
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DIY Dual Speedlite Bracket for Amvona Softbox

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As promised, here is the dual speedlite bracketry for the Amvona softbox. The single speedlite version was more than adequate for most situations but I wanted something that could easily overpower the sun behind a model. Read the rest of this entry »

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Quick, easy and cheap “business cards” — using film

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I haven’t designed a real “business card” yet but I wanted something I could hand out in the meantime to those who ask about my work (I know, I know, my gallery still isn’t up…). All I know is that when I finally design one it’s going to incorporate spot glossing/UV, which isn’t exactly cheap considering 500 is the minimum order quantity, so I don’t want to rush it. For now, this’ll do.
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Tacticool strobist bag

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I’d like to introduce to you the tacticool strobist bag. I was in the market for a bag for my new Gitzo 1541T tripod but wasn’t happy with anything I found. Most were too bulky and/or long, which defeated the purpose of having travel-sized gear. Speedlites are my strobe of choice for their portability and convenience so in that vein I also use Manfrotto 001B Nano light stands (19″ when collapsed), and double-fold umbrellas. Luckily, I found a bag that fits everything! You can find it at County Comm (I love this place).

Meet the Maratac Extreme SAT-COM bag.

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DIY velcro speed strap for speedlites

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I’d like to start by giving credit to Honl Photo for the design idea. I had the supplies already so I wanted to see what I could come up with.

For those of you who don’t want sticky-backed velcro on your flash, this is the perfect solution. It’s quite simple to make and only takes a few minutes if you have a sewing machine. Read the rest of this entry »

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How to modify an Amvona softbox for use with speedlites

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I was in the market for a softbox and came across a great deal on an Amvona Dynaphos softbox that I couldn’t pass up. The softbox came with a speedring, which was just a flat, circular sheet of metal with a pattern cut out of the middle that allowed Amvona hot-lights to be removed with a quarter turn. Luckily, it was easy to remove and replace with whatever I wanted. I could’ve modified that metal speedring that came with it but it was pretty beefy and would’ve taken longer to cut. To make life easier, I opted for a piece of 3.2mm styrene (plastic) that I got at a local hobby store (it was with the model train accessories). The actual material isn’t important, you could use styrene, ABS, plexiglass, wood, and so on, as long as its fairly thin and sturdy.

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How to make a $2 softbox in 5 minutes

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I had a shoot to do but my “real” softbox hadn’t arrived yet so I had to improvise. I had everything at my house except for the diffusion material, which was only $2 at a local fabric store. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Large cardboard box. A cube will work best but use what you have.
  • Aluminum foil
  • Spray adhesive and a little duct tape
  • Diffusion material. I used white nylon that I found with the wedding gown fabrics at Jo-Ann Fabrics

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It Begins!

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My photo gallery isn’t up yet but I can’t wait at least want to start adding some worthwhile content to the blog. Most of the posts will detail DIY projects but I may add some reviews, lighting diagrams or whatever other tidbits on photography that I think may be of interest to the masses. Feel free to comment, ask questions or make requests. Enjoy!
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