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Lighting 101 - Light Stands

So the idea is, you want the capability to light without breaking the bank—or your back. And as you'll soon see, your new portable studio is easier to cart around than even a pricey ultralight tripod.

Above is a (7.5-foot) LP605, which I consider to be the best compact light stand made today and which you probably by now already have on the way as a part of your starter lighting kit. Compact light stands like the LP605 generally have five sections (so they fold up very small—21 inches or so) and are ideally suited for photographers using lightweight, speedlight-based lighting gear.

The LP605 uniquely comes with folding spikes for extra stability when you are outside in the wind. Folded up, they will ride in a small roller case. Or you can add some O-rings and a strap, as detailed below, and throw a whole "portable studio kit" over your shoulder.

I love hacking or modding my gear to make it better, and this little trick is one of my favorites. Throw this strapped stand over your shoulder (with a compact umbrella attached, as you'll soon see) and it it'll ride just as comfortably as a camera. Seriously, you can hike five miles with this setup and bang out a kick-ass lit portrait when you reach your remote destination.

If and when you get further into lighting, you'll likely end up adding to your stand collection. Maybe some bigger stands, or a boom arm to float a light out over someone. But you cannot go wrong with a compact, 5-section stand for openers. This is the one you want to start with. I have a boatload of photo support gear and these things still get used more than any other.

To drill them, pivot one of the spikes (if your stand has them) out and drill a ¼ hole at each end of one of the legs. Then stick in some decent sized O-rings (this will take a little prying) and strap it up. If you carry it upside down, the natural forces will keep it closed nicely.

This piece of gear is not complicated. Essentially, a light stand exists only to do one thing: oppose gravity. It holds your light at a place in three-dimensional space. Pretty simple stuff.

For portability, solidity, price (and 5-year warranty) the $40 LP605 is tough to beat.

NEXT: Umbrella/Stand Adapters


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