Nifty Lighting Trick: Invisible Light Stand

Strobist reader Patrick Smith, a college student who shoots for The Towerlight at Towson University, had a devil of a time hiding all of his light stand in the background while shooting a football feature for the paper.

His solution was just the kind of trick we like: Cheap, something you could not do with big strobes, and cheap.

And no, it wasn't Photoshop, ya lighting wuss. Take a guess, then read about how he did it after the jump.

Says Patrick, on his photo shoot of four Towson linemen and their "hitsticks":

"... Who ever thought lighting four football players dramatically would be hard? Getting them all evenly lit is tough, and all I have to say is gaffers tape is smarter than a 22-year-old.

I struggled to hide light stands in the background before I just taped an SB to the wall to get a desired effect. I also must thank my buddy, assistant and the one who will replace my shoes, Kris. I think I showed him how bossy I can be when low on sleep and stressed out. Hopefully he learned a think or two from my mistakes. ..."

Yeah, like how to spell "thing," for instance.

And while we're at it, "the one who will replace my shoes?" What's up with that? Are they messed up? You made a nice photo. Now get some sleep, bud.

(You'd never catch me making typos and brain farts like that when working on no sleep.)

What? What?

Okay, maybe once or twice.

More, at Patrick's Blog
See Patrick's precarious tape job here. (Thanks, Kris!)
And, most important: "Arrrrrrrr!"

Any other Strobist readers rocking their college papers like this? Hit us with some URL's in the comments.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

And here was me thinking he had used necessity for design and had purposely put the one bat up out of frame to hold the strobe - although, thinking about it a bit more, getting it off center (for the right shadows) would have been as much a pain as trying to photoshop the lightstand out.

September 19, 2007 12:28 AM  
Blogger bmillios said...

Praise him, slap him. Repeat.

September 19, 2007 12:31 AM  
Anonymous Andrew Smith said...

Lack of sleep? Let me tell you about lack of sleep. I had a 3-hour driving lesson on Monday at 8am after less than 2 hours of BAD sleep. Try doing something that you think you're getting good at when you're so tired that you couldn't even do something that you actually are good at. I came away from that lesson ASHAMED of how badly I'd driven.

Off to bed now at 5:30am. Not even setting my alarm clock :-)

September 19, 2007 12:37 AM  
Blogger David said...

... But you checked into Strobist first, before collapsing into bed. I think we can all learn a lesson about life's little priorities here.

Thanks for the post on Meejahor. Will point to it very shortly.


September 19, 2007 12:39 AM  
Blogger Jacob said...

How is it that we're all decidedly lacking on sleep here. I've been telling myself to go to bed for hours.

Whoever posted about the baseball bat mount, I thought the same "think" (couldn't help myself) until I looked at the light a bit closer and realized it couldn't have come from up there. But that didn't stop me posting on the photo thread indicating that it would've been one cool as hell idea. Not quite sure where it would've got you, but dammit, it would've been cool.

September 19, 2007 12:42 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

The infamous "Invisible Light Stand":

Pat's shoes are very nice and I would never stoop so low (heh...) as to replace them.

Though maybe when he graduates I'll take his job.

September 19, 2007 1:24 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Ha ha, brain farts are second nature to me, lol, gaffer tape is certainly a handy piece of kit. Love the pic it really shows how much thought and effort he has put into it and pays off big time.

September 19, 2007 3:29 AM  
Blogger Quoc-Huy said...

No typos for David? Let me doubt! I think I could fill a post hahaha.

September 19, 2007 4:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just went to his website to see if I could get some camera info by dragging his image and opening it in PS. 800 some odd pixels wide at 300 dpi. Would make a nice little print for somebody. Also NO © INFO. Try setting up a test to see if your readers can tell the difference between 300, 144 and 72 dpi at around 500 pixels wide. Is any body a member of EP? I don't know what Patrick's agreement is with his employer, IE:WMFH, or an embargo situation with his work, but I see serious beverage money to be made on reprints. Why just give them away, especially at 300DPI? META DATA,META DATA. OPTION G, OPTION G

September 19, 2007 7:30 AM  
Blogger Jason Chaney said...

As someone that goes through half a dozen rolls of the stuff a week, I'm astounded that that much gaff tape held the flash up long enough for him to get the shot. :)

September 19, 2007 10:27 AM  
Blogger David said...


Yeah -- me, too. I tend to use a little more. I do it in a big "H" fashion. We did a segment on it in the DVDs when we were showing how to light basketball.


September 19, 2007 11:15 AM  
Blogger Daniel Cormier said...


September 19, 2007 11:20 AM  
Blogger David said...


Actually, we do those on the short posts to signify that there is nothing more in the post after the jump. BUt I suppose I could do it on all posts, as a convention, because you would not see it on the firt/jump section anyway...


September 19, 2007 11:35 AM  
Anonymous Brock said...

People in glass houses and all that...

Twenty-three words into this post and there's a big fat typo, David.

If you say "all" you gotta follow it with the plural form of the noun, as in: "...all of is light stand..."

Should be stands... I'm just saying.

September 19, 2007 12:36 PM  
Blogger David said...

Brock -

Actually, that part might be (atypically) correct. He could hide part of his light stand, but not all of it.

FWIW, I only ragged on him because I am a walking typo machine...


September 19, 2007 12:39 PM  
Blogger MortonPhotographic said...

I love gafeRRRRRRR's tape!

September 19, 2007 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Angus said...

To the anonymous poster claiming that the photos are being "given away":

International copyright law (i.e. that in all signatory countries to the Berne convention) means that no claim of copyright need be made for the work to be protected. All works of intellectual property (I forget the proper wording) are protected once they are recorded in some form (i.e. mentioning an 'idea' to a friend who then acts upon it is not a recorded form, but writing it down is). This used to be true, but no longer is (so if a work was created before a certain date -- 1989 in the US -- then this protection isn't necessarily afforded). Adding a notice will strengthen your prosecution if you end up in court, but isn't necessary.

To download the photos and print them off without licence would be illegal (although, since not everyone necessarily takes quite the ethical or legal view of this, it may still be prudent to cover one's back).

September 19, 2007 1:07 PM  
Anonymous triebs2 said...

This post reminds me to mention that I want DH to go back to work. That is, I miss the "On Assignment" posts. DH - any chance you can post some "On Assignment" articles about photos you took in the past?

September 19, 2007 1:33 PM  
Blogger David said...


I hear ya, man.

Actually, I have been shooting my butt off, but for the DVDs as opposed to the blog. I am almost out of the woods on that -- we have one more segment to shoot, and some post production to do -- but I have several projects lined up that will be going to the site.

We also have about a half-dozen of the reader features coming up, the diversity of which makes them far more interesting than seeing my bag of tricks.


September 19, 2007 1:46 PM  
Anonymous KY said...

TWO.... I say AGAIN.... TWO mentions of DVD's?

DAVE, tell us when they're coming!

The suspense is KILLING me!!!

September 19, 2007 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Brock said...

I know you were just jiving with him, David; I just couldn't help myself. :)

September 20, 2007 12:26 AM  
Anonymous Brock said...

Sheesh... I just went back and read that "typo" I mentioned and, well... (hanging head), you're right David. Taken in context, the sentence is correct.

My bad.

September 20, 2007 12:29 AM  
Anonymous Jarra said...

Awwww man! I totally thought his flash was going to end up having being attached to the tip of that fella's bat!

Great stuff :D

September 20, 2007 6:27 AM  
Blogger rdc said...

to Jason who is complaining about the lack of his gaff's sticking power.....sounds like you're using cheap gaff tape. Cheap gaff tape is like using big heavy black masking tape. Pro Gaff brand or nothing in my experience, and rub it until it gets a little warm after sticking it to a surface.

September 20, 2007 6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought it was on the bat too, though with some more gadgetry since it had to be behind them. Why are football players holding baseball bats?

September 20, 2007 8:54 PM  
Anonymous HappyGobo said...

How could the flash be on the bat? The light isn't coming from there. Me, I thought he rigged it on a stick off the back of Du-Rag's chestplate. But then I shoot video, so I wouldn't think to tape a light to the wall because most constant lighting sources that are worth anything are too heavy for tape...I guess some things are easier with still photography.

September 21, 2007 2:17 AM  

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