Against the Wind: Keep Your Light Upright

Umbrellas, light-weight stands and even a modest breeze can be a bad combo.

But just because it is windy out does not mean you have to stay in. Three tips to keep your light stands standing, inside.
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The classic method is of course sand bags. They are not terribly expensive, and you can also make them [DIY shot bags tute] if you are handy with a decent sewing machine.

But there are other ways to keep your lights from taking a tumble.


The Happy Camper

Probably the cheapest way (and easiest to transport) is to treat your light stand like a tent. Three sturdy cords and some clothes hanger wire cut into "J-shaped" stakes will hold your umbrella firm in winds strong enough to turn it inside out.

Tip: Loop the cords around the stand well above the ground for more stability.

Advantages: Costs almost nothing, adds almost no weight to your gear pack.

Disadvantages: Once staked, your light stand is not easily moved. Try moving the subject instead. And you'll need to be on ground that you can push a wire stake into -- sidewalks need not apply.


Excess Baggage

If you are already carrying lots of extra weight, you can put it to use stabilizing your stands. I often use a ball bungee to attach my main gear bag to my stand. The more weight, the better.

Tip: Position the bag so it actually hangs from the stand, dangling at a low height off of the ground. You want this vertical force pulling down on your stand. Otherwise, you'll just need enough wind to tip your stand/bag combo over. The leverage works better for you if the weight is actually hanging.

Advantages: Cost is minimal because you already bought the hanging gear. And you already lugged it to the location.

Disadvantages: You may not have enough excess weight to stabilize your stands.


Weight For It…

This is my go-to method, and I find it to be a rock-solid solution. I use a small rope to suspend iron plates (as in weightlifting plates) from my stands, very close to the ground.

The hole makes them easy to attach with a short rope, on which there is a loop at each end. I put the rope through the weights, wrap it around the stand and "slip knot" one end through the other. Then I wrap the excess from the leading end around the stand and loop it on a section bolt. Holds great without stressing the stand.

Tip: Again, get the weights off of the ground for better stability. Lower is better, too.

Advantages: Damn-near foolproof -- just bring as much as you need. In the photo above I have 30 lbs stabilizing a large stand, boom and 60" Softlighter. It wasn't going anywhere.

Disadvantages: Like a shot bag, you have to carry the weight with you. Or you can risk it by carrying a short rope and hoping you can scrounge some weight on location that can be tied to your stand.


The VASB

Similar to the Voice-Activated Light Stand, the Voice-Activated Sand Bag is frequently found on location if you know where to look. They are disguised as reporters, assistants and even random bystanders.

A VASB standing next to your stand keeping a hand on it is a great way to get some stability in a pinch.
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How do you keep your stands sunny side up? Are you using ways that were not listed above? Hit us with a tip (the good kind, not the falling light stand kind) in the comments.

(Amazingly appropriate light-blowing-over photo by ole.e.)


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