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.

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.


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.

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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