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| p.1 #12 · light stand without three legs? |
Back in the early 70s when I learned to shoot weddings by assisting Monte Zucker as second shooter we used a medical IV stand with a heavy cast iron base and four legs compact legs to move our off camera flash around. It was what made shooting single-handedly with manual dual flash logistically feasible with these Graflex strobes that had a big heavy external power pack...
We set ratio and exposure via distance, so if taking a shot from 8ft the slave would be wheeled in to about 6ft with the fill at 8ft over the camera on a bracket. If moving out to 11ft for a wider shot I'd grab the stand with your free hand and wheel it out to 8ft. That kept the ratio the same as before (key +1 stop over fill for 3:1 ratio on face) and opening the lens an f/stop kept the exposure the same as before. It might sound a bit complicated but in practice it was quite simple and produced very consistent results with equipment that was very primitive compared to today. I still shoot that way in M mode with my Canon 580ex speedlights when I want consistent frame-to-frame exposure for portraits and other static situations.
A few years ago I found this folding five legged IV stand for $5 at thrift store.
You can see it in this set-up shot...
Made by Sharps it's called "Pitch It Sr." because it's designed to thrown away after use. It is constructed out of aluminum so it is light, and the top tube happens to be 5/8" making it easy to slide an umbrella bracket over the top. There's a U shaped plastic hook on top for the IV bag that I had to cut off and file down.
Thanks to having 5 vs. 4 or 3 legs it is virtually tip-proof and stable with short legs. There's still a tripping hazard with the legs, but most will see the stand and avoid it and if they back into it at a party it just rolls way rather than tipping over. I've never had mine tip over.
Because it's not designed as a light stand it has drawbacks. While light in weight it doesn't fold very compactly as the photo above shows. Fully extended with my flash and diffuser attached it puts the center of the diffuser 7' off the floor. That works OK for the run and gun PJ style shooting I use it for, but that's too low for other situations. I have other 8' and 12' stand available for those.
It's unconventional and one of those things you probably will not really appreciate until you try it and see how effortless it is to glide the light around a crowded room with one hand. The Cheetah stand might appear similar in its mobility but the difference logistically is needing to lift it off the floor and balance it while moving it. It also only has 3 vs 5 legs.
I just did a quick search and found several used ones for sale on craigslist, eBay and Goodwill. They are available new from medical supply houses but are usually sold in case lots of six. But here's a place that sells them individually:
and a similar 5 leg folding design.