What would MacGyver do? How to create a boom stand.

MacGyver, was one of my favourite TV series from the 80s about a secret agent with a beautiful mullet who managed to come up with ingenious ways to build really complicated devices using chewing gum, paper clips, pens and a Swiss army knife.

(verb) : To improvise a creative solution to seemingly impossible situation by using everyday found objects, faith, spit, gaffer tape and a bit of luck.

I love to Macgyver. I do it often. Half my home has been MacGyvered together but the place I love to MacGyver the most is when I’m on a photo shoot. I love being able to come up with creative ways to MacGyver lights together or new ways to make things using found objects. I think this is the reason I love working in television and film so much. The crews I work with are masters of MacGyver. I’ve seen them pull off the seemingly impossible just by using a bit of gaffer tape, some spit and love.

I recently found myself caught short of gear on a location shoot 30km from my studio. The particular item I was missing was a boom stand for one of my lights that was crucial to the lighting setup I wanted to use on the day. Instead of wasting the two hours needed to drive back and get it, I did what I always do when I’m in a tight spot. I MacGyvered myself a new boom.

Macgyver_boom_014Here’s my 3 light set. From a distance my boom looks just like a regular one right?

The gig was a promotional shoot for Italian racecar driver Glauco Junior Solleri.

The boom was essential to the shoot because I wanted to light Glauco’s face from above using my Rotolux deep Octa box and could not use a regular light stand because it would have been visible in the shot.

The shoot was taking place in a large race car workshop and I managed to find everything I needed to MacGyver my boom. I must say I was pretty happy with the result.

Macgyver_boom_004Chains are a great alternative to sandbags because they are flexible and heavy!

Step 1.

The first thing I needed to find was a way to weigh down my lightstand so they wouldn’t fall over onto the very expensive racecar. I usually keep sandbags in my car along with every piece of studio lighting I own and a coffee machine (just in case) and several pairs of shoes (just in case). On this particular occasion I’d left sandbags with the boom (DOH!).
After a quick search around the workshop I found some chains and some material to Macgyver my sexy new sandbags.

Macgyver_boom_005Detail of my MacGyver boom with hand weights as counterbalance.

Step 2.

I joined two light stands together using a superclamp to create my MacGyver boom. I used some old hand weights I found in the car as a counter weight for my light. The chains would have been too heavy in this instance.

Macgyver_boom_006Hand weights worked perfectly as counterweights.

Macgyver_boom_020The whole setup in action.

Glauco_promo15And here is the final shot of Glauco Junior Solleri.

1 Response
  1. This is awesome Gina, a real clever way to make a light stand! If available, can you do a tutorial to show how you create the final image in Photoshop?

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About Gina

About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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