Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hold That Flower - A DIY Project

Someone posted a review of the Wimberly Plamp on Nature Photographer's Network's forums today. It is a clamp for holding a plant still when you are shooting a close up and the breeze keeps moving it. It struck me as a good idea but $36 seemed a bit stiff so I set about making my own.

I used AWG 12 electrical wire because it was what I had on hand. 8 or 10 gauge would be stronger and probably better for holding reflectors, gobos or shades. The clamp is one of a dozen I got at Big Lots 2-3 years ago in a package. I think I paid $5 for the dozen. The plant holder end is a wooden spring clothespin. I figured I didn't need as big a clamp on the plant holding end and the wood might be a little more 'friendly' to the plant than metal or plastic. One problem was that when I just taped the wire to the plastic spring clamp the weight of the wire would spin it under the tape so that it always drooped downward. I fixed that by feeding the wire through a hole that was already in the clamp handle (but you could make your own if your clamp didn't already have a hole) and then tightly winding the wire around the handle using pliers to make it snug. As you can see in the photo it now stays where I put it. I'll tape over it but I left the tape off for the photo. Alternatively you could attach the clamps with epoxy putty.

In this case it cost me nothing but time since I had all the parts but if you were to buy them I estimate the cost as follows:
Plastic clamp - about a dollar if you buy them singly, less if you buy a bunch (they're handy for other things too). Wooden clothespin - pennies. You can get a whole package at the Dollar Store. Wire - AWG 12 is between $1 and $2/foot for 2 wire with ground at building suppliers but there are 3 wires in the outer sheath, a black covered wire, a white covered wire and a bare wire so if you bought 2 feet you could make 3 of these. AWG 10 and 8 wire would cost more than 12 (like f/stops, smaller number = fatter wire and copper is expensive right now). The tape is black cloth tape similar to duct tape. I chose cloth because it doesn't stretch. It won't make Wimberly happy but I have my holder and my $36 (plus shipping + tax).

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