One series that particularly interested me was about his lighting cage, which is basically a cube of rigid plastic pipe to which one can attach lots of other stuff using small clamps and articulating arms.
The clamps were of a design and brand that I had not known about. They looked pretty spiffy, and Allan's manipulations of them were convincing, so I bought a sample and tried them out. They far exceeded my expectations, so I bought a bunch more of them and built a cage to fit around my existing high-mag platform.
Cutting to the chase, here is what I'm now using:
The above setup is pretty much as it was for my recent knotted-hair post, except that I've removed the camera and focus block and swapped in a gray background panel for clarity.
Here is a closer shot that shows all the key bits.
The cage itself is made of Schedule 40 PVC pipe, nominal 1/2" inside, actual 0.85" outside, fastened together with standard PVC elbows. I've painted it black for esthetics, using an extraordinarily tough paint.
The clamps are CAMVATE brand "Super Clamp". They have a lot of mounting holes, mostly 1/4" x 20tpi, and they have plastic-lined jaws that hold really well on the pipe.
Into each clamp I screw typically a CAMVATE 11" Magic Arm, to which I've added a clamping cold shoe.
Then into the cold shoe I clamp either a flash unit or a DIY adapter that consists of a piece of 3/4" x 1/16" flat aluminum, epoxied to a 1/4" bolt, with a nylon wingnut added for locking. The adapter, in turn, lets me easily attach other things that have a 1/4" thread, either naturally like that small camera, or added like those Jansjö LED heads with the nuts and wire lashing epoxied to them, or the hemispherical diffuser with a 1/4" nut glued to it.
The picture also shows a couple of flexible arms, to which I've epoxied 1/4" bolts so they screw directly into the clamps. Those are held rigidly in place with locking thumbnuts.
The Jansjö lamps used to be the desktop model, with the heavy weighted base. I've replaced the base with yet another 1/4" bolt, which is screwed loosely into a clamp to keep it in place while also allowing it to rotate freely as needed to align the cold-shoe adapter. (Sadly, Jansjö lamps are no longer available. I bought these several years ago.)
Following is a closer view of some of the adapters:
And a closer view of a modified Jansjö (shot by the camera shown in the second image):
One last detail, which I overlooked initially, are these 1/2" spacers that hold the bottom pipes above the large plywood base. The extra space gives a lot more options for placing the clamps. In Allan'sYouTube videos, space is provided by the elegant plastic conduit clamps that he used. I could not get that style of clamps, so I used simple metal straps instead, only to discover in use that the extra space really does matter!
Providing some links for future reference...
- Allan Walls Photography, YouTube channel -- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3N1Bv ... 3SSthhzReA
- videos specifically about the cage:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhHSUc3PoH8 The DIY Macro Photography Light Cage - Part 1 - Making It
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jUC1eJduDc Macro Lighting Cage II - let there be light
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKLSS4uX4_Y The Macro Lighting Cage - Part 3 - Continuous Lighting
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rU1bLj3Rb_E The Macro Lighting - Part 4 - Speed-Lighting
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FW6Z9P5m42I Macro Cage Adaptations - for high magnification focus stacking
- CAMVATE Super Clamp with screw converter -- https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XWTL7LC
- CAMVATE Super Clamp with ballhead (bundle) -- https://www.amazon.com/CAMVATE-Super-Cl ... B01N20RT82
- CAMVATE 11 inch Adjustable Articulating Friction Magic Arm -- https://www.amazon.com/CAMVATE-Articula ... B06XRHN5HX
- gooseneck arms with alligator clips (non-magnetic bases) -- https://www.amazon.com/Gooseneck-Alliga ... XH3JT?th=1
- clamping cold shoe adapters: https://www.ebay.com/itm/154864355072
- Rust-Oleum "Universal Advanced Formula paint & primer in one" (245198 flat black) -- https://www.amazon.com/Rust-Oleum-24519 ... B0016HLAGE
1) If you buy any of these, be sure to check the orientation of the thin black locking thumbnuts. The big flat side comes with a rubber coating, and in all my units that coating was oriented to face the end of the screw. The rubber coating may seem like an aid to holding things together, but it's not. What happens in that orientation is that the rubber prevents properly tightening the nut, so that the nut and whatever it engages end up rotating together on the screw. Simply flipping the nut over, so the contact is metal against metal, with the rubber touching nothing at all, allows the nut to tighten properly so everything stays locked in position.
2) I also have a set of Noga arms in several sizes, like the ones described HERE. Compared to the Noga's, magnetically clamped to a steel base, this plastic cage with CAMVATE clamps and arms is much less rigid. However, the cage and clamps is rigid enough, and it gives a lot more options for fastening things, and the CAMVATE stuff is so cheap that everything you see in this post is about the price of one large Noga arm. I have shot only a few setups with this new equipment, but at the moment I'm liking it a lot. I'll let you know if that changes.
3) Allan's videos suggest to not paint the pipe, noting that paint flakes off and the natural white color does not present any functional issues. As mentioned, I did paint the pipe, for reasons of personal esthetics -- this thing will be kept out all the time and I have lots of painful associations with white PVC pipe due to working on underground sprinkler systems. So, I read the paint labels carefully and tested on samples before painting the real cage. This particular paint seems to play very nicely with PVC. Even isolated droplets cannot be dislodged, and actively scraping through a solid paint layer leaves a clean margin that has no tendency to peel or chip. The stuff is not very resistant to solvents, however, so for example I will not be wiping it down with ethyl alcohol.
4) For size, I tweaked Allan's suggestion to fit my space better. He suggests a 20" cube; I shrank it down to 16x18x20, same height but 4" narrower.