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Lighting On A Budget – Pt. 2

My 6-light CFL fixture worked well in the studio, but I wanted more light and the option to add a light modifier.  I decided to move up to 3” PVC and install eight lamp sockets around the outside of the pipe.

We’re going to call this fixture a SPIDER, you’ll see why in just a moment.

Here is my original collection of parts.

A 3” clean-out plug serves as a hub for the sockets.  My original idea was to attach the clean out plug to a 3” bushing that would be attached to the front of the 2” tee fitting.  The power cord would run out the back of the tee and the light stand would attach to the base of the tee.

I measured and marked the clean-out plug and drilled it with a 5/16” bit.  I made a simple jig from scrap wood to hold the fitting in place.

Using a 2” lamp nipple and a pair of channel locks, I carefully cut the threads for the shorter nipples.  This is where the working characteristics of PVC came into play.  You can cut threads into PVC with a bolt and a little patience, instead of using a tap and die.  I chased the threads all the way through the side of the fitting.

Here is the clean-out plug with all of the lamp nipples fitted.  I chose a clean-out plug as opposed to a regular cap so that I could access the wires more easily.

Each socket was wired and the wires passed through the hole of the mounting bracket.  The design of the bracket and the lamp nipples allowed me to keep all of the wires hidden.

Above is the front of the SPIDER WITH the wiring in place.

Above is the back of the SPIDER with the wiring in place. The sockets were wired in pairs, then the pairs were wired together.  I used wire connectors instead of soldering so that a socket could easily be replaced if it failed.

LOOK; it works! 

At this point I realized that my original design was way too front-heavy.  I needed to move the center of gravity farther back.  So, I’m off to Home Depot yet again.

I found a 3”-3”-2” tee fitting that solved my problem of balance nicely.  I added a 3” to 2” reducer to the back of the tee fitting and a 2” to1.25” threaded reducer to that.  A 4” circle of plywood and a 1.25” male fitting is attached to the reducer and this holds the speedring to my Paul C Buff OCTOBOX™ firmly in place.  A 2” to .75” threaded reducer is mounted at the bottom of the tee for the light stand fitting.

Here’s the light inside the OCTOBOX™.  It throws a very even lighting pattern, even without the diffusion panel.  It’s well balanced and easy to handle in the studio.  I’m working on an improved version for my still photography.  Stay tuned…

Kirk Draut
Director of Design
Aarthun Performance Group, Ltd.


Featured Workflow

White Imac vs. CS4: Its A (re)Draw

My assistant cringes whenever he hears the word "known issue."  In this case, it was Adobe CS4.

Our Macintosh labs contain Intel iMacs.  When the conversion came from PPC to Intel, we bought a test group of the original released version. We refer to this group at work as the "white iMacs."  Later, when we purchased Intel Macs for the rest of the labs they had already moved on to the more familiar black and silver versions.  Enter CS4.  Adobe released the product, and I was given the assignment to remove CS3 on the lab computers and replace it with CS4.  That, in itself, is a long rant against my constant struggle with the Adobe installer.  In short, it got done.  However CS4 had a major problem in the lab where the white iMacs were deployed.  In Photoshop, certain tools like the crop or the pen would disappear when used.  The screen around the window would also make green/pink/red noise areas which would change or get worse when the window was modified.

My first hunch was correct, that the video card couldn’t redraw the screen.  How I dealt with this was  analyzing RAM usage, and reinstalling the system software from our college image.  This didn’t work, which led me to a panic thinking that our software image (which is a generic Leopard software build developed with specific college tools installed) didn’t contain the correct video drivers for the white iMacs.  They have an NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT, while our modern black/silvers are an ATI Radeon HD2600.  Software update should have taken care of the driver issue, but my internal devil’s advocate left often the suspicion that this may need to be tackled directly.

After lunch (and a fresher perspective as a result of nutrients entering my system,) I hit the Adobe knowledgebase and found the issue.  It was indeed a screen redraw problem, and I was further correct in that it specifically involved the videocard.  Here is why: CS4 uses the GPU of the videocard itself for screen redraw instead of the machine’s CPU.  The NVIDIA card could not handle this change. Owners of white iMacs or machines with non-compatible graphics cards beware.

Details and troubleshooting here: