Sunday, January 4, 2015

My DIY Versions of the SaberStrip Photo Light Modifier

Nikon D90, Nikon 18-300mm lens at 18mm, f/4, 1/30sec, ISO 200

I had a desire to buy or make some strip lights to use my old Nikon SB-28 flashes in and make better photos of my guitars, and the guitars of my friends who often have me work on their guitars for them. (One friend has a room full of Gibson Custom Shop guitars he has me adjust and work on for him. I can't give them back without taking photos and playing them a bit.)

First of all, if I had the money, I'd have bought two real SaberStrip light modifiers.  They look to be pretty amazing, and would be perfect for photographing guitars.

But, being on a fixed income (disability, ruined back), I wanted a cheaper alternative to the $135/each that a SaberStrip costs.

I am not much of a do it yourself person, but when things REALLY interest me, I can be quite handy.  (Like learning to do guitar adjustments and some types of guitar repair.)

I first searched the interwebs to see what kind of DIY versions of this device would be out there, and I was not disappointed, and quickly made a list of things to buy and also sketched some modifications to "improve" the homemade strip light for my personal use.

Hats off to Mr. Andrew Birklid, whose own DIY "Saver Strip" was the design I followed closely in making my own.

If you visit his site and instruction, you'll see that, compared to my photo of mine above, I cut holes near the bottom of the tubes to allow me to place and remove the flashes as needed, but more importantly, to reach in there and make setting changes to the flashes while in use.  The real SaberStrip requires that you take the bottom of the tube off and make changes and put the thing back together again before more shooting.

My version allows on-the-fly flash setting changes, which works great in reality.  In the end, for about $120, less than the price of one real SaberStrip, I made two, bought two heavy duty light stands, and two adapters for mounting the strips on the light stands, PLUS a new large photo tent.  That's the kind of financial efficiency I can live with!

Here's a photo of my finished DIY light strips in action on my Les Paul Studio guitar.

Sweet!  And they work wonderfully.
Nikon D90, Nikon 18-300mm lens at 34mm, f/13, 1/30sec, ISO 200