Mounting a flash unit on the camera is an effective first step to overcome the limitations of the built-in flash. However a whole new world opens up when you take the flash off the camera and arrange it creatively for much better flash photography lighting.
The natural question is how to support the off-camera flash. You can try to handhold it. It may work for some occasions but not suitable for long shooting sessions or without an assistant. Most flash units come with a small stand such as the AS-19 for Nikon Speedlights that you can use to place the flash on a flat surface. You can get lightstand and mount the flash on top it. Depending on the specific shooting situation, not all of the above may be the best solution. Using a clamp to attach the flash unit to structures within the shooting environment is a great way of supplementing the other methods.
Typically the flash unit is attached to the clamp using a flash shoe adapter. Sometimes an additional connection mechanism with swirl and tilt functionality is used so you can aim the flash to the desired direction. The whole assembly is then clamp onto shelf, door, pipe, or any other structures that you can securely attach it to.
The clamps are not very expensive but you can make them yourself for even less money. With global economy in such a bad shape, I am sure many of you would like that. The following is an example made by Pete Collins (aka uniball).
The clamps are from Lowes home improvement store for $12.98 (4-pack). You also need some 1/4″ bolts and nuts. The black funky looking item looks like the Adorama Universal Swivel Holder #4117, which looks very similar to the Photoflex Shoe Mount Multiclamp I have. The only difference seems to be the shape of two knobs.
If you use umbrellas, you should already know these are for mounting umbrella on to a lightstand. The mid-section can bend 180 degrees and the flash shoe can rotate to any direction within 360 degree circle, which gives you good flexibility when pointing the flash head. It is about 5″ long and a little bulky. If you want something smaller, this Flash Bounce Shoe Adapter or this Mini Ball Head may also work based on the descriptions (untested, additional parts may be needed).
At the end, the cost of Pete’s poor man’s super clamp is estimated to be about $22 each. My challenge to you is: can you find a pre-made clamp with similar functionality for less than 2x the cost of this DIY.
Keywords: Accessories, Clamp, DIY, Do-it-yourself, Flash photography, Hacks, Off-camera, Super Clamp