PhotoCamel: Your friendly photo community, with free discussion forums, digital photography reviews, photo sharing, galleries, downloads, blogs, photography contests, and prizes.
Photo of the Week Photo of the Week
 

Go Back   PhotoCamel - Your Friendly Photography Forum > The Photographer > Tutorials

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-29-2009   #1
Photocamel Master
 
Benji's Avatar
 
Location: Bluffton, IN
Posts: 5,660
Benji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armor
CamelKarma: 571490
Editing OK?: No
Default A Homemade Overhead Rail System

I don't like light stands with booms on them. Some don't like light stands at all. I don't mind light stands, and in fact I use light stands for all my lights except for my hair light. Most hair lights must be placed onto a boom so it can be positioned above and behind the subject but when you add a light to a boom, and a counterweight to the opposite end it gets wobbly and real scary especially when it is up six or eight feet high.

Early in my career after tripping over the hair light stand, boom and light and nearly knocking it onto a client I began searching for a rail system. Bogan makes a nice one but I prefer to spend my hard earned $2500.00 on other stuff. So I built my own.

The rails I used are Cannonball rails and are available at pole barn manufacturers (my local Ace Hardware also has them.) They are normally used to roll heavy barn doors on. They are available in various lengths from 10 to 20 feet. You will need three trolleys for each cross rail you use. In my setup I used only one cross rail for my hair light, so I needed three trolleys.

I took the three rails (two long, one short) and three trolleys to a welding shop and had them cut the flanges off of the rails because all I needed was the bare round rail. I also had them weld two 3/8ths x 2 inch machine bolts to the center of two of the trolleys and the third trolley has a 1/4 x 20 x 1 inch bolt welded in the center of it. (See image # 5 below.) Also have them weld the trolley solid so it will not rock within its mount anymore.

My ceiling joists are 16 inches OC so I had 1/4 inch holes drilled every 16 inches in the top of the two long rails in order to screw them to the ceiling. I used long drywall screws to attach it to the ceiling. When screwing them to the ceiling they MUST be parallel to one another. Since I have 11 foot ceilings I added some brackets every 16 inches OC to lower the system down about six inches. If your ceiling is lower you can simply screw them directly to the ceiling without the brackets.

After getting them back from the welder, take a rag soaked in paint reducer and wipe all of the oil and dirt off of them, then clean them with 409 or some hot soapy water. Hang them outdoors and soak a rag with white vinegar and wipe them off. Alow to air dry and paint with flat black paint. The white vinegar will etch and neutralize the galvanized coating and permit paint to stick to it, otherwise the paint will peel off after awhile.

You will need at least one other person to help you hang them. Screw one end of one rail to the ceiling but leave the screw loose for now, and measure the other end so both ends are the same distance from the back wall. Mine is about 18 inches out from the wall. Screw that end down and recheck that both are the same distance out from the wall, then screw the entire rail to the ceiling. Place one of the trolleys (one of those with the 3/8ths bolt in the middle) into that rail. Then screw one end of the second rail to the ceiling. The distance between the two upper rails should be about 3 inches shorter than the length of the lower rail. This is because the lower rail will have a 3/8ths hole drilled at each end that needs to be 1 1/2 inches back from each end. The two trolleys with the 3/8ths bolts will fit inside the two rails that are screwed to the ceiling. Make sure the two rails are parallel to one another and screw the opposite end, then attach the middle rail (make sure the third trolley is inside of it first) to the two outer trolleys. Tighten the two nuts at each end and then roll it back and forth. If the rails are not parallel it will be evident real fast. If it rolls easily and will travel all the way across to both ends, screw the rest of the second rail to the ceiling. I strongly suggest double nutting the end trolleys so the nuts can't works loose from the constant rolling. You MUST drill a hole all the way through both walls of the two rails at all four ends and place a bolt across them. This prevents the trolleys from rolling out of the rails!

You will find five images below of my setup.

Benji

__________________
Members don't see ads in threads. Register for your free account today and become a member of PhotoCamel to open up the site's many benefits and features.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Rail1.jpg (125.1 KB, 1696 views)
File Type: jpg Rail2.jpg (118.7 KB, 1636 views)
File Type: jpg Rail3.jpg (116.0 KB, 1633 views)
File Type: jpg Rail4.jpg (117.5 KB, 1625 views)
File Type: jpg Rail5.jpg (115.4 KB, 1640 views)
__________________
In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery. Prov 28:23
Benji is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2009   #2
Photocamel Master
 
Brooks's Avatar
 
Location: Tampa, Florida
Posts: 5,136
Brooks strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBrooks strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBrooks strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBrooks strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBrooks strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBrooks strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBrooks strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBrooks strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBrooks strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBrooks strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBrooks strides over the forum like a knight in shining armor
CamelKarma: 2530074
Default Re: A Homemade Overhead Rail System

That's a nice setup you've made, Benji.

I've had the Calumet rail system in my studio for about 20 years now. If I remember correctly the rails themselves are not that expensive but the pantographs (scisssor lifts) were the pricy bits.

Still, my cost for 2-30' (20ft coupled to a 10ft) fixed rails and 3 20ft floating rails with three pantographs and a few extension pieces to position the lights lower near the ground was about $2500.

Twenty years ago that rail system wasn't that much more money that a large remote control boom with wheeled stand and several light stands. A rail system is so much more convenient than light stands in the studio.

I must confess though that I still also use light stands everyday both in the studio and on location. In the studio Matthew C stands are great because they can be positioned within inches next to each other due to their unique leg and foot design.

For flying a light(s) overhead, a rail system can't be beat.
__________________
"Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul."

Every single camera and all of the lenses that I've ever owned.
Brooks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2009   #3
Photocamel Master
 
Benji's Avatar
 
Location: Bluffton, IN
Posts: 5,660
Benji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorBenji strides over the forum like a knight in shining armor
CamelKarma: 571490
Editing OK?: No
Default Re: A Homemade Overhead Rail System

Brooks,

Thanks.

I forgot to mention the pantographs (Photogenic calls them "light lifts") are available new for about $350.00 or so. I bought mine used on ebay for about $75.00. They don't come up that often though, maybe once or twice a year. Columbus Camera Group also usually has them for about $150.00 or so. In fact the last time I was there they had a complete used rail system for around $1000.00 I believe.

Benji
__________________
In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery. Prov 28:23
Benji is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2009   #4
ESP
Vicuna
 
Location: Hudson Valley NY
Posts: 58
ESP has a spectacular aura aboutESP has a spectacular aura about
CamelKarma: 110
Editing OK?: Ask first
Default Re: A Homemade Overhead Rail System

Goto AMVONA.com. You can get a small rail system of 2 fixed and 2 floating and 3 lifts for under $500. If you want to go bigger you can add to it.

Eli
ESP is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-04-2009   #5
Alpaca
 
m3rdpwr's Avatar
 
Posts: 21
m3rdpwr is on a distinguished road
CamelKarma: 46
Default Re: A Homemade Overhead Rail System

Cool, thanks for sharing.

I don't have room to build one though in my living room...

-Mario
m3rdpwr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-04-2009   #6
Camel Breath
 
Steven G Webb's Avatar
 
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 12,775
Steven G Webb strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorSteven G Webb strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorSteven G Webb strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorSteven G Webb strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorSteven G Webb strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorSteven G Webb strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorSteven G Webb strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorSteven G Webb strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorSteven G Webb strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorSteven G Webb strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorSteven G Webb strides over the forum like a knight in shining armor
CamelKarma: 995704
Editing OK?: Yes
Default Re: A Homemade Overhead Rail System

Nice handy work there Benji. Its always nice to see the wheel- invented. Give me great ideas for future plans. Thank you for sharing.
Steve
__________________
Have you ever stopped to think and forgot to start again?

Facebook

Camel Equine Group

My Equine Album

Fireworks Album

Steven G Webb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-14-2009   #7
PhotoCamel Supporter DONATED
Photocamel Master
 
gaopa2's Avatar
 
Location: Hartwell, GA, USA
Posts: 9,039
gaopa2 strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorgaopa2 strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorgaopa2 strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorgaopa2 strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorgaopa2 strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorgaopa2 strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorgaopa2 strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorgaopa2 strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorgaopa2 strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorgaopa2 strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorgaopa2 strides over the forum like a knight in shining armor
CamelKarma: 1032284
Editing OK?: Yes
Default Re: A Homemade Overhead Rail System

Very nice.... now if I could only get my wife to let me mount things on the ceiling! Cheers, Bill P.
gaopa2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-14-2009   #8
Llama
 
showtm490's Avatar
 
Location: Mid GA
Posts: 597
showtm490 is a glorious beacon of lightshowtm490 is a glorious beacon of lightshowtm490 is a glorious beacon of lightshowtm490 is a glorious beacon of lightshowtm490 is a glorious beacon of lightshowtm490 is a glorious beacon of lightshowtm490 is a glorious beacon of lightshowtm490 is a glorious beacon of lightshowtm490 is a glorious beacon of light
CamelKarma: 1213
Default Re: A Homemade Overhead Rail System

very nice setup.
__________________
Canon 5D with Grip - Canon 85 f1.8 - Canon 70-200L f2.8 IS II - Canon 430EX
http://www.flickr.com/photos/showtm490/
showtm490 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2009   #9
Vicuna
 
mickeyfdr's Avatar
 
Location: alexandria,TN
Posts: 183
mickeyfdr is a glorious beacon of lightmickeyfdr is a glorious beacon of lightmickeyfdr is a glorious beacon of lightmickeyfdr is a glorious beacon of lightmickeyfdr is a glorious beacon of lightmickeyfdr is a glorious beacon of lightmickeyfdr is a glorious beacon of lightmickeyfdr is a glorious beacon of lightmickeyfdr is a glorious beacon of lightmickeyfdr is a glorious beacon of light
CamelKarma: 1347
Editing OK?: Yes
Default Re: A Homemade Overhead Rail System

great idea thanks for sharing
mickeyfdr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-27-2009   #10
Camel Breath
 
JDArt's Avatar
 
Location: Far out
Posts: 23,961
JDArt strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorJDArt strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorJDArt strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorJDArt strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorJDArt strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorJDArt strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorJDArt strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorJDArt strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorJDArt strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorJDArt strides over the forum like a knight in shining armorJDArt strides over the forum like a knight in shining armor
CamelKarma: 2120136
Editing OK?: Yes
Default Re: A Homemade Overhead Rail System

Thanks a lot for sharing this. I hate light stands, too, but they're a necessary evil in many workspaces.


__________________
Members don't see ads in threads. Register for your free account today and become a member of PhotoCamel to open up the site's many benefits and features.
JDArt is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

« PhotoCamel - Your Friendly Photography Forum > The Photographer > Tutorials »


Share this topic:

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Overhead Reflector nldunne Portraits 15 10-13-2008 08:38 PM
Randstad Rail Rense Black & White 17 09-06-2008 01:54 PM
bats overhead terrymcc Camera Phone 4 02-14-2008 08:10 PM
Rail cedric_r Landscape & Travel 5 08-03-2006 02:14 PM
Forth rail bridge cedric_r Landscape & Travel 5 02-14-2006 02:20 PM