The 75¢ Sandbag

Nobody likes broken umbrellas except for umbrella repairmen, right? Who’s with me? So, how do you stop your umbrella-ed light stand from pulling a Mary Poppins in even the slightest of breezes? That’s right – a spoon full of sugar helps weigh her down. I’m talking sandbags.

Without exception, my all time favorite sandbag (yes, I have a favorite sandbag – get off my back, pops!) isn’t actually a sandbag, but rather a steel shot bag, the Matthews Boa Bag. Saaaweeet. Saaaa-expensive. $30-$55 plus shipping depending on which size you spring for. So maybe you don’t have to look like a pro and/or don’t want to spend the dough. What’s the next best thing?

For my money it would be a 75¢ sandbag that comes complete with a Velcro-like strap for holding it to your light stand. Sounds good, donut? So where do we find this mythical creature? Head on down to the Bric-A-Brac isle at your nearest thrift shop. In my totally scientific study of four local thrift shops three of them had what we’re looking for: the tossed aside would-be hero to the less-than-in-shape… the lowly ankle weight. Yes, I said “ankle weight!”

I got this mustard beauty for just 75¢.

These bags of fun are the perfect match to your umbrella setup. But don’t get cocky, though a pair of 5lb.-ers will fight off a stiff breeze, a gust will land your brolly in the emergency room faster than Evil Knievel on a banana rocket. Test it out yourself. I’m not replacing a bunch of peoples broken umbrellas – or worse, flashes because somebody thought a five pound thrift shop ankle weight would stand up to a category 5 twister.

One of the nice things about the ankles weights is you can transport them… on your ankles! It’s true. Who would have guessed? Strap ‘em down, kids. They don’t seem to weigh as much on your ankles as they do in a bag flung over your shoulder. Besides, they are soooo high fashion. You’ll look cooler than Evil Knievel on a banana rocket.

There are a few kinds of ankle weights out there. I like the kind that move around when you bend them instead of the ones made up of bars, but take your pick. If you are getting them from your local thrift you may not have a choice, or you may have 10 to pick from. Try and get one from the 1970’s if you can. Five pounds just weighed more back then. Regardless of what decade they’re from, make sure they don’t stink too bad or have any holes in them and you’ll be on your way down to weighed down stand before you can say, “Nice!”


Now Shipping: The Nice Clip! - The lens cap clip and cord catcher Wired called, "A super handy little widget!"

Chase Jarvis Portrait Sessions - Inspiration from a Master of Photography
Strobist Lighting Diagrams Photo Tips & Tricks Vol. 1

| | Technorati | Stumble it! | Digg

Tagged as: , , , ,


  1. Zeke, this is a wonderfully idea. Though I think cost will sky rocket to 3 $ since you probably need four of those.

  2. Been using them for years, their the best. Cheap too, even on clearance at you local super store.

  3. Another option I use sometimes is a couple of aluminium tentpegs in my camera bag for when I am shooting in a park, at the beach etc. Obviously doesnt work too well in the city.

  4. Damn Zeke, Great idea. I’ll be buying some of these. Ah, hell I’m gonna get myself an aerobics stepper while I’m at and bust out to the 80’s disco fever action. You know where I’m coming from here. and 1… and 2… etc…