Creature from the Blog Lagoon 17: Hex, Sighs and Gaffer Tape

Anything interesting going on these days?

Yes, I’ve been absent from the blog for quite awhile. Let’s just say 2020 isn’t a year I’d like to remember, as is the case with pretty much 7.8 billion people.

First, about “hex.” Hex is the mathematicians’ word for 16, or rather, base 16. Those wacky mathematicians and their “new math.”

Okay, that’s out of the way. I plan to broaden my photographic horizons in 2021, so I’ll be getting into flash photography a lot more. In preparation, I’ve been brushing up on the latest technologies and equipment offerings. Back in my day, when cigars were a nickel, we only had four-sided softboxes. Now, sheesh, we have four-, maybe five- and six-, eight- for sure, and 16-sided parabolic softboxes. I recently got a pretty good deal on a used 16-sided parabolic softbox and I put it together for the first time today.

Putting together a traditional four-sided softbox that uses removable rods has always been a nightmare. You have to force “bendy” rods* to one’s will despite their protestations. Doing four of those can be difficult; you have to get the rod ends into the speed ring and the other ends of the rods into the little fabric pockets at the wide end of the softbox. It’s a workout. Doing hex of them (okay, 16 of them) is enough to land one in a sanitarium. You might accidentally have rods crossing each other, destined for the wrong holes in the speed ring or the edge of the softbox. Sixteen rods are hard to keep track of. That’s what I was facing at first. Then inspiration struck. It was almost a rod that struck me, but no, it was inspiration.

Once again, gaffer tape comes to the rescue. I made little flags of tape, marking one set of opposing rods with red, the pair of opposing rods 90 degrees out with yellow, and the rods that lie halfway between them in black. If I’d had enough colors of tape I would have marked each opposing pair in a unique way. Even using only three colors, I think this will do nicely to make it at least a little easier to assemble.

So yeah, I wrote a blog post about gaffer tape. Next up, the sex appeal of aluminum foil.

*Edit: Most of these rods are steel, but some, like those that came with this monstrosity, are made of fiberglass. I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about, but they scare the hell out of me. I can just see one snapping and impaling me in the chest or eye.

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