Hi, this Jay P. Morgan. Today on Slanted Lens, we’re going to talk about sandbags. Sandbags are helpful for weighing things down that could fly away or fall over on set, creating havoc and resulting in broken equipment. It’s not a sexy topic, but one that everybody should know about.
Here we have four different types of sandbags. They differ in handle placement and weight. How heavy your sandbag is will vary depending on the manufacturer. The sandbags we typically use on my sets are 25 and 35 pounds.
I don’t love sandbags with handles attached only at the middle, because it’s difficult to pull the sandbag off the light stand when you pick it up. It actually gets tighter around the leg of the stand. If the handle is attached on the sides of the sandbag, then it’s much easier to remove.
We have a very small sandbag called a shot bag. It’s filled with lead shot. So it weighs about as much as a lightweight sandbag, but it’s in a very small, compact, little container. You can use shot bags on booms, to counteract the weight of the light. You don’t have to deal with the bulk of a normal size bag to get a nice amount of weight on the back of your boom. So shot bags are really worthwhile. Get a 5 or 10 pound shot bag.
You can also use them to secure your tripod by placing it on the hook that hangs down in the middle. Now your tripod is weighted and it’s not going to fall over- it’s not going to get bumped very easily, if someone kind of knocks into it. It’s not going to fly away.
The Rocksteady Bag by PhotoFlex is the sandbag that I always take when I travel. It’s a bag that has zipper pockets in it, so that you could put water bottles or something similar. When you get to your location you can buy some water bottles, fill it up, and you got a great sandbag to go on your lights or your tripod, or whatever you’re doing.
Let’s now talk about the proper way to use a sandbag on a normal light stand. A lot of people just plop the bag down on the outside of the light stand leg, which just doesn’t work. As the stand pulls up, it will slide off, and the stand falls over. However, if you put the sandbag inside the leg, it can’t fall off, and it’ll give you a nice weight to keep that stand in place.
Now for the proper way to use it on a C-stand– I see people all the time that drop it on the bottom leg. What happens is that most of the weight is on the ground and not on the stand, so the stand’s going to lift up quite a ways before it starts to engage the sandbag. So you really have to use the bags on a heavy leg. Get it off the ground, so all that weight is solid on the stand.
I also adamantly feel that the sandbags should be away from the weight on the stand. If you’ve got a heavy light, put it away from the weight so it will counteract it, and hold the stand up.
I hope this has been a helpful quick tip on sandbags and the proper way to use them on a stand.
Keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’.