Photo by Robert Jordan, University of Mississippi
I’ve always carried a few of the suspended celling mounting clips in my light kit bag with cold shoes which are Nikon/Canon locking pin compatible for hanging battery powered strobes from the celling. Using the clips, you can hang a flash from the celling without worrying about a light stand in the shot. The clips are inexpensive and work well, but they only work on suspended celling grids and you have to get both hands all the way up to the ceiling grid to attach/remove them to the grid.
A couple of years ago I needed to buy a few small ball heads for a project. There are lots of cheep ball heads available, but I had really good experience with the Grifiti Nootle iPad mounts and ball heads so I was shopping on Amazon for a Nootle ball head when I discovered they were now available with an optional magnetic foot with a ¼-20 threaded stud for a few bucks more. I bought two of the ball heads with the magnetic feet and put the feet in my gadget drawer.
Not long thereafter I came across the magnetic feet in my gadget drawer along with my stash of awesome cold shoe mounts. I had an idea….I threaded a cold shoe on the magnetic foot and wondered if the foot would hold well enough to hold a flash. I stuck the foot on my metal doorframe and had to slide it to the edge of the frame to pry it off. I stuck an SB800 strobe on it and went around the office attaching the magnetic base augmented strobe to file cabinets, doorframes, venetian blind headers, air vents and suspended celling grids. I’ve replaced the ceiling grid clamps in my light kit with a pair of the magnet bases. I’m about 5’9” and I only need to stand on a couple of books to attach/remove a magnet mounted strobe from a standard ceiling whereas I had to have a step-stool to attach the ceiling clamps. There’s no reason you couldn’t use the ball head with the flash/magnetic foot, but I find that I can aim the flash anywhere I want to without it. I’ve been carrying the magnetic feet in my camera and light kit bag for over a year now with no ill effects on any of my camera gear, memory cards, batteries, etc.
Robert Jordan is Director of Photography at the University of Mississippi, email@example.com