Easy DIY Umbrella Mount for Your Tripod
Sometimes the weather just doesn't want to cooperate with our photography schedules. Or you may have discovered the beautiful pastel colors that happen in rainy weather. Or maybe it's snowing all over that expensive camera.
Many companies make a number of rain covers, but here is another possible solution.
Glade Creek Mill in a Light Rain
Perry's Water Garden in a Steady Rain
Whitehead Cabin During a March Snow in the Great Smoky Mountains
Before I begin, I should thank Bill Lea and the late Dean Collins for their influences for this article. If you've seen Bill when he spoke to our club, you know that photographing in the rain can produce beautiful images. But most of us don't want to get our expensive gear soaked. And if you're an old graybeard like me, you might remember Dean as one of the most innovative and motivating photography teachers in the 80's and 90's. Several of Dean's articles dealt with building photographic accessories out of common PVC plumbing pipe and parts. So when I started out to make my own umbrella mount, PVC was my first choice of materials because it's cheap, readily available and easy to work with. My whole rig costs around $5 and took about 10 minutes to make.
I use Induro tripods (CT 313, 213 and 113), but this design should work for any tripod with a removable center column. If your tripod has no center column or it can't be removed, stop reading now, and go work on your own design.
My basic design starts with a 1in. diameter PVC Tee. The 1 in. fits my 213 perfectly, is loose with the 113 and didn't fit the 313 until I used a hole saw to drill it out to 1 1/8 in. The best idea is to remove your center column and take it with you when you shop for parts. Your tripod may require a different size than I used. While it isn't necessary, I cut mine as close as possible on each side of the Tee so it will work with a short center column. If you only use a long center column you can skip this step. If you do cut down the Tee, use a miter box to make sure that your cuts are square.
After the Tee is slid over the column, add a piece of 1in PVC pipe roughly 4 in long. This piece needs to be long enough to make sure the umbrella clears the camera body, but no longer or it creates leverage to unbalance your tripod. The other end of the 1in tube inserts into a 1 in to 1 1/2 in bushing. That is inserted into a 1 1/2 in right angle fitting, and a 4-6in (depends on the length of the umbrella handle) piece of 1 1/2in tubing is inserted into it. This is where the handle of the umbrella will be placed. All tubing cuts should also be square, so either use the miter box or a tubing cutter. I prefer not to glue any of the joints, but twist them together hand tight. This allows me to adjust the angle of the umbrella. It would look great painted black, except most paints don't adhere to PVC.
PVC Parts Diagram
In use, the umbrella is placed in the upright piece of 1 1/2 in tubing. I prefer a large golf umbrella for maximum coverage. There are two important precautions to keep in mind with this rig. First, make sure the umbrella fits loosely into the upright. You want a strong wind gust to remove the umbrella rather than send that expensive camera and lens crashing. Second, the umbrella is in the mount only while you set up and compose. Remove and hold the umbrella when you actually shoot, so that any vibrations the wind would create on the umbrella don't get transmitted to the camera and tripod.
The Completed Mount in Use
PVC Parts $5.00
Water Damage to studio while getting this shot $875.00
Keeping your expensive camera dry PRICELESS