Here in the shadow of Afton Mountain the winds whip around and bite you in the neck like vampire bats. Even on ostensibly calm, spring-like days you’ll find a feral breeze harboring potential 45-mph gusts. I hadn’t anticipated the wind when we took a temporary rental here and, alas, left my sandbag in San Rafael. (Sounds like a song.)
Anyhow I quickly discovered that shooting outdoors with light stands and—god forbid—umbrellas is potentially hazardous, if not illegal.
The other day I needed a weight for my tripod and I wasn’t about to drive 35 miles to the nearest camera shop and blow fifty bucks on a "professional" sandbag. I did try the local hardware but my request was greeted with a shake of the head from the clerk. Then he thought of something and disappeared in the back room. When he returned he held out a large burlap bag with a flimsy paper tie.
"What about the sand?" I asked.
He smiled. "Try Virginia Beach."
On the drive home I wondered if a hot water bottle might work. I hadn’t seen once since I was a kid but I vaguely recalled they had flaps resembling elephant ears. Maybe I could drill a hole through them.
Later, I complained to my wife about the situation.
Without missing a beat she said "How bout this?" and handed me a cast iron fry pan.
I was skeptical, but when I attached it to the tripod it seemed pretty sturdy. Hell—it even looked like it belonged.
"I think you just invented the frypod."
She gave me a look and walked away.
Oh well… it’s like Frank Zappa use to say: "Necessity is the mother of invention."
Or something like that.