Gaffer tape (also called gaff tape or gaffer’s tape), is the duct tape of the photography industry. But unlike duct tape, it doesn’t leave a residue, so photographers don’t cringe when using it to attach something to an expensive piece of gear. It also doesn’t have duct tape’s reflective quality, so it can hide a blemish on a similarly colored surface. Toss in easy, no-scissors tearing and the tape’s strong hold and it’s easy to see why photographers are fans.
But perhaps the biggest reason to keep a roll of gaffer tape around is the number of problems it can solve before and during shoots. The Slanted Lens‘ video contains 50 examples of this, and it’s well worth nine minutes of your time — if not for the tips then at least for the laughs.
Gaffer tape also works well to simply mark spots, such as where a model should stand, where you need to put your tripod if you want to use the exact same perspective again, and where the props should be set. Props can also benefit from a few gaffer tape tricks of their own, like attaching a light to the back of a semi-transparent object.
One popular gaffer tape trick is to attach colored gels to lighting equipment — but there’s one caveat: Don’t use gaffer tape on lights that get hot to the touch.
Safety concerns bring out another handful of uses for the stuff, including taping cords to the floor so they don’t become a fall hazard. Some plastic and a bit of gaff tape can also help protect gear from the rain.
One common application that the video doesn’t include is the use of gaff tape to alter a light. For example, a softbox can be modified into a rim light by taping out the center. Some photographers have also used gaffer tape to alter their lighting to change the shape of the catchlights.
The video shares a few unusual uses for gaffer tape, too — bandages, sticky notes, and repairs to wardrobe malfunctions. One more great tip from the video: When winding gaffer tape around something, like a cord, fold down the end for easier removal down the road.
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