DIY garden tripod

DIY Garden Camera: How to Make a Magnetic Tripod for Your Phone

Photos by Ryan Benoit

Lately we’ve been shooting less with our big camera and more with our smartphones. I’ve even recently photographed entire blog posts without breaking out the DSLR — something I wouldn’t have dreamed of even two years ago. Today, the rear camera on the iPhone 6s shoots at 12 megapixels, impressive enough that it’s hard to tell the difference, especially in bright conditions. We won’t be retiring our 50 megapixel Nikon D800 anytime soon (nothing can replace the manual controls, long exposure, zoom, ISO boost, and enlargement capability), but it’s nice to go light on occasion.

If only we could easily mount our iPhones to a tripod…

Back in November, I stumbled upon a mini tripod and a large rubble aloe at an estate sale in the neighborhood.  I walked out with both for $10. (Score.) I envisioned being able to use the mini tripod to do time-lapse photography in our garden beds with our iPhones. Except I had to find some way to mount the phone. The tripod’s thumbscrew wouldn’t screw into the iPhone, so an adapter was needed. A magnet mount (the same one we use in our car) was the solution.

DIY mini garden tripod

It all started at an estate sale down the street. We brought home a large Aloe perfoliata (mitre aloe) and a telescoping compact tripod.

DIY mini garden tripod

We fell in love with this inexpensive magnet mount for our cars. It easily sticks securely to your dash with double-sided tape.

We then bought a second magnet mount and attached it to the mini tripod. The mount is adjustable so that you can easily angle your phone. The tripod’s head is also adjustable in three directions making it easy to get that angle you need.

DIY mini garden tripod

We were immediately in business. It was the perfect table top tripod for capturing time-lapse photography from our phones. It is essential to use a tripod when shooting in time-lapse mode.

Beer garden

We stayed up late night to watch a triple Echinobivia bloom after our beer garden party.

DIY garden tripod

Put your camera in time-lapse mode and record your dahlia petals unfurling.

Our magnetic phone tripod has become one of our favorite photography gadgets in our garden and for when we travel. We move our phones between the tripod and the car mounts seamlessly. It’s perfect for capturing blooms in time-lapse in your garden. It’s the best way for taking a timed selfie with your plants (without the strained arm). We love that it can be set up low in your garden bed to capture plants.

At the time of this post, we can’t find any other magnet mount, telescoping iPhone tripods on the market. So, here’s how to make your own!  

DIY Magnetic Phone Tripod

Tools and supplies:

DIY mini garden tripod

Step 1. Drill 1/4 inch hole in car mount flange. This can be tricky because the bit will want to spin the plastic mount out of your hands. We left the double sided tape (underneath) on. Make sure to drill in the location shown (see next photo).

DIY mini garden tripod

Step 2. Align the car mount and the tripod head as pictured.

Step 3. Thread on the 1/4 inch nut.

DIY mini garden tripod

The nut won’t thread all the way on, but that’s okay.

DIY mini garden tripod

Step 4. For your phone to stick to the magnet, you will need to put a thin piece of metal (included with the mount) between your case and your phone. We have not had any issues with the magnets effecting the internals of our phones.

DIY mini garden tripod

Step 5. Shoot!

We often use it with our camera phone in timer mode.

DIY garden tripod

It’s perfect for taking selfie GIFs on the flora- (and humanity-) filled High Line.

DIY mini garden tripod

You may remember this shot from our tour of Airlie Gardens.

DIY mini garden tripod

DIY mini garden tripod

DIY mini garden tripod

DIY mini garden tripod

Perfect for capturing timet-lapse videos on our night-blooming cactus wall.

This post contains affiliate links, which means we get a small commission from purchases. Of course, we only recommend products that have worked well for us (and for our garden). 

—TH