Lighting stand 'tripod' for high views

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David Kilpatrick
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Lighting stand 'tripod' for high views

Unread postby David Kilpatrick » Sat Mar 27, 2010 8:21 pm

I have been experimenting with air-pole shooting techniques, currently using the A900 and my 16mm fisheye, though I plan to do more work using the Sigma 12-24mm. The method for getting horizons straight is simple enough; when you are holding a 3 to 4 metre pole with a camera on top, balance alone means it tends to be straight.

I am using a four-section Courtenay lighting stand, fitted with a Giottos ball and socket. With the legs set for maximum height (a footprint of only about 25cm triangle) it places the camera at 4 metres 20 from the ground, or just under fourteen feet. I use a 5m Minolta remote release cord, and could deal with a 5m pole/stand if need be. In practice, I don't place the stand on the ground, but hold it with the legs supported by my belt/hips which gives a good secure grip.

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This morning's farmers market in Kelso town square (when it was quiet - it would have been nice to shoot earlier on with busy crowds and full stalls, but the sun was not on the town hall front to the same degree, and I wanted to test the rig without too many people asking endless questions about it.

With the camera at ISO 320 and the lens at f/11, focused manually just inside infinity, the camera is used on A with the eyepiece blind closed. It's a quick process to shoot, drop the pole to ground level (where space permits, without collapsing it) and check the image. Bracketing the angle of tilt by simply changing the pole angle, within comfortable balance range, shows that when I think of the pole as 'vertical' I am actually holding it with a slight forward lean.

On the way back I secured a commission to photograph some building work in progress, just because the owner saw what I was doing.

David

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Birma
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Re: Lighting stand 'tripod' for high views

Unread postby Birma » Sun Mar 28, 2010 1:17 am

Interesting shot DK. I'm not sure I would feel very confident with all of that camera on such a long poll, but it does open up a new perspective. (I can just see the shadow of the top of the set up, bottom left.) If you were using the D5000 does that have an electronic horizon-levelling function that can be displayed on the rear screen? Would it be too far away to help?
Nex 5, Nex 6 (IR), A7M2, A99 and a bunch of lenses.

David Kilpatrick
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Re: Lighting stand 'tripod' for high views

Unread postby David Kilpatrick » Sun Mar 28, 2010 1:34 am

I may try the A550. I don't have a cable release for the D5000. I have tried wireless remote infra-red, but the angle is wrong for firing the Sony or Nikon cameras. There is a Seculine electronic spirit level which accepts an extension cable so you can attach a remote readout, but this only fits standard hot shoes and is a very expensive way to make hardly any difference. It is surprisingly easy to hold a pole vertical.

At least for me, the camera weight and pole length present no stability problem - and I'm pretty weak, I don't get much exercise and found lugging my 30ft metal ladder over to the house and getting it propped up a real struggle yesterday (the wind had been making overgrown wisteria hammer on the windows). I bought that ladder in town maybe seven years ago, and walked back with it, so I am in serious need of exercise now. But - I could handle this rig without wavering, very steady and very sure even with the A900 and not a lighter camera on top.

David

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Re: Lighting stand 'tripod' for high views

Unread postby Javelin » Sun Mar 28, 2010 4:47 am

if you want to ensure straight horizons all you need to do is incorporate a counter weight. gravity always works and depending how you rig it you can make it bias a down angle if you like then it doesn't matter if the pole is ona slight angle when the shutter goes off. you would have to use a head with a loose swivel though I don;t think a ball head would be too good like this but might work

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Re: Lighting stand 'tripod' for high views

Unread postby KevinBarrett » Sun Mar 28, 2010 6:41 am

A 6 foot mono-pod held straight over my head yielded this funny result: miniaturized people hiking ahead of me.
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Birma
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Re: Lighting stand 'tripod' for high views

Unread postby Birma » Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:28 am

KB, may be they are Hobbits? :D Is that a straight monopod, or is a trekking pole that turns in to a monopod?
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Re: Lighting stand 'tripod' for high views

Unread postby David Kilpatrick » Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:18 pm

One of the demonstrations at my studio workshops (sorry, I have not done any since moving to Scotland in 1988) involved getting photographers to learn how their own height and viewpoint influenced their vision. We had a pair of stilts with a 1 foot height increase for anyone willing to try, but a simple exercise with blocks to stand on works as well. Same for putting the model on a stage (we had a very strong long bench-table support, used for creating a tiered height with a 9ft background roll width).

David Bailey attributed the success of many of his 1960s close portraits to working with a Rolleiflex and 75 or 80mm lens, from waist level, only 4-5 feet away. The low angle on the faces, and the closeness, approximate what a child sees of an adult to whom they are close (not keeping their distance). This is a particularly compelling viewpoint in perception psychology, especially male portraiture.

Norman Parkinson had extreme viewpoints, as a very tall photographer - eye level put him above models even if they were very tall themselves, producing a looking-down viewpoint which appeals to men when viewing pictures of women - and not many other photographers could get the same shots. Of course he could use low viewpoints as easily.

So being tall is an advantage for photographers, with the return of the 'waist level finder' in today/s articulated screens restoring a viewpoint which we had almost forgotten about.

David

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Re: Lighting stand 'tripod' for high views

Unread postby UrsaMajor » Sun Mar 28, 2010 6:38 pm

David Kilpatrick wrote:David Bailey attributed the success of many of his 1960s close portraits to working with a Rolleiflex and 75 or 80mm lens, from waist level, only 4-5 feet away. The low angle on the faces, and the closeness, approximate what a child sees of an adult to whom they are close (not keeping their distance). This is a particularly compelling viewpoint in perception psychology, especially male portraiture.
. . .
So being tall is an advantage for photographers, with the return of the 'waist level finder' in today/s articulated screens restoring a viewpoint which we had almost forgotten about.
I have been amazed for many years by the number of people who do not recognize how much the viewpoint can affect our perception of people, especially in pictures. Over the years I have had many friends and colleagues remark about how much "better" my photos of my children and grandchildren are than the pictures they take of their families - and attribute it to either my equipment or my skill. Neither reason is valid, as I would be very hungry if I ever attempted to make my living as a photographer, and I have never been able to justify to myself the expense of high-end equipment for a hobby.

What I have done in many - not all - of my family photos is to take them from the level of the children themselves, rather than from adult eye-level. IMO, this helps to "connect" the child to the person who is looking at the picture. As examples, the pictures below of two of my grandchildren were taken a few days ago inside my home. I am under no illusion that either image is more than just a family snapshot, but I am also convinced that each of them is a much better image than would have been produced if it had been taken from the eye-level of an erect adult.

With best wishes,
- Tom -
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Re: Lighting stand 'tripod' for high views

Unread postby WaltKnapp » Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:33 am

David Kilpatrick wrote:I am using a four-section Courtenay lighting stand, fitted with a Giottos ball and socket. With the legs set for maximum height (a footprint of only about 25cm triangle) it places the camera at 4 metres 20 from the ground, or just under fourteen feet. I use a 5m Minolta remote release cord, and could deal with a 5m pole/stand if need be. In practice, I don't place the stand on the ground, but hold it with the legs supported by my belt/hips which gives a good secure grip.

David


I don't do photography that way, but do a lot of nature recording on a tall lightstand tripod, a little taller than yours. Mine has air damping so that when I release the locks to lower it does not crash down but is more gentle about it. When out in the field, where I generally camp in my truck I'll set it up in the evening and record anything that comes along during the night. For that I normally use my modified SASS. The SASS picks up about 270 degrees, like a super wide lens.

Image

A couple recordings from the tall SASS setup, the first the coyotes are about 1/4 mile away, the second one recorded from the spot in the photo and it's river frogs, both in the pitch black middle of the night:
http://naturerecordist.home.mindspring.com/2004D005-003.mp3
http://wwknapp.home.mindspring.com/SASS_MKH20_tall.mp3

Walt

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pakodominguez
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Re: Lighting stand 'tripod' for high views

Unread postby pakodominguez » Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:58 am

David Kilpatrick wrote:David Bailey attributed the success of many of his 1960s close portraits to working with a Rolleiflex and 75 or 80mm lens, from waist level, only 4-5 feet away. The low angle on the faces, and the closeness, approximate what a child sees of an adult to whom they are close (not keeping their distance). This is a particularly compelling viewpoint in perception psychology, especially male portraiture.
...
So being tall is an advantage for photographers, with the return of the 'waist level finder' in today/s articulated screens restoring a viewpoint which we had almost forgotten about.

David

I understand that. There is some work done by Avedon the same way.
Ths is my take:
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Pako
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