Pole Aerial Photography - PAP
flickr: Pole Aerial Photography
John photographing Muckraw (Dec 2008)
The continuous shooting technique, which we use with our kites, is also useful if you want to take pictures using the camera on a conventional monopod (or long telescopic or sectional pole). Alternatively, you can take a single shot on a shutter-delay setting (as below). The camera was held well above the heads of the crowd.
Conventional monopod held above the crowd, 10 sec. shutter delay
Since taking the above photo, we have bought some 8m sectional, fibreglass carp fishing poles (£18 - Seasonal from Aldi, often discounted to ~£6) and attached the top of a mini tripod. Avoid the similar, but weaker, flag poles.
The short screw which held the tripod head to the tripod legs was replaced with a longer one, the screw head sawn off, and the rest glued into the pole which was shortened, so that the internal diameter of the pole matched that of the screw thread. The end of the pole was reinforced with two wooden beads and nuts to prevent splitting. As with the kite rig, the camera has a backup attachment to the pole using the hand cord.
Fuji F100fd camera mounted on a carp fishing pole
Note that the cable tie had to be split to accommodate the zoom ring which is easily displaced
Our original infra-red enabled Optio E35 (we now use a converted Fuji F30) is shown below:
Kirkton Church, Bathgate
Fuji F30fd, 36mm equivalent lens, using 'continuous shooting' and 'sports' modes, mounted on a carp fishing pole as above
We use the pole telescopically and extend it before attaching the camera, ensuring that all the sections are firmly in place. Checking the pole for damage before use (especially looking for cracks at the ends of the tubes) is important. As with kite aerial photography, a high shutter speed is selected or, if not available, the 'sports' mode is used. We usually choose an ISO setting of 200 or 400. With high ISO settings, you are always trading off the ability to take photos at a high speed with image quality (camera shake versus noise). A camera that can take relatively low noise images at ISO400 is recommended and optical image stabilisation (not to be confused with cameras that simply choose a high ISO) is an added bonus. We set exposure compensation to either minus 1/3 or 2/3 of a stop. For general use, it is inadvisable to work with cameras weighing more than ~200g with this simple carp pole. For heavier cameras, especially SLRs, it is best to use a pole like the aluminium one shown below.
Many cameras set the exposure and focus at the initial press of the button, so have the camera pointing at something the same brightness and distance as the subject that you want to photograph. We normally pre-set our visible spectrum cameras to infinity for aerial shots.
The camera is removed before collapsing the pole (A cascading vertical collapse of the pole, with a camera on top, can damage the camera, the mount assembly and also your finger ends!). The tube ends can be sharp, so gloves are advisable when collapsing the pole.
The waterproof 145g Pentax Optio W60 (with time-lapse mode) is now our preferred camera for both kite and pole aerial photography in the visible part of the spectrum
McDonald's roofers at work in Armadale
Fuji F100fd, 28mm equivalent lens, using 'continuous shooting' and 'sports' modes
Falkirk Young Archaeologists' Club (October 2009)
Armadale Gala Day (June 2009)
Biggar Archaeology Group dig at Howburn Farm 2009
Ultra-violet pole aerial photograph (June 2009)
Here the base of the pole was uncapped and mounted on a ground stake for consistency of movement
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