Pole Top Photography
Below are details about some of the methods that I use in my photography. They are reproduced here in the hope that they help others. However, I would like to stress that I am not the font of all knowledge on photography, and I would hope that people read these notes with a completely open mind, as there may well be better methods out there.
In order to gain extra height when taking photographs, I sometimes mount my camera on top of a large pole and control the camera remotely from the ground. This allows me to change my vantage point so as to include more background, allows pictures to be taken over the top of high walls etc where otherwise there would not be a shot, and also makes it easy to fit into the gallery of photographers on a photo charter as I just stand behind them and shoot over their heads.
Below are details of my pole set up which I use with a Nikon D750. This set up (with minor tweaks maybe?) should work with most Nikon DSLR's that have a live view facility. Starting from the bottom of the pole:
The pole I use is a Brodex Summit STA36 window cleaning pole (which measures about 10 metres fully extended). I did originally use a Harris 5 metre painters pole. These are available at about £16 from DIY stores, and I would recommend having a go with a 5 metre Harris pole first and see if you are happy using a pole before paying out big bucks for anything else (indeed, the Harris pole may suit your needs and you might not wish to invest in anything more expensive).
Towards the top of the bottom
section of the pole I have a tablet holder fixed to the pole. This can be
I use a Samsung Galaxy tablet (model SM-T310), and I have opted for a wired connection to the camera. If going for a wired set up, your tablet needs to be compatible with an 'On the Go' (OTG) cable. Not all of them are, and I found that most models being sold by the main high street retailers were not compatible, but the sales people hadn't even heard of OTG. An internet search should give you the model numbers of those that are.
The cable set up from the tablet
is as follows - OTG
cable with female USB - 5
metre USB 'Active' cable (if you don't have an 'active' cable, there is
a risk that the length of cable will drop signal over this distance). This
cable has a male 'A' on one end and a female 'A' on the other end - the
cable that would connect you camera to a PC is the final piece of cable that
plugs into the camera. These cables are attached at strategic points to the
pole by cable ties. The length of cable I have in my set up is far in excess
of what is required for a 5 metre pole, but should I switch to a taller pole
at a later date, I already have the appropriate set up.
At the top of the pole I have
removed the end fitting that various painting tools attach to, and in it's
place I have fitted an adaptor that is home made. This fits over the end of
the pole and is screwed in place. On the top of this is a 3/8" UNC
screw thread, and attached to this is a Manfrotto 234RC head to which I
attach the camera. The illustration below shows the Harris 5 metre painters
pole with adaptor and Manfrotto head.
The software I use on the tablet to control the camera is called DSLR Dashboard. This is a free app and it works really well with a Nikon (not so well with a Canon as I have tried it with a friend's camera). The latest version of this software is not available from Google Play Store, but can be downloaded here. This app allows a pre-set burst of shots to be set, which when you press the shutter button will fire that number of shots. For stuff going like stink I usually have this set to about 8 shots.
It is also possible to connect a camera to a tablet or phone using a wifi connection. My D750 has built in wifi, but when I was using the Nikon D600 I had a Nikon WU-1b transmitter which plugged into the camera. Do an internet search to see what devices might be available with whatever camera you are using. This is also a good piece of information on creating a wireless link.
So why, when I can connect
wirelessly have I opted for a wired set up?
More and more people are going down the pole route. I was on a photo charter alongside four other pole users, all of whom had a wireless connection. Now my tablet did not try to connect to any of the other devices, but with so many wireless signals around, the live view became glitchy and kept freezing. The shutter would not fire while it was in one of these freezes. So should I be alongside several other pole users at the lineside for a top shot, the risk of not getting the shot would be increased. I also had an incident at a bus running day when I was stood alongside a house with a very strong wifi signal, and the same thing happened. Having a wired set up means that I do not have the wifi issue to worry about. I still can, if need be, connect to the camera wirelessly should I wish to.
One thing that many people (who don't use poles) keep bringing up on various forums and on Facebook is the subject of overhead cables and how long before someone fries themselves. Well, a bit of common sense is needed and when using a pole it is wise to carry out a risk assesment of your surrounding area before sending the pole skyward.