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Author Topic: Long exposures at ladder height  (Read 7508 times)

trevarthan

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Long exposures at ladder height
« on: August 19, 2014, 05:08:25 pm »

I've had a couple of scenes recently where my Manfrotto 055XPROB's 70" max height just isn't high enough. What's the best way to shoot solid long exposures at ladder height (say, 8' - 14')?

I'm aware of those aerial mast systems for real estate, but I'm hoping for something more hand carry portable. I don't mind having to set up a ladder for myself in order to use the tripod. Having to assemble something is fine too. I just want really steady images.

Ultimate fallback plan: throwing together something made from wood in my basement wood shop.

Ideas?
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PeterAit

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2014, 06:14:10 pm »

Aren't there some "tripods" that can clamp onto something? So, you get a ladder, climb up and clamp the camera onto the top rung, compose the shot, then go back down and use your remote release. Not that I have done this, but seems workable.
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trevarthan

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2014, 06:39:56 pm »

I don't know, but doing some research, it appears that ladders make good tripods as long as:
  • you use a long remote release and get off the ladder before taking the shot
  • you clamp a board to the top with a screw for a tripod head

I wasn't aware that you could use a ladder because I got chewed out for using one earlier in the year on another forum. However, now I realize they were chewing me out because I didn't do either of these things. Instead, I hand held while standing at the top of the ladder. That's going to yield poor results.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2014, 06:41:46 pm by trevarthan »
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Colorado David

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2014, 11:31:32 pm »

If it were me, I would cut a piece of wood the size of the top of your ladder, drill a 7/16" inch hole through it and the top of the ladder, and use a 3/8" bolt to attach my ball head.  I'd put a couple of sand bags on either side of the ball head for extra stability, use a remote release and have at it.

trevarthan

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2014, 08:18:36 am »

After much groaning and grumbling last night, I bought an extremely expensive Faxko FT16 16' reverse tripod ladder.


It collapses down to a manageable size for storage and transportation (looks like it will even fit in the long bed of my pickup without sticking out, which is nice), and it's about 12 lbs lighter than a conventional 14' tripod ladder, while still giving 16' reach. The design is rather novel. Looks stable to me. It's rated for capacity by OSHA, and it's a tripod and a ladder at once.

Setup looks to be a giant pain in the ass, but I'm ok with that if it's stable and lighter and more compact: http://youtu.be/21DOH2Ig0xo

It should be tall enough for anything short of conventional aerial work, and I can always fabricate bracing if it's not sturdy enough. They say shipping takes about 5 days once it's in the mail, so we'll see.

I'm going to reserve tripod head mounting speculation until I've got the ladder in hand and set up, but I saw a hole at the top of the ladder, so maybe I can use that with a threaded rod to make a clamp of some kind for a mounting plate.
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LesPalenik

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2014, 01:21:02 am »

I'm not sure how stable that ladder is, but it could turn out to be your best investment yet.
Another good thing is that beside the photography it can be used also for painting gigs.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2014, 06:04:51 am by LesPalenik »
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2014, 02:36:55 pm »

I didn't know about that make of tripod before. Thanks Les!
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trevarthan

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2014, 11:26:56 pm »

The faxko ladder arrived a few days ago (they were backordered). I've been busy with work, so it sat under my deck still in the packaging. This evening, however, I noticed nice puffy white clouds. I thought I better get my butt in gear. After work, I hurriedly cut the packaging away with a utility knife and quickly tested it out. Very sturdy, I must say. I was impressed. I have a number of ladders ranging from simple painter's ladders to giant extension ladder beasts I need two men to maneuver and a winch to stow. This ladder is surprisingly stable and light weight for it's reach.

I didn't have time to fabricate a mounting plate, so I just used bungie cords to secure my collapsed tripod to the top of the ladder:


I don't think I'll be extending it the way Faxko recommends. It's a slow painful process. If I can find a faster way, I will. But it's ok for minor adjustments.

I'm pretty happy with the initial results. Even with my lame mounting system, I got pretty good results with the ladder extended three or four stops:


Delta Queen (long exposure) by Trevarthan, on Flickr

Time will tell if it's as stable fully extended.
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NancyP

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2014, 02:03:11 pm »

Thanks for the info. Good old Delta Queen.
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LesPalenik

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2014, 09:26:32 pm »

Good result! How tall was the ladder as shown beside the ship?
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trevarthan

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2014, 01:37:41 pm »

Good result! How tall was the ladder as shown beside the ship?

I don't know, but it extends to roughly 13' tall as measured from the center to the top of the ladder. I measured the footprint today too. 7' from the ladder to one outer leg. 6' 1" between the outer legs, when the ladder is fully extended. This means it's more stable front to back than side to side.

With two people, it can be easily fully extended on the ground and lifted into position without going around the legs like a goof a few notches at a time. The procedure is simple: Fully extend on ground, then have someone stand on the feet of the ladder to keep it from using you as a fulcrum. Then simply walk the ladder up from the other end using your hands. Once it's vertical, reach up and release the clips holding the legs to the ladder (I'm 5' 9" and had no trouble reaching them fully extended, but anyone shorter might), grab the legs and extend using your arms. Super simple.

I did it by myself using a concrete block instead of a second person. Worked fine. I did the goofy notch dance to get it back down though. I didn't trust the concrete block on the way down for some reason. A second person would be handy for sure.
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dwswager

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2014, 09:47:11 pm »

I've had a couple of scenes recently where my Manfrotto 055XPROB's 70" max height just isn't high enough. What's the best way to shoot solid long exposures at ladder height (say, 8' - 14')?

I'm aware of those aerial mast systems for real estate, but I'm hoping for something more hand carry portable. I don't mind having to set up a ladder for myself in order to use the tripod. Having to assemble something is fine too. I just want really steady images.

Ideas?

http://hipod.com/

You don't need the super duper extras that the Video guys need for remote control. Saw one at the Soccer Fields today.
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trevarthan

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2014, 10:35:51 am »

http://hipod.com/

You don't need the super duper extras that the Video guys need for remote control. Saw one at the Soccer Fields today.

That's interesting. Quite a large price difference though (I saw $3500 - $5000 when I searched for "hipod price" on google), and I wonder how stable the hipod would be for long exposures. Looks like it would get a lot of sway up there.

The real estate people use truck trailered elevation cranes (similar to hipod) for elevation photos of residential and commercial buildings. I don't really want to pay that kind of money as usually I want something smaller, lighter, and with less reach. Also, I think this entire industry will be quickly replaced in 2015 when the use of drones will become legal for commercial use in the USA.
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LesPalenik

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2014, 07:46:28 am »

Recently, I was assisting a friend in taking a large group pano.
We used a sturdy metal ladder that can support easily 2 people and a separate tall tripod for the camera and pano gear.

Attached are two pictures showing the setup and section of the scene with people.

 
« Last Edit: September 24, 2014, 07:56:24 am by LesPalenik »
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lowep

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Re: Long exposures at ladder height
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2014, 10:53:34 pm »

I tried turning my tripod upside down and tieing it to a rafter that worked fine, gravity seemed to work as well as sandbags do... though you can be sure I checked more than once that my camera was well attached to the tripod before i let if go.

Just in case you are wondering yes I did flip the image 180 degrees in post
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