March 12th, 2008
Today I’ve been testing my PAP (pole aerial photography) equipment because this weekend I have to shoot a new listing we have where the home is sited well above the street and there may not be room to use my usual technique of standing on the roof of my pickup. I thought it would be worth while to review my approach at shooting PAP with a minimum of fuss and expense.
Here is my approach to PAP:
- You don’t need to be all that high up to significantly improve the look of a front shoot of a home. The photo above was shot at 14′. This home is sited at street level. My belief is that an easy to handle 8′ to 16′ painter’s pole is plenty for 90% of situations you will encounter. Sabrina over at themeshnetwork.com pointed out that Manfrotto makes a 24′ tripod that would also work nicely. You can fold up the legs and use it like a pole at any height up to 24′.
- Now days for around $250 you can get a pocket camera that will work great on a 16′ pole so you won’t risk destroying your DSLR and lens. I use my Canon G9 pocket camera but I’ve also used an old Coolpix 4300 with great results.
- You don’t need a bunch of fancy electronics to make PAP work. A 10 to 15 sec self timer works beautifully. Mike Martin pointed this out a long time ago and at first I didn’t believe it, but I’m now a believer. A pocket camera on a 16′ pole triggered with a 10 sec self-timer works great! Mike uses a 30′ fiberglass windsock pole the same way. Just set the timer, press the shutter release and put the pole up. It’s important to have the audio turned on so you can hear when the shutter releases. I can set my G9 to shoot a whole series of shots several seconds apart when the self timer goes off.
- The last issue is attaching the pocket camera to the pole. This is not difficult. Painter’s pole’s have plastic tops with a small hole. Just cut the head off a bolt and thread it into the plastic. In some cases it may be possible to put the same size bolt in the pole as fits on the camera mount. Otherwise attach an inexpensive flash bracket to the bolt and attach the camera to the flash bracket. Below is the way I attached my Canon G9 to my painter’s pole.
What I like about the painter’s pole approach is that the whole thing is very easy to handle. If I need to get higher I can stand on my truck with the pole and I can use it in very tight spaces. It took about 20 minutes to put the bolt on the top of the pole and drill the hole in the flash bracket. I had all the parts to put this pole together but if you don’t you can get the parts for about $60 USD. Even if you have to buy the camera it’s possible get all the parts for around $350 USD ($550 if you use a Canon G9).