Pole Photography 101 – How To Build A Better Pole – By Rich Baum

July 28th, 2014

RichBaumPAPRich Baum just pointed out the post he just did explaining what he uses to shoot elevated real estate shots and I think it has a lot of good information. He says:

So you might think this shot is a nice exterior but what you may not know, this was shot from 18? up on a painters pole using what we refer to in the Real Estate Photography industry as a “PoleCam” shot…

As the front yard of this home was slopping dawn the only way to get the composition I wanted was to get the camera up really high, but even though my tripod of choice is a Manfrotto 3046 and goes up about 7? I still needed to go up higher and this is how I got this extra height.

Over the past year so many photographers have ashed me about how I built and what I used and how I ended up with the pole I did so I am finally doint this Blog Post for anyone that ever wanted to get into pole photography but didn’t know how.

I started out by surfing the web for the various components I would need to accommodate a height of over 15? and found several options such as a Manfrotto 269HDB-3U Super High Camera Stand which would get my camera up 24’…

Read his whole post here.

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17 Responses to “Pole Photography 101 – How To Build A Better Pole – By Rich Baum”

  • This is a terrific post and an excellent read! Thanks Rich for the post, super informative and useful.

  • Great write-up, Rich … I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for taking the time to put this together (pictures and all!) and share it with us!

  • Brillant

  • Great write-up Rich. While in the example, you noted the property sloping away, what I particularly like with usually flat property is the elevation shows off the landscaping detail that just cannot get from ground level. As a shortcut to carrying a step stool around, I have the camera mounted on the platform, check (or preset) the zoom level since can’t adjust it with camranger then attach it to the pole.

    Mine is similar and can see the advantages of your stop points of your non-circular pole. I still remember going into Home Depot, extending their poles and whipping them as I checked for flex. That model wasn’t available then and I ended up with an 18′ (3×6′) Mr Longarm which was on a killer closeout special. I like your PVC drop over where I used a painter brush handle (top part unscrews for removal) and the first one did crack on me but the replacement with a metal band at the bottom is much better. As a suggestion to the “bare naked camera” at the top of the pole, an idea I got from Pole Pixie is the optional platform. While they use clear plexi, seeing the camera from below isn’t really, particularly Camranger, so I used so scrap 1/4″ MDF painted black to look professional. To attach, used 2 “L” brackets with bolts straight through the paint roller handle, and a couple of bolts up top to secure the MDF. Additionally, attached an Manfrotto quick release bracket on top for convenience but that particular model (RC2) required gluing a small strip of wood to create a step up from the platform to accommodate the lower lock switch.

    Last week had to do a ‘repair’ so back to Home Depot. The plastic end handle doesn’t hold up to resting on sidewalks and other hard surfaces. Solution: In the hardware department those heavy duty table leg footpads. Mine took the 1 1/4″ size as I checked the size with a similar pole in the paint department.

  • I found the easiest solution for me was buy a 24ft (6 section) extending pole made of aluminium. This was 80 pounds (130 dollars) from a TV antenna store. You just extend the pole, tighten the screw which is fitted with large round button as you go up. As for the camera. I just take out the centre pole from my Manfrotto and slot it into the top of the extending pole, tighten the screw and off I go. I can attache the camera, extend the pole to the full hight in less the 1 minute. Easy 🙂

  • Great suggestions and tips on how to attach the camera to the top – securely! I attach my poles (3.5′ sections left from a defunct car shelter) and attach to my 8′ step ladder for stability. From the top of the ladder, I can acatually see the camera screen on video view (Canon) and with an extenion cable I can shoot my 3 brackets sucessfully. But it does take a little time to set up. But the large 1 1/4″ pole does give a good rigidity even with a light breeze, important when blending exposures together especially on the long exposures for those twilight exposures. Some might say “just use photo drone” but you only get one shot and for those well spread exposures to combine, it is not the same. And what great images you create. Kudos.

  • Rich,
    Thanks for sharing your helpful tip. Looks like I’ll be taking a drive to my local Home Depot.

  • I have pretty much the identical setup except that I’m not nearly as clever or handy as Mr. Baum so I opted to buy the entire Pixie Pole Kit which set me back about $220 + $35 shipping. The CamRanger is indispensable which I also use for interior shooting. To stabilize the pole I purchased surveyor’s tripod from Ebay for $95. You have to hunt a bit for one that has a large enough hole in the top that will accommodate the 2″ diameter of the pole.

  • Anyone care to comment on the Manfrotto 269HDB-3U? I’m currently looking into buying one.

  • Thanks for the write-up. Great to see a beginning to end write up.
    I bought the Pole Pixie a while back instead of a DIY solution because I really no longer have the time and they were an advertiser and supporter (I think) of this site.

  • Has anyone used the Wonderpole Camera Pole? http://wonderpole.com/products/camera-pole/ I am interested in it but do not know what is on the end of it. I emailed them and there has been no response. Not a good omen.

    I have been contemplating a pole camera for a long time. We have so many large live oaks around here that it is tough to get aerials with a drone alone.

  • That’s a nice camera pole, Rich. Your advice to start out slowly is excellent, it takes a while to learn it all and create great photos. I think the step ladder for raising the inner segment should be avoided though, there’s a lot that can go wrong when your hands aren’t on the ladder. I like DIY solutions like this, good job.

  • I am happy to see so much interest in the subject.. and I agree there are so many ways to go about this and in the end I will say, to each his own and use whatever you find does the job.. I will add that in hindsight this is one of the few things that I have no need to change, upgrade or modify in any way.. I am super happy the way it works and even though there are a few shortcomings like needing to use a step stool to reach the adjustment I will put up with that as it’s the only way to get a 2 section pole that is 16′ feet in length and thus saves lots of time raising and lowering.. And as far as putting up a smaller / lighter camera, I now have no issues at all regarding the safety with my investment up on basically a “Stick” and I have the CamRanger already hooked up and in place from the interior portion of my shoot so it’s always ready to go.. I am not suggesting you purchase a CamRanger for Pole Photography but I think if you don’t have a CamRanger for your interiors photography you are missing out on the single best purchase I have ever made for photography (aside from a camera)

    So good luck and if you need any help please feel free to send me an e mail to rich@richbaum.com

  • I use the Wonderpole Camera Pole http://allflagscom.mybigcommerce.com/camera-ready-poles/ and love it. I use the Wheel Stand 24 for the base and have no trouble raising it up to 18 feet. The camera mount adapter that came with it easily accepted a ball head with a quick release plate. My camera goes from the tripod to the pole almost daily.

  • Great article! I will definitely be doing this!

    For those that have Amazon Prime, here is a link to the the same pole Rich suggests.
    http://www.amazon.com/Wooster-Brush-R057-Sherlock-Extension/dp/B00181UGA4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406731204&sr=8-1&keywords=8+ft.-16+ft.+Sherlock+Extension+Pole

    Josh Mais
    http://www.kansascityspaces.com

  • I use a fiberglass telescopic mast from Max-Gain Systems. It fits in the trunk of my car, & extends to 24′. I have a Manfrotto Quick Release receiver on the end that matches the various tripods I use. The camera moves easily from tripod to pole. A pair of PW III’s fires the shutter with near 100% reliability.
    I have tried everything out there (to my knowledge), & this is the best solution I have found…

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