Great PAP Introduction Article and Video By Ron Risman

August 6th, 2012

Thanks to Mike Yother, aka The Swampman, for passing along the link to this great PAP introductory video and post over at

Ron does a great job of covering a lot of the basics of PAP (Pole Aerial Photography). For real estate photographers is stuff is all good PAP basics that you need to know because as a professional you might as well give up the idea of UAVs and RC helicopters because it’s just never going to be legal (For details see: Rusty Freeman’s experience with this issue) any more, so might as well learn and start using PAP.

Ron covers:

  1. Two different poles and mounts.
  2. Remote triggering example.
  3. Remote viewing example.
  4. PAP video

I think every full service real estate photographer needs to be able to do elevated shots like Ron Describes because there are just too many homes that are sited too far above the street to get a good front shot. Simple PAP is the easiest way to get a good front shot.

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14 Responses to “Great PAP Introduction Article and Video By Ron Risman”

  • Great informative video. I’m headed to amazon to shop.

  • Semi off-topic, but out of curiosity… the “illegality” of UAV’s and RC helicopters for commercial aerial photos… is that limited to the US only, or does it apply in Canada as well?

  • I built mine when I found a 18′ Mr Longarm on closeout at Home Depot fo $19.99. Haven’t seen that three 6′ section pole since, but check out any pole in the store by how much it whips. To simplify the attachment got a paint roller handle (plastic with metal reinforcing base ring) and twisted out the upper metal part. Two 2 1/2″ L brackets attached to top of handle, drilled straight through for the 2 bolts aligns both “L” brackets. To the top of the “L” bracket I bolted a 9×9 piece of scrap 1/4 MDF had from another project. Didn’t use a ball head, just a Manfrotto RC2 quick release, but had to attach (glue) a small piece of 1/4 MDF as a step-up to accomodate the lower lock-pin on the RC2 RQ. A 1/4(20) attaches the QR plate to the platform. Painted the wood portions black to appear professional.

    Couple of notes.
    1. Don’t need a specialized remote release. Not using flash outside, and flash triggers with appropriate cables to camera works fine.
    2. Don’t even think about lifting from the ground when fully extended. Even with leverage through walking it up, there is a huge amount of stress at the pole/platform connection area. If doing it that way, a spike in the bottom to keep it anchored as you walk would be beneficial. Still, just raise it straight up. Initially, I did the walk-up but noticed a crack develop in my first handle which was all plastic.
    3 Wireless DSLR controllers (android or apple) without a second supporting computer appears to be stuck in perpetual beta. If doing wired like in the video,still don’t know why didn’t attach to the top of the lowest section that never would be raised. If you have live view, so what if you have to look down to the 4′ (or 6′ in my case) level

  • @Ray, this is a hotly debated topic, the FAR/AIM, the rule book the FAA publishes annually does not mention RC multirotors specifically so much of the confusion and misinformation comes from how people are defining UAV’s. An RC multirotor is not a Predator Drone for example but a lot of bureaucrats are trying to put in the same category. Nevertheless, I believe that Canada’s airspace is more regulated than the U.S, which doesn’t mean that its illegal but I’m sure they have their version of the FAR/AIM where you could find out.

    I don’t think the comment of the legality of AP from a multirotor is necessary, I do AP from multirotors all the time and do a lot of PAP as well, its just another great tool to get a different perspective. There are times where the conditions aren’t right and I don’t think its safe to fly, or its just easier and quicker to use a pole instead. This should not be as much an issue of legality as it is safety, keep in mind that painters poles where not designed for “PAP” and putting a DSLR on the end of one can be dangerous.

  • @Chuck et al- my comment about the legality of using UAV/RC-helicopters for commercial purposes is based specifically on Rusty Freemans well documented interactions and discussions with FAA for details see:
    The FAA shutdown Rusty… seems pretty clear to me.

  • This is possibly where a lot of confusion comes in. First, the FAA does not have the authority to close any business, they only have the authority, given by congress to create the laws that govern the use of the NAS which is defined in the FAR/AIM. So there’s a process the FAA MUST go through to create those laws. Right now they are going through that process, in part, by conducting surveys and hearings in a process called NPRM [Notice of Proposed Rule Making]. What has happened is that a lot of “special interest” groups have complicated the process and are jockeying for position to make sure that their definition of a UAV is exempt from any restrictions. However, The FAA has not completed this process and submitted these new rules to congress for ratification.

    We still live in a country where you are innocent until proven guilty, which means that the burden of proof is on the government, not the user to clarify the law. There is no law, mandated by congress (Yet) that specifically denies us the right to use RC Helicopters or multirotors for AP. Phone calls with the local FSDO and threats of fines and imprisonment from FAA staffers does not constitute a law. If they don’t have a number to write in the little box on the citation that you have to sign acknowledging that you understand your rights as they were explained to you by the arresting law enforcement officer then there is no law because that number does not exist yet.

  • @Chuck- Tell that to Rusty and the LAPD who was telling LA Realtors earlier this year not to hire UAVs for photos. Their leverage on Rusty was, since he had a pilot’s license, the FAA threatened to revoke his license.

    You may be able to slip by for a while but it’s pretty clear that by the time Congress gets through with this issue all forms of commercial unmanned flight will be illegal… just a matter of time. Sure, it’s outrageous but there’s a lot more outrageous stuff than this going on!

  • @Ray – Here is a reference that summarizes laws for UAV use in various countries:

    According to this reference if you have insurance and a permit it is legal in Canada. I can’t attest to the accuracy of the above info.

  • Yother’s write up and enthusiasm for PAP is great. And I hate to be a negative ninny, but the video is far from great. Script first. Shoot. Review. Retakes are not against the law. And then EDIT! He clearly has at least some editing skills/ showing the picture in picture, switching from a zoomed crop to a full shot, but that was tough to watch, really. Could have easily cut that 20 minutes to a nice and very informative 6-8.

  • @Nikoli

    I too hate to be a negative ninny, but you clearly need assistance…..Ill help you with caps:

    “Thanks to Mike Yother, aka The Swampman, FOR PASSING ALONG THE LINK to this great PAP introductory video and post over at”

  • Chris, thanks for pointing out to Nikoli that I didn’t write the article or make the video.

    I’ve been doing PAP for a long time and find it is helpful for some but not all properties. An item thats not mentioned in the video is how dangerous it can be sometimes. No, I’m not referring to power lines, which are a concern, but the unexpected amount of weight you deal with due to the mechanical advantage of having the fulcrum (you) so far from the center when lowering it. A few years ago, I was shooting a cover for Homes & Land on a riverfront property. Due to its location, I took my kayak instead of the boat because there wasn’t a nearby boat ramp. Since it was a 3 story property and I wouldn’t be able to stand and get the camera as high as I wanted, I decided my 16′ pole would work better than a monopod. After taking a few shots, I went to lower the camera and the end of the pole caught on my kayak. It is a 14½’ kayak with a weight rating of 450 lbs. which the D300 with 17-35 didn’t appreciate. As the kayak was turning over and I realized what was happening as I went into the river, my only thought was to keep the pole vertical. Eventually my feet touched the bottom and luckily for me, the camera was still on the pole about 6′ over my head. This lucky feeling quickly disappeared when I realized I was standing neck deep in a river on the edge of a swamp with gators and snakes. I made it out okay and the camera equipment was fine but while trying to keep the camera from falling, I had torn the rotator cuff in my right shoulder. After some x-rays, an MRI, two painful cortisone shots and a couple of months of therapy, I was able to avoid surgery however it was tender for a couple of years.

    Bottom line – be very careful if you do try PAP.

  • I think Ron Risman’s PAP video was sincere in his attempt to make other photographers aware about the additional possibilities of alternative shooting. I use a 40’ pneumatic pole on my van for elevated images, but like the ability to have another way of shooting from about 9’ without having to set up my heavy rig. Plus the pole is portable and allows me to move to a location that my van can’t go.

    I think I will purchase a sure-time pole for some additional shots that I normally couldn’t get and appreciate the information and grateful for his feedback.

  • My apologies Mike. Thanks for the clear assistance Chris.

    I’ll rephrase.

    Ron Risman’s write up and enthusiasm for PAP is great. And I hate to be a negative ninny, but the video is far from great. Script first. Shoot. Review. Retakes are not against the law. And then EDIT! He clearly has at least some editing skills/ showing the picture in picture, switching from a zoomed crop to a full shot, but that was tough to watch, really. Could have easily cut that 20 minutes to a nice and very informative 6-8.

  • No comment on the video quality – because this is an instructtional about pole photography and Ron’s video does a great job on covering the subject. My goal when I watch a video is to learn something. We have a pole and a tilt platform in our closet that hasn’t come out of the box. Now hopefully we can do something with it. I am inspired and excited to give Brad a good opportunity to add to our shot list. Thank you Larry and Thank you Ron for this video.

    @Nikoli – your suggestions for video are great and we should all take the advice in every video we do, whether it is instructional or sales material – the basics of producing a video should be used all the time.

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