Elevated shots of the front of homes are extremely important. More important for some homes than others but an elevated view always seems to help. For years, I've been limited to standing on the top of my truck. The roof of my old 1995 Tacoma was permanently concave from this activity. For some reason, I'm having a hard time starting the denting of the roof of my new 2006 Tacoma. Besides standing on the cab roof or even using a ladder in the back doesn't get you all that high.
So my discussion with Mike Martin last week about how he does his pole photography got me going on building my own PAP rig. Today I finished the lash-up you see above with just stuff I had laying around. Well, I had to buy a 3/8x20 bolt but that was only $1.69.
I started with a window washing pole that telescopes to 16'. I'd noticed that the head on the top of my Manfrotto 3016 monopod unscrewed so I found a bolt that would screw into the bottom of the Manfrotto head and it turned out that the 3/8 bolt nicely screwed into the top of my window washing pole. Just like I had planned it that way. Now all I had to do was attach my old Nikon CoopPix 4300 (I'm not ready to put my 1Ds and 16-35 on this thing... call me a chicken) and I had a camera on the end of a 16' pole.
This is similar to the pole that Mike Martin uses. Except he doesn't use the monopod head on his. He takes the camera mounting bolt directly into the top of his pole. Also, he uses a 32' windsock pole. Something like this one. Mike said that he uses the 30 sec timer to trip the shutter. Much to my surprise using the 30 second timer works OK. I feel I could get by just fine using the 16' pole and the timer. This is a remarkably easy rig to use.
The above is my first PAP shot in my backyard (Couldn't do it in front because of the sun angle). I'm always amazed at how little elevation it takes to appear really high. This is only 16'.
After I'd built my 16' pole rig I was reading the Photography For Real Estate flickr discussion group and noticed that Malcolm Waring was talking about a similar PAP rig that he'd built. Malcolm said that he rigged up a mechanical remote shutter release with a paper-clip and a $60 TV down-link from his camera. This sounds good to me! I think I can come up with a mechanical shutter release for next to nothing and since I only have $1.69 invested at this point a $60 portable LCD TV would make this a pretty smooth machine.
I think PAP is going to become a permanent part of my process!
Update: If you don't want to guess at what you are shooting you can purchase a small portable LCD TV and plug the video-out from the camera (many compact cameras like the CoolPix 4300 that I'm using have a video-out jack) and run down the pole with a long cable and plug in to the video-in jack of the LCD TV. I've not done this yet but Malcolm Waring talks in the flickr discussion group that I cited above about doing this on his rig. Hopefully he'll tell us how his works.