A really TALL tripod

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've been thinking about getting a really tall tripod for times when I'm in my car and want a couple extra feet of extension to get a different/better perspective. I got the idea from reading how Ansel Adams had an elevating bed on his truck. I've also thought about having a friend make me a plywood platform to put on the rails of my SUV, but after mulling it over, think that a very tall tripod would give me more flexibility, although perhaps not quite as much height. In looking through the B & H catalogue, the best tripods for this purpose would appear to be either the Bogen 3058 (max. extension 103") or the Giztos G508 or G509. (Max. extensions about 110") I supposed I'd need a step ladder to go with the tripod. Have any of you ever used a tall tripod for this purpose or built some sort of platform for your car/truck? Any thoughts about which option will give me more flexibility? Thanks. Ho

-- Howard Slavitt (info@naturelandscape.com), December 25, 1999


Bogen makes some REALLY TALL tripods, extension over 10 feet (no that's not a typo) they were on display at photoexpo, call and ask them.

-- Al Shaikh (nissar@idt.net), December 25, 1999.

Howard: Since you say you will need a stepladder anyway, why not mount a tripod head on the stepladder? This is not an original idea...they were once sold commercially and still may be. You may need to add a little extra width to the very top step to move the camera forward a little so you don't have to lean backwards. All you would need to do is drill a hole in the top step or extension and screw a short bolt into the bottom of the tripod head. I don't recommend this setup for mountain sides ,but it ought to work well on reasonably level ground or pavement. Happy Holidays, Doug

-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alanet.com), December 25, 1999.

I love this forum there are some excellent ideas. Now how do I carry a 7 foot ladder on my Honda Goldwing? I will have to take the car more which means I probably will have to take the 35mm, 6x6 and of course the 5x4. Amazing how a ladder can change your photographic veiwpoint.

-- Steve Nicholls (GL1500@CHARIOT.NET.AU), December 26, 1999.

Howard's idea is one that I am sure many of us share an interest in. The Gitzo 509 does offer height. I have such a beast but I carry it no farther than a few steps away from the car or truck. The tripod and a long geared column weigh more than 20 pounds! There are lighter tripods, but since the taller they are the more unstable they are likely to be, a lighter tripod may not be such a good idea in windy conditions. If you carry this one Gitzo tripod there is little left of you to carry a back-pack full of camera gear even a short distance, unless you do photography in the spare time and work full time with the World Wrestling federation. In other words, these gorilla tripods are studio or near-the-car tripods, nothing else. If you have an SUV with rear door flap, the open flap provides a stand about 30 inches above the ground, that gives you some lift, but is quite cumbersome because of restricted mobility. I have done that on occasion. I have used a ladder with a built in platform, about 30 inches above ground. This is far better, safer and more confortable than a step type. Some people have devised tall ladders with built-in head mounts, but those contraptions require a truck all to themselves. Ansel Adams' idea is for some things better; the platform on his truck placed him at least 7 feet or so above ground. RSVs with a ladder to a sunroof top standing some 9 feet above ground should be ideal: should you have to wait for the right conditions, you can do it sitting on a lawn chair with your gear handy. Waiting for extended periods while on a ladder is no great fun. Hope this helps.

-- Julio Fernandez (gluemax@ora.auracom.com), December 26, 1999.

Just remember to bring the cooler with your favorite beverage and patio table with sunshade umbrella up the ladder with you. Might as well be comfortable.

I have clambered all over the roof of my old Land Rover, which I fitted with a sheet of 3/4 marine plywood ala Ansel. He had a pretty thorough outline of how he fitted his old International in one of his Basic series books, Camera and Lens I think.

There used to be a short tripod mount for the cine tripods that was called a high hat or top hat. It stood about a foot or so tall, and took the head from a Ries or Pro Jr. It had three stubby legs with mounting holes in them for fastening to anything you could clamp to or drill through. They might take some searching, but might offer a solution, or a starting place for designing your own.

-- Tony Brent (ajbrent@mich.com), December 27, 1999.

I need tripods that mount on car windows I am from Australia

-- Nilesh (spytoday@hotmail.com), June 15, 2001.

I regularly carry a 3-step ladder with me on trips where I'm driving. I use a Gitzo 1300 series carbon fiber tripod with a center column and find this ladder will allow me to fully extend the tripod and stand comfortably behind it. The size of this is such that I can carry it along for a mile or two without any trouble. I will often use a rock or piece of fallen tree to level the thing if the ground is lumpy. The little ladder also serves as a decent seat for when I'm waiting for clouds to move into position, etc. One tool I've found indespensible for using this set up is a machinest's inspection mirror. When you're up on the ladder and aren't free to walk around the camera to check lens settings etc., this little mirror will save you a lot of grief. I hope some of this is of help.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (info@razeichner.com), June 15, 2001.

If you can dig up Clyde Butcher's website, he has this huge fiberglass tripod--something like 14 feet--maybe adapted from a surveyor's tripod, that he uses with a tall freestanding ladder, with 8x10" and larger format cameras.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), June 15, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ