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Remote Camera Images

Richard Lowes , Feb 01, 2006; 04:27 p.m.

I saw a reference to remote camera images in an earlier post (was a basketball pic) and thought I'd start a seperate one. I'd like to hear from people who've had experience with this and see some examples if possible. To the point, my question is how do you protect the camera? I'm thinking basketball and volleyball specifically but would be interested in other ideas (track?). Is there any precautions or tips you can give that would help protect the camera? Set up ideas?

Thanks.

Responses

Lex Jenkins , Feb 01, 2006; 04:50 p.m.

For basketball...

First I'd look for a ready made box, like the types used to enclose thermostats, meters, valves, etc., and customize it to hold the camera and, if necessary, flash. I'd try the Grainger or other industrial supply catalog. If I couldn't find something ready made to modify I'd build one using Lexan, acrylic or plexiglas.

To trigger my D2H/SB-800 I'd use a Pocket Wizard. Other cameras can be triggered from a reasonable distance using an IR remote. I've heard of some D70 owners using inexpensive universal remotes (for TVs, DVD players, VCRs, etc.) to trigger their cameras remotely. Pretty cool and a helluva lot cheaper than a Pocket Wizard (which also requires an expensive adapter for the D2H and other cameras).

The tricky bit would be mounting it where it wouldn't endanger the players, interfere with the action or damage the wall or supports, unless you are given permission to drill into a concrete wall. If you are the official photogapher for a school they might be willing to accomodate such a request. At the schools where I shoot I'd have to homebrew a support, such as suspending the camera enclosure from the ceiling and taping it to the wall to keep it stable. There's no other way to mount it short of drilling into the wall. I'd rather just crouch under the basket for closeups and hope nobody runs over me.

Some venues accomodate cameras mounted directly over the basket. These can make for dramatic shots. SI and other sporting mag photographers do this routinely. You'd need permission and a clamp to attach your gear to the overhead supports. Getting permission might involve consulting with the school engineer - most colleges have such a department on campus. High schools and below might have an engineer available for consultation, or one assigned to the entire school district. Pro and semi-pro venues may already have accomodations set up for photographers, including flash, and you'll just need permission to use their setups. However there's probably a waiting list and applications may need to be submitted well in advance of the season. Even tho' I live only 15 minutes from Texas Motor Speedway and know someone who works there I have yet to get a press pass because I haven't submitted an application in time.

For volleyball you could ask permission to set up a tripod at the side of the net. Balls and players seldom go off course directly to the side, so it's unlikely the camera would cause any problems. At the schools where I shoot the first row of seats are only a few feet from the sideline, so I'd want to arrive early enough to set up before someone claimed those seats. And, of course, be sure it's okay with the school officials, game officials and coaches.

Track would be the easiest to set up for remotes. You could set up a tripod behind the fence or use a clamp to attach to the fence. Bogen/Manfrotto and others sell 'em. Ditto auto races and other such events.

Roland Simmons , Feb 01, 2006; 08:17 p.m.

I posted an image taken with a remote camera in an earlier post that had to do with wide angle lenses. I am about to buy a Bogen Variable Friction Arm to use my remotes behind the backboard glass. Make sure you safety cable everything. The shot that I posted....the camera was superclamped to a fixture sticking out of the wall. I used a Pocket Wizard Multimax set to "Relay Mode" so that I could trigger the camera and trigger my strobes using one PW on the remote camera instead of two. (if you want me to explain how it's done, email me).

Protecting the camera....I never thought of putting the camera in a box for basketball. Like I said...safety cable everything. I just tried not to put my camera right on top of the action.


remote shot

Richard Lowes , Feb 02, 2006; 06:17 p.m.

Thanks Lex and Roland. Lex you seem to be a wealth of information. Very much appreciated, not only here but on other posts as well. Something I read that might be of note for others involved a picture in a book (The Art of Seeing 2, I think), the picture was of a bull during a running of the bulls type event. The caption related to wrapping the camera in bubble wrap and using a remote cable. If you get a chance to browse the book it's an awesome picture, from the ground looking up, of an out of control, charging bull.

Cheers

Lex Jenkins , Feb 02, 2006; 11:18 p.m.

Pay extra attention to Roland's advice to use a safety cable or tether. Just recently President Bush got an opportunity to make a wisecrack at the expense of the news media (which is only fair play, they've had a lot of fun with him) when a remote controlled camera came loose from its overhead support and dangled from the ceiling. Fortunately the photographer who rigged it used the neckstrap as a tether. Not the best safety strap, but better than having five pounds of gear come crashing down on the noggins of the press corps or president.

Carl Auer , Feb 13, 2006; 06:28 p.m.

For basketball, you need a superclamp, magic arm, camera (full frame works best, but 1.3 will do. Might even want to consider film), and a wide angle lens, pocket wizards, safety cables, and Gobo (to cut down on refections), windex, paper towels, and a sturdy ladder. Clean the front and back of the backboard glass. Pre assemble your super clamp, magic arm and camera on the floor, then use the ladder to get up behind the hoop. Clamp the super clamp to one of the back board supports and safety cable it. Now, adjust it to the location you want to capture the images you want. Set your exposure for about 6-8 inches in front of the rim. F5.6 is a good f-stop, if you are shooting ambient, take into account the DOF at 2.8 or 2.0. Strobing is better because you can shoot at low ISO and f-stops to give you a better DOF. Cover up any logos etc on your camera that might reflect onto the glass and then hange your gobo (black paper taped with scotch tape to the glass) to reduce glare. If strobing the game, you should have a pocket wizard to trigger the strobes on your remote and one on your floor camera. You then need a second pocket wizard set on a different channel to trigger the camera. Oh, and do not forget to compensate your exposure for shooting through the back board glass.

Volleyball is a little different. You would want to use the same set up, minus the Gobo, but it depends on where you want to set it up. Some leagues will not allow you to mount your cameras to the net supports, but some may. Most Vball remotes are taken from the rafters and pointed down with a long lens (70-200 or 300mm) at the court. Be sure the rig is tight and safety cabled.

For other sports it is similar. There is a Nascar photographer who is mointing a remote on a tripod on the infield, there are companies that make floor plates that you can mount 3 or 4 cameras on. I will be using a remote camera for baseball this year. Basically, a low floor mount with a ball head, holding a camera with a 70-200 lens. The camera will be positioned behind home plate looking from home to third base.

Estimate anywhere from $500 to $1000 for the gear you need for a remote camera set up (minus camera and lens).

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