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Photography Question 
Robert C. Garrigus
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/30/2006

Using a ladder for landscapes?

Hi BP members!

I have encountered a surprising number of situations over the past year where the added height of a ladder could have really helped my composition. I have since read that pros like Charlie Waite use ladders frequently. I have seen press and airshow photographers use ladders but since most of my landscape situations are not in the handheld shutter speed range how would this be done exactly? Does one use a clamp to make the ladder itself the tripod? I don't relish the thought of lugging a stepladder for miles across rocky coastline but there have been times when it could really have made the difference compositionally.

Thoughts and guidance appreciated.

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5/25/2007 9:38:56 AM

You could use a Gorillapod, Robert. And don't forget you have a 10 second timer release. If you use that you can get off the ladder and let it finish swaying before the shutter pops.

Have fun!

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5/25/2007 9:58:25 AM

Robert C. Garrigus
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/30/2006

Thanks! The Gorillapod looks like it might be a solution so I can get the tilt I need. I'd want to secure the camera in some fashion for peace of mind if nothing else. If I didn't just stay on the ladder my cable release should be plenty long enough.

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5/25/2007 10:53:14 AM

Bob Fately   Robert, another alternative could be a vice-grip based support. Buy a vice grip (or a few sizes and styles) and go to a muffler shop to have some 1/4"x32 bolts affixed to them. Then get a sturdy ball head (an Acratech? perhaps one on your tripod now?) and screw that onto the vicegrip.

Attach the grip to a bench, tree branch, telephone pole, etc. and you have a quite sturdy mount.

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5/25/2007 11:54:48 AM

Robert C. Garrigus
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/30/2006

That's a good suggestion as well and might even cost a bit less. I can see a lot of other potential uses as well.


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5/25/2007 11:30:05 PM

Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  In my own backyard, I have done some hummingbird and insect pictures while on ladders, and even though I was zooming in about 400mm, I was able to use shutter speeds around 1/200s because you can rest your elbows on the ladder, stabilizing the shot. I know that many tripods go up about 7 feed, so if you could take a small stepladder and that height would be sufficient, that may be an option. Good luck!

ScrattyPhotography Blog

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5/27/2007 6:03:50 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Another spin to Bob F.'s vice grip idea is attach a 1" x 4" x 1' board to the top of the ladder. A single hole drilled through the the top step (and one end of the wood) would allow for this simple support to be attached and tightened with a wing nut...allowing it to rotate 180 degrees for precise positioning.
The other end of the board gets an inverted hex bolt to accept whatever tripod head you have.

As mentioned, ladders can be shakey at best and may move or vibrate. Leaning it against a sturdy tree or rock may help.

...Then there's always the possibility of utilizing "God's ladders", like an elevated hillside or a nearby bolder.

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5/28/2007 6:04:34 AM

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