Black and White Photography - Vol. II

Dave Beckerman Photo Blog (New York Photography)

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Street Basketball

6 June, 2008 (09:26)

streetball8769 Street Basketball

Suppose you want to stick your 40D camera - or any current Canon dSLR on a very high tripod and raise it up way over your head to do high-angle shots. (I’ve been fooling around with this). But you want to be able to see what your doing at the same time; or in a pinch, right after the shot is taken.

You get your remote control cable or wireless remote control, and then you’ve got two choices. You can run a USB line down to (what - I’m not sure); or better yet, run a video cable down to (what - again I’m not sure).

I have a lot of questions about the best way to do that in the field.

Example ideas:

- Buy some storage device that takes the USB input and transfer the last image immediately (say the Epson p-5000). Can you download the last image without having to put the camera into some special mode.

- But the better idea is (I guess) to put the camera into live mode (again I haven’t played with this yet) and run a video cable out of the camera and down to some portable device (call it x) that takes video in.

That’s about as far as my thinking goes, but I don’t know what the X Device for viewing would be.

So to sum up, I have put together a lightweight rig that can extend to about 15 - 18 feet high, and I’m able to trigger the camera, but I can’t see what I’ve got unless I lower the camera to look at playback. That’s not too good because I don’t have a way to raise the camera to the exact height and angle… I’m shooting blind.

A low-tech solution is to have a 6-foot or so ladder with me, but that’s too much to carry and attracts even more attention than I already do.

I’m sure that people who do studio work do this all the time. I don’t want to lug a laptop either. I just want a sort of video viewer with a small screen that weighs less than a pound or so…

What do you think - is there a simple way to do this?

* * *


I bought a SONY fx820 dvd player and video extension cord, plus large RCA to small mini-jack for under $200. This works great (at least in the house anyway). The DVD player fits in my camera bag; I believe the battery will last for six or so hours. The thing with DVDs is that they don’t all have video line-in, so you need to check that. Although this isn’t LIVE VIEWING, (although it could be if I set the camera to live view) the camera is set to show the image until the shutter is pressed, so that is fed to the DVD player and I can study the framing etc. All-in-all, pretty cool. Thanks everyone for your advice. And if I don’t use if for photography, I have a nice portable DVD player.


Just returned from my first use of the SONY DVD hooked up to the Video Output of the 40D. The pros: it is light enough to easily hold in my hand while I’m reviewing the last shot. It’s clear enough so that I can check framing and see most of what’s going on in the shot.

The cons: don’t expect VGA quality, or HD quality out of the video feed. It is fairly coarse. On the other hand, with the little focus checkboxes turned on in the parameter settings I can tell what it focused on.

The only thing so far that’s bugging me is that it starts up in widescreen mode and I have to set it to normal mode, otherwise the image is stretched badly. I want to see if I can figure out how to keep the thing in normal aspect mode. Otherwise - it’s a great deal. It fits in my small camera bag. And I was at least able to see what I had just shot and what the framing was; which is all I wanted.

Shot with the new contraption; 96th street by entrance to FDR. This and most of the shots from the high angle are with the 20mm prime lens. I have some ideas I want to try with a longer lens. The contraption itself is sort of interesting. I made it mostly from gizto carbon fiber parts. Legs are from gitzo tripod, the center pole is from a heavier Bogen tripod, one extra center pole is from a gizto (attached to the Bogen center pole) and on top of that sits a Gitzo monopod. Oh and at the top is a ball head. I would really like to have a geared center pole instead so I can make slight adjustments without having the camera position move from left to right; but this is about as far as I’ll go with it. What’s nice is that the thing can easily be used as a normal tripod. Without all the extensions going up, it’s about 4.5 feet high.

In general, since there is definitely sway at the top when it’s fully extended, I’m generally shooting at as high a speed as I can manage.

highanglerig8796 Street Basketball

How stuff is attached. The c-clamp isn’t strictly necessary, it just gives a bit more security in case something snaps. So the top monopod is with two straight hinges (just to help keep the thing straight) with pipe (I don’t know what they’re called) attaching thingamjigs which have screws to tighten them (one at the top of the straight hinge, one at the bottom).

Pretty simple, though it took me a while to figure out the best way to keep the monopod straight. I could actually go higher than I’ve gone but I won’t be able to reach my cable release. I’m not sure if it’s worthwhile to spend the money on a remote release or not.

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