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August 19, 2010

One rope, one pole, one camera: pole aerial photography

Aerial photography gives a persepctive on the world that we normally miss, down on the ground.  Aircraft are a pretty expensive way of getting these images, so amateurs have been using balloons and kitesto get aerial photographs for a long time. The cheapest way of getting a view from the sky is Pole Aerial Photography, demonstrated in this photograph by Phoenix Rover Crew.

This rig consists of one 3m (9 foot) thatching lath, one light rope, a tripod (with one broken leg) that is round lashed onto the end of the thatching lath, and a digital camera.  More sophisticated systems use a remote control for the shutter release, but this system uses a 10 second timer delay on the camera- the kind you would use to press the shutter and run to pose in a group photograph.  To operate it, you would set the timer, press the shutter, then quickly hoist the camera up and aim it in the right direction.  Half the fun of this rig is getting used to the system- you won't take fantastic photos every time, but you will take photographs that can't be obtained any other way.

These 4 images were all taken with this simple PAP rig.  This Flickr pool has many more examples by other photographers, some made with aluminium telescoping poles up to 10m long

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