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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Give POV A Try

Capture the action when the action speeds up

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Getting the camera out from the bike was tricky, but well worth it.
The POV kit also needed to be light and compact because I was carrying all of my camping gear, food and camera gear during the ride. My Munda Biddi Trail gear fit nicely into my BOB trailer, but I didn't have any additional room for exotic photo-rigging gear or a photo assistant to carry extras. That meant I couldn't bring my custom camera bracket mounting equipment—a complex camera mount that takes 30 minutes to assemble and disassemble from a bike. Additionally, when considering the mount for the POVs on this long trail shoot, the ideal gear would have to work double-duty for other photos on the trail.

A few weeks before the trip, on a nice single-track trail near my house, I worked out several camera angles on the bike frame that would deliver the photos I wanted. For the camera mount, I chose to use my Gitzo carbon-fiber Mountaineer tripod. The tripod was fitted with a medium ballhead. This is the same tripod I would use for my landscape photos as well. Gaffer's tape solved the issue of quickly attaching the tripod to the bike, and a sharp Swiss Army knife was my POV dismounting tool. The camera would be triggered by my wireless PocketWizard transmitters. The PocketWizard was taped to the tripod. On this shoot I used a Nikon D3S, which is about as heavy an SLR camera as you can imagine, but the mount was stable even as the rider was whacking the camera past trailside bushes.

By the time I was out on the Munda Biddi, I had already tested my POV mounting setup several times. To keep the mount simple, I had rehearsed three POV positions for the camera. Position 1 was the bike's top tube in front of the seat. With the center tube of the tripod I could raise and lower the perspective of the camera's POV. That's how I made the shot here of the rider's handlebars and sunset. Positions 2 and 3 involved attaching the tripod to the bike's rear rack (where the panniers are attached). For these positions, I pulled the lower legs of the tripod out and taped them to the rack and frame. This allowed me to extend the legs of the tripod and tighten them once I had my camera in the optimal position. I called these positions 2 and 3 because I had both a high position and a low pedal-level position. Combined with a 16mm fisheye lens, changing the position even a few inches would give dramatically different results. For the rear-rack camera mount, I hung the camera upside down, as the ballhead wouldn't hold the camera upright.

For the published story, the POV action photos I made on the Munda Biddi were the perfect complement to my other photos on the trail. And that really is the intention of the POV style—to bring the viewer into the scene for a moment, but not to end the story there.

Bill Hatcher travels the world in search of adventure and good stories. His images have appeared on the cover of 40 magazines. Visit his website at www.billhatcher.com.

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