Aerial pole photography - Elm .Aerial pole Discover the ... nodal point to avoid perspective errors

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  • Skills Photoshop Masterclass

    Your guideJeff Morgan

    66 | PhotoPlus June 2011

    Stand head and shoulders above other photographers and enjoy a lofty new viewpoint for your images

    Aerial poleDiscover the PhotoPlus method for

    photographyWhat youll need Camera pole Spirit level Wide-angle lens Remote release Photoshop CS or Elements Kolor Autopano Pro

    How long itll takeOne day

    The skills youll learn How to use a camera pole

    How to capture a pole pano

    How to shoot into the sun

    How to process a panorama




    method for

    Aerial polePhotoPlus method forPhotoPlus method forPhotoPlus method for

    CAN49.masterclass 66 5/11/11 8:25:13 PM

  • PhotoPlus June 2011 | 67

    Create a Rothko-style image Page 54

    Most images are captured from between one and two metres from the ground, because thats the height that the majority of us see the world from. Its easier to raise the camera to our eyes and snap a picture than it is to change perspective. Try changing your angle of view, however, and it can result in far more dynamic photographs.

    A great way to make your images more interesting is to get up high or get down low. Putting your camera on the ground and shooting from a worms eye perspective instantly gives your images impact. Similarly, fi nding high angles to shoot from, such as a stairway, bridge or an upper-story window, instantly lifts your

    images out of the ordinary. A common example is portrait photographers who carry a stepladder in their car to achieve a higher perspective for group shots. Changing your angle of view is a great photographic technique to master.

    This month were introducing you to the camera pole a very useful tool for changing your point of view. You can use a pole not just to give your photographs a fresh perspective, but to look over things that obstruct your view of the surroundings, such as hedgerows, fences, or sea defences.

    For this Masterclass, we got up early and headed down to Vicars Close in Wells, Somerset. Heres how we got on

    Stand head and shoulders above other photographers and enjoy a lofty new viewpoint for your images

    Aerial pole

    CAN49.masterclass 67 5/11/11 8:26:20 PM

  • 68 | PhotoPlus June 2011

    Skills Photoshop Masterclass

    Get a fresh perspective on the world!

    Capturing a pole panoramaSTEP BY STEP

    Extra kitFor a pano, rotate on your lenss nodal point to avoid perspective

    errors. The Nodal Ninja R1 Pano head (330) was easy to use, but not essential with a wide-angle lens if your camera is swaying on the pole. When the camera isnt in front of you use a radio shutter release, but you can also use a wired or infrared device see the Mini Test (page 94).

    Shooting settingsWith our 8mm lens we manually prefocused to 1m,

    with ISO100 for best quality, Manual exposure, and an f/8 aperture for a large depth of fi eld with the whole scene in focus. The sun in the frame in some shots would give different exposure readings, so we tested on the ground, checked the histogram and overexposure warning, then altered the shutter speed. We allowed the sun to burn out a little of the sky, and 1/400 sec gave a good balance of sky and shadows.

    Keep it upUnlike a tripod, even if a pole is fi rmly anchored to the ground, the top sways in the breeze, so its important

    to use a fast shutter speed to minimise camera movement. Its also best to ensure the pole is as upright as possible, so a

    bubble spirit level taped to the pole is a huge help. We used a Fanotec Rotator Footplate to stabilise the pole and control the

    rotation; its marked with 45-degree click stops, so for our four shots we rotated it two clicks each time and fi red the shutter.

    CAN49.masterclass 68 5/11/11 8:26:45 PM

  • PhotoPlus June 2011 | 69

    Group shotsA pole is useful for other types of photography too; its great for group portraits, but if youre not using an

    ultra-wide-angle lens youll need to see what youre shooting. The Hhnel Inspire Wireless Live

    View Remote Control (180, enables you

    to see the Live View image from your camera and to fi re the shutter remotely. If your camera doesnt support Live View, the unit has a built-in video camera you can use to help you estimate the

    fi eld of view, even if it doesnt show it exactly.

    Up the poleWe used a Fanotec Series 1 pole (324) that extends to 2.75m high. The pole comes in

    four sections that collapse down to just 0.81m, and because its made from carbon fi bre it only weighs 0.75kg, making it easy to carry. Its just like working with a very long monopod, although somewhat harder to handle,

    so take extra care not to smash your camera against anything! For an

    even higher view, the Fanotec Series 2 pole (660)

    stretches to 6m high.

    Wide boysA big drawback to having your D-SLR way above

    your head is not being able to frame up the shot. For a lot of pole photography youll use wide-angle lenses to simply include everything. We used a Sigma 8mm f/3.5 DG lens on a Canon EOS 7D, which captures a huge angle of view and makes a panorama quick and easy. Also clean your lens before attaching it to your pole to help control lens fl are.

    A big drawback to having

    quick and easy. Also clean your lens before attaching it to your

    Choose a new kit lens Page 96

    CAN49.masterclass 69 5/11/11 8:27:09 PM

  • Skills Photoshop Masterclass

    70 | PhotoPlus June 2011

    Centre the panoramaSelect the Vanishing Point tool in the top menu bar an icon with a small green square and red

    arrows. Click on the centre grid line on the right-hand side of the image, level with the centre of the door and just above it. Next, click on the blue gear wheel icon in the top tool bar; this launches the Render box used to confi gure the stitching of the panorama. Youll see the output size of your panorama in pixels on the top line.

    Export edited imagesClick the blue underlined text at the bottom of the screen, called Workfl ow Options, then set Space to

    sRGB and Depth to 16 Bits/Channel (or 8 Bits/Channel if you have 2GB of RAM or less). Set Resolution to 300 and Sharpen For to Screen, and hit OK. Click Save Images in the bottom-left, pick a destination folder, choose the TIFF format, and hit Save>Done. Close Photoshop and any other programs as the next step is memory intensive.

    Build a 360-degree panoramaSTEP BY STEP

    Render itIn the Render window, go to Blending presets and pick Simple; it works for this image but you may

    need other options for your shots. Click the drop-down menu in the Format box and pick TIFF for best quality; youll tidy the image in Photoshop so dont compress it as a JPEG. If saved the images as 16-bit TIFFs earlier, change this now to 16 bits. Change Compression mode to none and DPI to 300. Under Output, pick a folder to save the panorama, then select Render.

    Synchronise imagesClick the second tab, Tone Curve, and in the drop-down menu click Strong Contrast (because

    youve lightened the image so much). On the third tab, Detail, in the Noise Reduction section, set Luminance and Colour to 25 (since Fill Light is so high). Click the Select All button in the top-left, then click Synchronize. Ensure Settings is selected in the menu, and hit OK.

    360 photographySeveral devices enable you to take photos that span 360 degrees. With some you can shoot into a mirror ball that refl ects the entire panorama in one image; others enable you to stitch enough images together to form a complete circle.

    VR photographyVirtual Reality (VR) photography is similar to 360 photography, except theres usually some playback interaction where the viewer can scan inside an image, exploring it from different angles. The view is normally not just circular, but also up and down, so you need to take extra images and use special software to build the immersive viewing experience.

    Phrase Book

    All the specialist equipment used

    here was provided by 360 Tactical VR (, in East Kilbride. It supplies everything from poles to lenses to software and is expert in all things panoramic. Many photographers have also constructed their own poles, from such things as a strong fi shing pole, a window washer pole, a painters pole, or even a windsurfer mast! We even made one with an extending landing net pole and bolted it onto a monopod tilt head.

    Super Tip!

    Build a 360-degree panorama

    Fire up Kolor Autopano ProIn Kolor Autopano Pro, click File>SelectImages, and locate your four saved TIFFs. Press the green

    Detect button in the Group 1 box. A box opens on the right, and youll see its made a good attempt to stitch the panorama together. Double-click this to launch a full-screen window of the stitched panorama box. Its a full 360-degree panorama, so you need to tell the app where the panorama ends are split for your fl at image.

    Process RAW fi lesSelect pole_start1.cr2 through to pole_start4.cr2 on your Video Disc, then right-click and pick Open

    in Camera Raw. Set Exposure to +0.25, Recovery to 30 and Fill Light to 70 set high, as shooting into the sun compromises shadow detail. Set the following: Blacks 5, Brightness +60, Contrast +25, Clarity +40, Vibrance +15, Saturation 0, Temperature 5750, and Tint +2.

    CAN49.masterclass 70 5/11/11 8:27:15 PM

  • If you really want a really high perspective and cant run to the cost of hiring a helicopter! how about a really big pole? We spent a fun morning in Hampshire using a 15-metre pneumatic QTM Telescopic Mast made from aluminium alloy (, courtesy of PhotoPlus reader A. N. Reed. All