No tripod? No problem – A lazy approach to overhead photography

Dec 17, 2016

Adam Frimer

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No tripod? No problem – A lazy approach to overhead photography

Dec 17, 2016

Adam Frimer

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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Living on the 9th floor in my apartment, anything that gets left in the car, stays in the car. Even if I later “suddenly” remember that I need it while I am at home. Having the enormous responsibility of my project 365, this is usually bad news for me. I knew that I was going to take a picture of one of my guitars because I had planned to. The only problem is, I wanted a table top. And for that… you need a tripod. I’m sure you know where I am going with this. Yes, the tripod is in the car, and its pouring outside, its cold, and anyway I’m flustered because I decided to postpone the picture till 2:00 am. I’m just not going down to get my tripod!

So it was time to work around it, because honestly, I couldn’t think of anything else to take a picture of…

So I knew I wanted a wood background for my guitar, a nice tabletop from Ikea will do just fine. Next I needed to raise my camera, I put the chairs on the table, but turns out the table wasn’t wide enough to give me enough space to shoot the whole guitar. So I moved them apart as far as I could and let another two chairs hold them up. I have this Gorillapod that I have lying around so I knew if I could attach it to something we could get the camera angle.

I found this coat hanger we haven’t put up yet, and it worked ok, but I now faced two problems.

  • One: I could spread the chairs wide enough because the coat hanger wasn’t long enough (problem for post-production Adam).
  • Two: the weight of the camera was just making it topple over.

Luckily I had some bungee cord tucked away in the mess where I know where everything is. I tied the bungee cord around the coat hanger and attached it to our jar of pecans which was JUST heavy enough to counter the forward weight of the camera! That’s it! I was set to take the picture!

A little bit of light painting with an LED torch, masking, toning, and VOILA. No tripod needed here!

Here is the SOOC photo, you can see the finished photoshopped version on the top of the post.

Would it have been easier to go down and get it? Yes… Would I probably go down and get it next time? Probably not.

Moral of the story, always have some bungee cords lying around.

About the Author

Adam Frimer is a photographer and a filmaker based in Israel. You can see more of his work on his Instagram.

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12 responses to “No tripod? No problem – A lazy approach to overhead photography”

  1. Wendy Johnson Avatar
    Wendy Johnson

    After reading the effort it took to set this up, I think I’ll stick with my overrated tripod ?

  2. Dunja Đuđić Avatar
    Dunja Đuđić

    Hahaha oh my god, this is totally me! It would probably be easier to just go out there and pick up what you need – but no, I’d rather mess with the stuff I have lying around the house. But this is when the creativity grows. ;)
    And since projects like this usually take a lot more time than going out and taking what you need, I suppose we’re not actually lazy. We’re creative. :D

  3. wahwahtremelo Avatar
    wahwahtremelo

    Moral of the story is ‘use what you got on hand’…awesomeness.

  4. Gvido Mūrnieks Avatar
    Gvido Mūrnieks

    I did something similar for overhead portrait. I used stepladder, to witch I horizontally attached(with gafer tape) a plank and camera to it. It was very convenient, because model could freely move around, without trying to squeeze under tripod.

  5. Kevin Blackburn Avatar
    Kevin Blackburn

    No offense but that looks like allot more work than just walking to the car and getting my tripod out. Just saying :-) Oh and Plus you have the benefit of the additional exercise

    1. Gvido Mūrnieks Avatar
      Gvido Mūrnieks

      Tripods suck for most of overhead shots, even with reversible column, because it is rather hard to work under the three angled legs of tripod.

      1. Kevin Blackburn Avatar
        Kevin Blackburn

        Funny never had that issue myself but then again…

  6. KNIGHTFALLx Avatar
    KNIGHTFALLx

    Or you could take the legs off the table first.

  7. Jake Engel Avatar
    Jake Engel

    Top-down is an area that consumer gear just hasn’t gotten right yet. Those horizontal booms for tripods are awful. There’s just no good solution without a proper (gigantic) camera stand. I’d go for something like this over a tripod any day.

  8. Petar Maksimovic Avatar
    Petar Maksimovic

    Someone buy that man a Hama tripod! :D

  9. Adrian Gordon Avatar
    Adrian Gordon

    This should be added to shittyrigs.com

  10. Police: StartChargingDrivers Avatar
    Police: StartChargingDrivers

    Did you leave your reflectors in the car too?
    The lighting is terrible.