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Old August 9th, 2014, 08:03 AM   #1
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Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

Hi Guys

Probably the most frequent rant here is that the photog blocked my shot or the guests blocked me.

I often use footage from my GoPro on a lightstand and 99% of the time the shot is perfectly clear! However it does have the limitations of the format and lens so why can't we go up instead of fighting the crowd at ground level with our pro cameras too?

Maybe a little tower instead of the usual tripod? ..It wouldn't be hard to make and all you need is to be just a few inches above the tallest guy and you would always have a clear shot. Granted, all shots would be a bit high angle but I wouldn't think that it would change too much I normally have my camera at around face level which is at least 5' 6" or more so shooting at say 6'6" is only 12" higher and you are unlikely to get blocked and the downward tilt of the camera would be minimal really. Gosh even an extended tripod by another 18" would work a treat as long as you could make a clever little stand for yourself and the tripod which would raise you up just enough to never be blocked by the guests with phones and tablets and the three professional photogs dancing around the bride constantly!

Is there really any reason why our main camera cannot go just 12" higher than the normal tripod will allow. It would certainly solve all the issues with having a fat backside stuck in your lens hood. Sure, the pesky photogs would still be in your shot BUT they would never block it would they.

Instead of ranting about guests and photogs is there any reason why we could not simply go over their heads??

Any comments?

Chris
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Old August 9th, 2014, 08:41 AM   #2
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

We have done for years. When the going gets tough we stick a camera on a manfrotto monopod held high in the air. The feet sit on my belt buckle and anchor it nicely. I then have two hands to hold is securely. Obviously it's better with a camera with IS and does't lend itself to DSLRs at all. This also works if you're stood in the side aisle (second shooter) since you can get an alternative (side) video for the bride walking down the main aisle if the photographer is blocking front or back cameras. Also a great alternative view for confetti, looking over people's head while they are crowded round the couple throwing.

In venues where we have even the slightest possibility to use it we have a camera on top of a manfrotto 058B. That sucker goes about 8 feet high and no one blocks your view.
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Old August 9th, 2014, 09:07 AM   #3
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

Thanks Dave

I was actually thinking why I cannot lift my main camera upwards ..it needs a stable platform as it's often doing it's own thing but does need to be checked now and again. I got so tired with shooting camera 1 on the edge of the aisle that I try to shoot from the side of the ceremony that would favour the bride's face but you always get a photog blocking the shot so I figured he is not going to move so rather leave him in the shot BUT go up a couple of feet. A tight shot of the couple is absolutely ruined if the photog comes between you and the couple if your camera is at around face level ...however go up 18" and you get a way better shot (still with the photog in shot) but at least not blocking the shot except with his head.

So far the best I have seen to two aluminium painter's platforms (I have one ATM) joined with a sheet of plywood to make a decent base you can hop onto and position usually at the right of the pews. These have a black cloth draped over them to make them look professional and lifts you up almost 2' which is more than enough to get over even guests standing up.

My plan is to not rely so much on the GoPro when I get blocked as I would have the main cam elevated too. I'm really getting tired of getting blocked. I would rather be 2' off the ground and drop the tripod a bit if there is no blocking invisaged but at least if you need to go up, you can.

Just for interest how high do you reckon one could raise the cam if it's on a tight shot of the couple/priest so it doesn't look like it has been shot from the ceiling???
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Old August 9th, 2014, 09:42 AM   #4
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

Two of our Manfrotto tripods we chose specifically because they can get the camera above head level. There are times when that won't matter, though. For instance, it's common for the bride and groom to be up on 1-3 steps for the vows... if the wedding party is also up, and they're blocking the view, there's nothing we can do, unless we were using a drone from an overhead shot :)
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Old August 9th, 2014, 09:54 AM   #5
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

I often see other videographers here use just a small monopod with a DSLR and the flip out LCD screen to monitor. It is held like 3 ft. above heads especially in circle dances. I myself don't use any of that, as if the photog gets in the frame more than twice, I leave him in there afterwards for the bride to see what an incompetent and inconsiderate
a#$%&le she hired.
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Old August 9th, 2014, 10:41 AM   #6
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

Well as you are aware, Chris, I think going up can often be helpful, but it does create other challenges at times depending on how it's done.

The camera on monopod technique does need practice (and occasionally some stabilisation in post!) but wide shots are fairy easy to master. For lengthy use, a small battery powered monitor clamped to the monopod at a convenient height avoids stiff necks and errant horizons and if LANC control is not available then camcorder remote controls can be surprisingly useful - especially if adapted with light pipes or as in this brilliant post by Chris Soucy many moons ago.

Avoiding light fittings and ceiling fans when operating indoors is of course strongly recommended. :-)
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Old August 9th, 2014, 10:59 AM   #7
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
So far the best I have seen to two aluminium painter's platforms (I have one ATM) joined with a sheet of plywood to make a decent base you can hop onto and position usually at the right of the pews. These have a black cloth draped over them to make them look professional and lifts you up almost 2' which is more than enough to get over even guests standing up.
I can't think of a single wedding I've done in the last couple of years where I would have had room to install a platform, let alone the time / effort required in hauling it in and setting it up.
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Old August 9th, 2014, 04:10 PM   #8
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

When buying a tripod/monopod, IMO one of the first considerations should be "max height"... Tall tripods may cost a little bit more, and weigh a bit more to load in and out, but the advantage is obvious.

Sunpak/Quantaray make a 75" model - the legs are pretty good, the head is easily replaced with one that doesn't suck (the included one is barely suitable for "locked down", as any move is clunky/sticky) - you could probably even squeeze a little more height with moving the legs in a bit. That one will get over the heads of most everyone but Herman Munster (and my nephews... "kids" now days!)... and not much larger footprint than any other tripod.

Same goes for monopods - the 561/562 Bogen with the little feet is also 75" IIRC... I just upgraded to the 72" Sirui, and once a head is added, plenty of height. OR use the belt trick with a shorter monopod, though I find I'm too wobbly for that... but you could even plant the monopod on a pew bench and get enough height for most situations.

There aren't many tripods/monopods that are designed to go above 6 foot or so, but they are well worth seeking out for "event" work where being "above the crowd" is handy. Use a LANC or wireless remote, and most times you can see the LCD "OK".

Since most times the front platform is elevated, all one really needs is to be able to get a "little" more elevation... of course now you have people sticking their phones and tablets up at arms length so THEY can get a shot, so even there, you "can" end up blocked... oh the trials this new tech has brought along with all the handy stuff!!
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Old August 9th, 2014, 04:31 PM   #9
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

I have a Bogen (Manfrotto) 3246. It's a center column tripod and had the extension legs. If I used the column and all of the length of the legs I could get the mounting plate 8 feet in the air. Believe me I used it on occasion. That camera NEVER got blocked. Generally it was a lock down shot but every once in a while my A camera would be on it but only if the tilting and panning were going to held to a minimum. After all the only way I could get to the head was with a step ladder but I say again, it never got blocked! NEVER! ;-)
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Old August 9th, 2014, 05:03 PM   #10
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

I remember now discussing tall tripods before on this thread. The pictures in post #6 might be the same tripod as your Manfrotto, Don though it's not shown clearly (blame the missus).
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Old August 9th, 2014, 06:31 PM   #11
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

Colin, it not quite the same on but close. The 3246 doesn't have the adjustable spreader like the one in the picture. The spreader is 2 flat pieces of metal per leg, going from the center collar on the column to the legs. Either way, not quite as sturdy as I would care for it but when you need the height and don't have a boom, it's a good way to go. The big problem was the footprint it takes up. Pretty big.
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Old August 9th, 2014, 08:05 PM   #12
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

Thanks Guys

Again I do need to be specific here and explain that I don't want any way to get the B-Cam elevated ..that's easy as it's on my shoulder and if need be I can simply extend my arms up or climb on a pew (if I can get away with it)

What I want to be able to do is lift the base height of my A-Camera that stays in one spot thruout the ceremony and is more than often a tight shot of the priest, bride and groom and runs all the wireless audio too. The issue here is not trying to get a "taller" tripod at all but simply trying to get the camera just that bit higher so if it gets blocked it can "see" over the photogs head rather than just looking at the back of his head. I always have the GoPro a good 8' up and shooting wide to create a safety shot.

What I'm really looking for is :
(1) A static base for the A-Camera that I can leave alone (so a monopod is out!)
(2) A riser of some sort so the footprint of the tripod stays the same

We all know the restrictions within a Church but luckily these are getting fewer and fewer here... anyone own or built a neat tripod riser? It would be so much easier at a civil ceremony to put the camera behind the back row of chairs and have it so we can "see" over the people.

Chris
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Old August 10th, 2014, 05:21 AM   #13
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

The problem with centre column tripods is that you have to adjust each leg independently to get level - a nightmare in a fast paced wedding situation compared to a ball levelling head. Both my B cams during a ceremony and speeches are usually high enough so they can't be blocked and If my main cam gets blocked I can usually just move around it - I don't really let it bother me.

For a packed dance floor you can't beat a GoPro with a light on the end of a fully extended monopod held high over the throng - I run a cable to a small Marshall monitor - can be very effective!

Pete
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Old August 10th, 2014, 06:40 AM   #14
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

Hi Pete

Thanks for that! I wasn't considering a centre column tripod at all actually. and a big tripod alone also has a big footprint! I was looking at a portable riser that would sit on the floor and have a base about 2' higher than floor level. I then put my tripod on the riser and level is not an issue with a bowl tripod anyway ...it's nice and stable as the tripod only is extended half way as it would be on a floor BUT it's an extra 2' up...In and around supermarkets I have seen a neat little plastic unit (sorta looks like an upside down yellow bucket) that staff use to get to the top shelves and it's on castors too!! I don't want a higher tripod at all I just want my tripod higher!!

Chris
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Old August 10th, 2014, 10:32 AM   #15
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Re: Blocked Shots - Why can't we go up?

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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
Hi Pete

Thanks for that! I wasn't considering a centre column tripod at all actually. and a big tripod alone also has a big footprint! I was looking at a portable riser that would sit on the floor and have a base about 2' higher than floor level. I then put my tripod on the riser and level is not an issue with a bowl tripod anyway ...it's nice and stable as the tripod only is extended half way as it would be on a floor BUT it's an extra 2' up...In and around supermarkets I have seen a neat little plastic unit (sorta looks like an upside down yellow bucket) that staff use to get to the top shelves and it's on castors too!! I don't want a higher tripod at all I just want my tripod higher!!

Chris
Does your tripod fit on these yellow buckets? Is it going to be stable?
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