Client Photography Tip – A Tripod “To Go”!

Richard Kinsinger and his wife Bobbie recently returned from their ADS safari adventure in May.  Prior to leaving for their safari, Richard had indicated he was a serious photographer and asked me if I would recommend bringing along a tripod.  I shared with him my own experience, that I had not personally found a tripod very useful because of it’s inherently immobile nature.  Most of safari photography tends to be focused on wild animals of course, which are moving targets and which need to be photographed from the safety of a vehicle.  But Richard was determined to find a way to steady his camera anyway, and came up with a very ingenious camera mounting system that we’d like to share with you here!  The following explanation features Richard’s description of his camera mounting system and a few accompanying photographs to help illustrate. A big THANK YOU to Richard and Bobbie for sharing their clever idea with us here!

“The pipe clamp arrangement for camera support really worked great. I carried two pieces in my camera case – a screw-tightened pipe clamp fitted with a 3/8-inch tripod thread, and a standard tripod ball head with quick-release camera mount. In the car I fixed these two pieces together and clamped the combination to the roof rail on either side of the roof opening. Each camera lens was fitted with a tripod ring and quick-release plate, so it was a quick operation to mount the camera with any lens to the roof. As long as Reggie turned off the car engine this provided a very stable camera mount. And the ball head allowed me to pan and tilt for repointing and video work. The simple pipe clamp allowed me to switch to the opposite side of the car when the action changed.  The clamp part is here:

I used a Manfrotto 035 clamp with a 3-8ths mounting screw (tripod standard) at about $40, but any clamp for mounting lighting fixtures could be adapted. The tripod ball head is here:

Again I used a Manfrotto product, MH054M0, but all tripod manufacturers have similar products. The base of this unit has a female 3-8ths socket to receive the mounting screw from the clamp. The main ball head knob loosens (or tightens) the ball socket which then rotates freely in any direction. The unit at the top is a Manfrotto quick-release clamp which gave me quick fastening or unfastening of my camera from the car roof. The clamp and ball head together are shown here:

And the whole system mounted from a pipe standing in for the Land Cruiser roof rail is here:

The height of the system was perfect for me (6 ft 2 in) standing on the car floor, but a shorter person would probably need to stand on a car seat. Mounting or dismounting the camera from the rig was a one-second operation. Switching the rig from one side of the car to the other was 10-15 seconds. With the car engine off this was a very steady camera mount. Reggie and I had a standing challenge to do an inventory of giraffe eyelashes.

In the full resolution version of this shot you can count 235 long lashes on this tall Tanzanian beauty – even before she put on her mascara.”

Rich Kinsinger





3 Responses to Client Photography Tip – A Tripod “To Go”!

  1. Roger Hutchinson says:

    Great tips for a tripod mounting. My safari with ADS is coming up in 2 months and was just researching various options. I am by no means a professional photographer but would like to get the best possible pictures.

  2. Elliott Hillback says:

    My easy kit to shoot while standing in ADS vehicles (two trips and 20,000 photos later) is a “ground pod” from Kirk Enterprises and a Wimberley Head (or a sturdy ballhead and a Wimberley Sidekick). I leave my Nikon with a 200-400 lens mounted on ths compact combo all day. When travelling it is strapped on a seat, but stopped I set it on the edge of the roof of the vehicle with the front (1 inch) rubber legs hooked over the rail. Head pivots up, down and sideways in one motion allowing easy tracking of moving subjects. Total is light (relatively) and packable and very stable to use for long periods since the gimble head supports the total weight of the camera/lens. Simple ane works really well. [Attn. Michael -- working on timing for our third trip!!!!]

    • Michael says:

      Jambo Elliott!

      That sounds like a great set up too. You certainly took some awesome shots on your 1st safari and that’s proof enough. I still don’t think I ever saw any photos from trip 2! Glad to hear you are thinking of coming back for another adventure.

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