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Thread: Cartop tent as platform for field work?

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Austin TX
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    Re: Cartop tent as platform for field work?

    Naw, bad idea with some exceptions. When I first started in LF I camped with my dad using a custom cartop tent on a platform not unlike the one you're considering. I saw a photo of AA SUV cartop rig and realized the advantage of height. When I tried to take images with my first Linhof the slightest movement by me or the breezes caused frustration for any kind of long exposures. I quickly gave it up. But with a very stabile vehicle or some kind of bracing to remove weight from the springs and tires this might be feasible. I don't quite understand how Ansel was able to be successful using the technique though. I think it would be a hassle.

    Nate Potter

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Melbourne Australia
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    141

    Re: Cartop tent as platform for field work?

    Over 20 years ago I built a square tubular steel roof rack on the front (cabin) section of our small campervan. The intention was twofold, one, to enable some bulky items, like chairs etcetera to be carried without cluttering up the small interior space, two, it would enable me to get just above the scrub which would enable some better landscape pictures.

    Well it works a treat if the wind isn't blowing, breezes much above a zephyr will rock the vehicle ever so slightly. This does limit shutter speed somewhat, however I would suggest you do get your rooftop platform, the plus side outweighs the minus side by a fair margin.

    Mick.

  3. #13
    Hopelessly Lost
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    Dec 2006
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    Nashville
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    408

    Re: Cartop tent as platform for field work?

    How about this...

    http://www.jumpingjacktrailers.com/

    Not too high but could be useful nonetheless.

  4. #14
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
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    Re: Cartop tent as platform for field work?

    How about a Luksa high-extension tripod (two models: 30 foot and 40 foot) used in conjunction with a vehicle-mounted platform (or, a tree stand)? Add some guy wires to stabilize the head, and you're flyin' high.

    http://www.luksa.com/hiview.html
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Luksa-anim2.gif  

  5. #15
    jetcode
    Guest

    Re: Cartop tent as platform for field work?

    I had a chance to buy a truck with a lift like they use for telephone work for $2500. I didn't know where to park it but it seemed like a good idea. I have a Westfalia and I would like to know how to get on top for some elevated photographs. There must be something that would work; racks, grated platform, something.

  6. #16
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Cartop tent as platform for field work?

    Gordon Hutchins solved this problem with an "orchard ladder" with a tripod head mounted on the top. It worked well even for 8x10. Here is a version of one:

    http://www.tallmanladders.com/astronomer.html
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    "When did photography become a desk job?" Kirk Gittings 2009

    KIRK GITTINGS
    WEBSITE

    LIGHT+SPACE+STRUCTURE (blog)

  7. #17

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    Re: Cartop tent as platform for field work?

    I thought about that Kirk but it's hard to get to the controls of a 450mm while on the back of the ladder. Thanks for the link.

  8. #18
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Cartop tent as platform for field work?

    Vinny, I have a somewhat similar tall tripod setup. I have been doing this little trick to solve the problem you mentioned for 30 years>>>

    The panorama base of my tripod head has a dial with incremental marks on it and an arrow marker. After I focus and compose, I note the location of the arrow in relation to the dial marks, loosen that panorama lever, spin the camera around facing me, set the shutter speed, aperture, cock the shutter etc., spin the camera back around to the registration point, lock it down, insert the film holder and shoot. Did that make sense? Works like a charm for me. I use it often with architecture.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    "When did photography become a desk job?" Kirk Gittings 2009

    KIRK GITTINGS
    WEBSITE

    LIGHT+SPACE+STRUCTURE (blog)

  9. #19

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    9,477

    Re: Cartop tent as platform for field work?

    I think the bed of a pick up is nice for getting just a couple of feet, because you can splay the tripod feet into the corners and they're not so high as to unstable. I've climbed directly onto the roof of my Xterra several times to get a shot - nothing extra needed, just be careful and walk gingerly so you don't dent the roof or steady yourself on the roof rack -- it'll hold my 220# no problem. It seems like it works better with handheld shots so your elastic body becomes the vibration buffer.

    Another trick with the tall tripods, like the various Gitzo 504s and 513s I've lugged around, is to set up at normal height, guess at the focus and movements, noting as precisely as possible where to aim everything, and then hoist things up high all cocked and loaded and fire one off using a long cable release. It's a what the hell sort of thing to do, but it usually works.

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