Get creative angles to shoot for only $16!

on August 5, 2014

This quick and simple hack is so easy, I don’t know why more photographers know of it. THe basic premise is simple. To get creative angles for your shoot, you have to think past the tripod. You have to think past the slider, and the stabilizer. Once you start thinking of your monopod as a job arm, you’re getting closer. It’s the overhead shot, and for something so simple and used so frequently in movies, it’s a pain in the ass to set up.

The reason is simple: it’s a single purpose setup, and making even the smallest adjustments take longer than they should because of it’s awkward placement. If you are doing an overhead shot, it’s also imperative that you have a rotating LCD screen or external monitors, otherwise your shooting blind.
Most of the time, you’re setting up c stands to get high enough to get the angle, but even then, you can’t go too wide because you’ll get the base of your stand in the shot.

If you’re shooting in a studio that has lighting rigs, its a little easier, but a lot of the time, we don’t have this luxury.

Enter the 99 cent clamp. THese clamps always come in handy, and I always lose them, so every time I find myself at home depot, i just pick up a handful in different sizes and throw them in my grip bag.

This time, however, I noticed that the largest one- the .99 one- had a little hole in it on each side of the clamp. I took a 1/4-20 screw and found that it fit perfectly right through it, as long as I tightened it down with a nut on the other end.
My mind started racing.
There are plenty of photo clamps available on the market, and they’ve always struck me as overpriced for what they ACTUALLY do. Here was a tough as nails metal clamp that i could attach a tripod mounting screw to for less than a dollar.

I then started playing around with attaching a ball head on it, maybe using it to mount flashes on out of the way places.
Then I looked around on my shelf and I saw it:
The Magic Arm.
I love these. They are a great way to mount just about anything to just about anything. Most people use them as a monitor mount or an LED light mount. I like to put a shockmount on it and use it to attach a shotgun mic. It gets the mic off the camera for less camera noise, and I can direct it right at the talent.

But then I put the two of these together.
This is a seriously inexpensive solution to so many problems.
Before we go any further- I want to preface this by saying that I would be very cautious mounting a full size DSLR to anything with this clamp. When rigging ANY camera overhead where it might cause injury, ALWAYS secure your gear with a cable. No shot is worth risking injury to other people, not to mention your gear.

But for mirrorless cameras and micro four thirds- this thing works like a champ. You can clamp it onto a shelf or an overhead pipe to get your camera high.
I also love this setup for timelapse using an iphone. Get a phone clamp adapter, put it on a ballhead and screw it onto your clamp. The natural wide angle of most cellphones make them perfect for mounting near a corner, like where the ceiling and a wall meet.

So next time you are itching to get some new gear to get creative with your shots, try a quick trip to your local hardware store first.