Chase Jarvis TECH: POV Photography

The Backstory
Innovation is key to making visible, recognizable images.

And there’s almost always an option to photograph something from a cool angle or a unique perspective. One of my favorite techniques to take advantage of this involves creating killer point-of-view (POV) images. While the thought of strapping a large, expensive camera to a model, your buddy, a bike, car, etc, may seem like nothing more than a good way to break some gear, this 1 min 49 sec video called Chase Jarvis TECH: POV Photography outlines how it’s really quite simple. Watch:

The Video


Video Stills to Help Illustrate Some Details

This image below features a decent shot of the Magic Arm attached to the bike handlebars on one end and the camera on the other, with a Pocket Wizard receiver and cord taped to the Magic Arm in the middle. The camera is facing forward in order to shoot nearby moving bikers at close range:

This image below highlights the same camera contraption just pointed back toward the rider:

This image below shows another option for using the Superclamp and Magic Arm combo for dropping the camera off the lower tube on the bike frame. Make sure your biker knows how to ride well:

This image below shows our customized chest POV setup. We’ve had a cobbler (that’s right, guy who works on shoes) sew nylon climbing webbing and plastic rings to a neoprene Op/Tech DSLR sleeve and then, using a LowePro harness we’ve affixed the camera to the subjects chest. You can see the Pocket Wizard receiver and cord gaffed to the rigging.

Shopping List
And finally, in case you missed it on screen, here’s a list of items from the video and their approximate costs when purchased online:

Bogen 2915 Super Clamp – $25
Bogen 2929 Magic Arm w/ 2933 Camera Platform – $107
Pocket Wizard reciever – $188
Pocket Wizard transmitter – $188
Pocket Wizard PreTrigger N90M3-P for Nikon – $139
Motorola radio set – $200
Gaffer tape – $12
Op/tech neoprene camera sleeve – $133
Lowepro harness – $10
Nikkor 12-24mm f4 lens – $895
Nikon D2Xs camera body – $4356

(keep in mind that if you don’t want to throw down to purchase these things, that your local pro camera store likely rents all of these items!)

BTW this post was inspired by a comment from reader “DJ” on the Chase Jarvis RAW: New Zealand Spring video post: “Chase, I’d love to see the bike tripod/camera attachment thingy closer. That looked very cool.” In addition to it calling us to action to produce a little video on this topic, it spawned a larger initiative to create yet another concept that is the kissing cousin to Chase Jarvis RAW, and Chase Jarvis FRAMES… From here on out, these photo nerdy, techie ones will be called Chase Jarvis TECH.

Point: Keep sending in your comments and further ideas of what you want to see. I don’t do all that many photo tips, but overall your feedback and direction helps shape this blog and make it a worthwhile community.

Other Vids
[Chase Jarvis TECH: Photography Laptop Case (aka Pimp your Laptop Case)]
[Chase Jarvis RAW: New Zealand Spring]
[Chase Jarvis RAW: Ninjas]
[Chase Jarvis FRAMES: Hasselblad Masters]

Of course, if you have further questions or, better yet, have knowledge or points to add to the discussion, please do so in the comments section below. Let’s make this a great little resource/reference for POV stuff!

Depending on your RSS Reader you may want to watch the Chase Jarvis TECH: POV Photography vid clip here.

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Excellent!i like the bike than the Camera.

Hi there,

Trying to track down that op-tech neoprene and the harness but i can’t seem to find a sleeve with a hole for the lenses and a harness without the chest pouch.

Thanks!
R.

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Pam says:

Hi Chase,

Thanks for the vid. Very inspiring. I love rollercoasters and would love to get a pov shot. But I don't want to lose my gear! Do you know of a rig that could withstand the g-forces involved?

Thanks!

Pam

Nicko says:

Hi Chase, really nice and educational video, I hope to try it some day. I have a question about a kind of POV photography, I have been asked to take photos of a couple of friends’ cars. And I think it is really cool when you connect the camera on a tripod in the car, drive through the tunnel during the night and use a long shutter speed. So my question is, do you know if there is any reasonable priced kits for this or do you need to pay pretty much to get this kind of photos.

And keep working, your photos are stunning.

Chase Jarvis says:

mathieu: i pre-focus and tape the focus ring using gaffers tape so it does not move. i usually shoot with low shutter speeds, allowing for great DOF.

Mathieu says:

Hi Chase,

On a rig such as the camera on magic arm attached to the handle bars (looking forward), would you mind telling us a bit more about focus/DOF and how you manage to 1) set the focus point while in movement 2) make sure you have enough DOF so that all subjects are in focus? Do you carry DOF tables with you?
Thanks again for sharing.

Mathieu

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Chase Jarvis says:

@ david: you should be able to track down this sort of stuff from any high end grip and lighting store. think film/video, rather than photo.

good luck!

David Cartier says:

G’day Chase,

After looking everywhere on the internet and not finding the answer for my question I must turn to you. I hope this comes handy to other photographers. I’ve bee looking for camera tracking rigs such as this one. (www.bluefish.com.au once you entered the site click on “science”then go to facilities then “tracking rig”.

big thanks all the way from Australia

David Cartier
davidcartier@mail.com

fixup says:

Chase, I have linked to the picture of your chest/camera harness thingy here and have included a link to your blog.

Hope you don’t mind.

Cody H. says:

@ gooddaysir914
Yes, that method would work for that video camera depending on the conditions. Of course you’re going to get vibrations but it might be a cool treatment as well. Test it and tell us how it went!

Cody

Thank you for posting this video/information.

Question for anyone who can help:

Do you think it would be possible to use this setup with a camcorder rather than a SLR? I’m worried the vibrations might ruin any footage. I would be riding the bicycle fairly slowly (no more than 25 mph) and on normal road conditions (pavement). Does anyone have any experience regarding this? For the record I’m using a Canon HV30 High-Def Camcorder.

Thank you for any information.

Take care,

Mark

Mr Din says:

thank you for sharing… so far I was struggling with a gorilla pod to fix my camera on the bike… I guess I new some more gear, thank you for the references!!! :D

that’s nice you share all this little tips, I’ll chase my wife to have her sew me a chest harness, it will be less harmful than carrying my wife on my back when shooting spinning kids! :D

Skunkabilly says:

Hi Scott,

Thanks for the reply. My dad (the electrician in the household) rigged one up using the MC-DC1, or whatever the D80 cable is, and a mini-plug from Radio Shack. I think the whole thing cost about $28.

I’ll ask him the details, but we are able to use the cable release lock as the pre-trigger.

Scott R. says:

Jeff: We don’t know of a way to get the PW’s to trigger the remote camera without the 10-pin cable. There may be a way out there, and if you find it feel free to pass it along. Thanks!

Skunkabilly says:

Hello Chase & crew,

Is there a way to rig up a D80, D90, etc. (i.e. Nikon without the 10-pin) for remote work with the PocketWizards? The Nikon IR remote leaves much to be desired.

Thank you!

Jeff

Chase – thought you’d like to see your inspiration at work!

http://www.flickr.com/groups/strobist/discuss/72157607111423973/

Regards,
Jonathan

Scott R. says:

Adam,

We’ve gotten good results on bikes and cars with a combination of some really good torque on the magic arm knob, and some gaffers tape to keep anything from rotating. Also using some tape or rubber between the super clamps and the area being clamped keeps the whole assembly from slipping. There is also strategy in terms of the angles of the magic arm and mounting points. I’d be happy to hear other ideas as well!

I’ve used my magic arm on my motorcycle before and after a little bit of moving and vibration the locks always seem to loosen up the magic arm turns into a rag doll. Anyone else had this problem, or even better yet have a solution for it… Chase maybe you perhaps???

Chase Jarvis says:

I had some plastic D clips sewn to the sleeve (by a pro seamstress) using some nylon webbing. Cost = $20

rB says:

Chase, how did you attach the harness to the camera sleeve? Can’ tell from the image and need to shoot something like else. Thanks in advance.

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Josh Cole says:

Wow, great info you shared. Thanks a ton for giving a peek behind the curtain. Always great.

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Ken says:

Hi Chase,

I love these vids! I’ve watched 3 of them already and will probably watch all of them. Thanks for putting these up and keep ‘em coming!

Ken

Jan says:

Thank you Chase!

Thomas Kjær says:

Way cool stuff, thanks for sharing Chase!

Chase Jarvis says:

Jan: its a Lowe Pro chest harness from one of their bags that rides in front like one of those baby bjorn thingies ;)

Chase Jarvis says:

We got it at glazerscamera.com and had a professional cobbler (shoe repair) guy sew on some cheap nylon webbing (from REI) and some plastic clips (also from REI). I’d think that you could use any similar sleeve, but the optecs one worked great!

Taylor says:

Thanks for the video – it’s awesome.

I can’t seem to find the Op/tech neoprene camera sleeve. Did you have to modify a regular case for this?

James

Jan says:

Chase, great tips, thanks for sharing!

I was unable to find standalone Lowepro harness. Are you using harness from Lowepro Backpack Harness?

Chase Jarvis says:

Ryan: camera is on manual focus, prefocused and gaffer taped in place.

looking forward to meeting you in ATL – please introduce yourself if we cross paths!

Ryno says:

Very cool. How do you set the camera up in terms of focusing?? Do you use auto focus at all or keep the camera in manual focus??

p.s. I am coming to the ATL “on the road” seminar, looking forward to your presentation…

Chase Jarvis says:

Ryan: you bet. I shoot a lot of running and I have plenty of nice pov shots with the harness…

Ryno says:

Hey Chase,

Very cool stuff…thanks for sharing. Have you (or anyone else reading this) tried shooting with the last setup with the camera sleeve/harness combo while running??

Hey Chase,

Thanks for sharing the video. I don’t do POV shots too often for my type of work, but I love learning new ways of rigging things together. Would love to see more!

Susheel Chandradhas says:

Chase,

Great stuff… It’s great to see how enthusiastic you are about showing the amateur (and some pros) photography community how you get the great shots that you do… I’m sure that there’s a lot more skill, experience, practice, and people skills going on in the background than we get to see, but that said, It’s really nice to have the possibility of interacting with you…

Susheel Chandradhas

Chase Jarvis says:

UPDATE: so I guess in the past few days as a community we’ve bought up all the stock of Magic Arms, Superclamps, and Pocket Wizards at a few of the west coast pro camera stores (names withheld to protect the innocent who didn’t see this coming – I sure didn’t…).

Well it just so happens that Glazer’s Camera. in Seattle just ordered some more and has ‘em in. They’re looking good on all the Bogen stuff. They also have Pocket Wizards although they are moving quickly.

Additionally, if you mention that you heard it here, they tell me they’ll give you 10% off all the Bogen stuff. Link above for the web, phone 206-624-1100.

Frank says:

Sweet, thanks!

Chase Jarvis says:

Frank: will do. I just put it on the list of stuff to post about in the future. Seems like a topic that could be helpful and fun! Thanks for the suggestion…

Frank says:

Hey Chase, great stuff as always! Thanks so much for sharing the behind the scenes action!

Since you kind of opened it up to suggestions, i’d really be interesting in seeing some more about the green screen compositing seen in one of your previous vids. The effects you got look amazing.

Thanks again!

Chase Jarvis says:

Jay: we put these videos together in house using the Final Cut Pro suite. 100% shot, conceptrf, edited, executed, blah, blah, right here.

Chase Jarvis says:

Jacob: I use only manual exposure and determine my exposure prior to pulling the trigger. If the light changes, I change the camera.

Chase Jarvis says:

Friends: sorry for being absent for a couple days – buried in work… That said,

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Adam says:

Thanks for sharing Chase, as a beginner pro I’ve had thoughts of building something like this, but this spells it out in a tried and proven way. Thanks too for all the extra comments here from the other bloggies. I’ve tried to do this on the cheap a few times. Here is a shot that is simply hand held with me riding a bike with my friends practicing that POV. http://www.adamleahyphotography.com/POD/040407.jpg I also experimented with Nikon’s little fob remote, but couldn’t figure out how to stop the camera from sleeping after one shot. You mentioned this as an issue without the cord in your system. I’ll look more into that. Thanks again.

Jacob says:

Chase,

I know you mentioned you like your shutter speeds in the 1/60th – 1/100th category to get that “look”. With a setup like this, do you shoot in a shutter priority mode, or do you meter before and and just leave everything constant, assuming the light won’t change much throughout the short “ride”?

When I was living in Colorado, I took an old film body I had, and drilled a hole through the top of a pair of rock skis (near the front binding). I bolted the camera directly to the ski, and could lean down and trip the shutter button (had a motor winder drive on the camera). Made for some interesting images (98% crap, but the few that worked were cool).

brentj says:

Chase, thanks so much for taking the time to make these videos. Seriously, if I am ever very rich and need to hire a photographer, you will be the first person I call. These are great.

This is incredibly helpful and inspirational. Thanks for sharing this. Now to get out and try something along these lines.

As I always say, I love your videos. They really give an insight into how you work.

Slightly off topic… Who produces these videos and how are they put together?

Blair says:

Thanks for another great post. This really inspired me to try some new things, especially this winter with snowmobiles.

In fact last night I found the video podcast on iTunes and threw all of them on my iPhone where they will stay for on the spot inspiration.

Thanks for the tips in this vid. Will try it for sure.

Out of topic :: what is the music in this video??
It is really good.

Carson Blume says:

Very nice I use a lot of that in my Cycling Photography, you cutting into my field! (joke). As far as Vibration resistance I have never had a problem with it, I use D1s Mark II’s on the back of a motorcycle a lot, I don’t attach them to the Moto, but they get banged around quite a bit, I have broke a few lenses and flashes but never had an issue with a body. I also recommend Really Right stuffs ( http://www.reallyrightstuff.com ) L brackets and for that matter Heads ah hell everything they make is bombproof. The L bracket has saved my camera quite a few times, also unbeatable customer service!

Will says:

Here are some shots of a car camera mount I made to get the shots for this video. It would work perfect for a DSLR, but if we ever decide to put one of our pro cameras up there instead of that cheap handicam I will be building a much more substantial rig.

Chase- thanks for the behind the scenes look, I always enjoy seeing your out of the box approaches.

Anonymous says:

You can find cheaper, reliable Canon and Nikon camera and safety cables at http://nikoncable.com/ by Desert Communications. They have both the pre-trigger cables and the more basic motor drive cables. Often their Pocket Wizard prices are competitive, too.
-Tim Gasperak

Chase Jarvis says:

Ian: now that’s an awesome upgrade. I’ve played with the wireless stuff a little and been disappointed. Is your opinion that it’s bomber?

Weight is an issue, but we could overlook that if the wifi was solid…

Ian says:

Thanks for sharing this!
I’d say the only thing your missing is the WT-2a Wifi adapter.

I use one all the time, for all shooting, sending low rez Jpegs to a laptop. That would sweet to see them come up as you shoot, all though it would add a bit more weight to the set up.

Aaron says:

Excellent! The shots came out great too. Especially the one where the cyclists are sharing the water bottle. I like how you have a third rider far ahead of them. Gives the photo that extra twist which makes it oh so cool. Keep it up man!

Chase Jarvis says:

Ryan: Thanks for posting your link here. Simple, clean. Gracias!!

Since his post is Canon centric, keep in mind for Nikon shooters that you’ll need a fancy $100 chord if you don’t want your camera to go to sleep on you when not in use….

Chase Jarvis says:

Tim/Fred – GREAT feedback. The stiffy you point out should be in everybody’s POV repertoire…

Although it’s worth noting that we’ve typically not had any troubles with the elbow joint unlocking or moving. Any troubles we’ve had usually occur at the superclamp end of things, in attaching to whatever the thing is (bike frame etc)…there’s a lot of torque at that spot when you hang a D2x and a 2.8 lens.

Chase Jarvis says:

Gordon: great pricing update – thank youthankyou!

Chase Jarvis says:

Christopher: We’ve regularly connected my cameras directly to cars 4 inches off the road at 25mph without worry (although this could be ignorance ;). See the very last photo on the video for a sample of that…

If you’re worried about damage to the camera, that’s one thing – no experience with vibration damage. If you’re talking about effecting the picture, that’s all in the shutter speed you choose.

Which brings me to my last point with is this: results vary according to the speed of you subjects, but I really like 1/60th to 1/100th with 1/80th being my general favorite to capture speed and motion with still keeping the right number of items in the frame sharp and the ground or other such key elements whizzing by…

Fred says:

I would second Tim’s comment about the magic arms. The version with the friction knob is superior to the quick release lever. Using the knob you can tighten the arm to the point where there is just enough movement to make fine adjustments to the positioning without the arm “flopping” on you. Because you can tighten the knob as much as you like, the magic arm can hold heavier loads than the quick release lever version as well.

Great video, Chase. Thanks as always for sharing.

Thought some folks would be interested in the post I made about how to trigger a remote camera with a pocket wizard. Canon-centric, but shows how to do it on the cheap (well, once you have the PW).

I liked the “make sure they know how to ride” comment on the setup with the camera mounted low near the side of the wheel… I’d be comfortable with most of the setups but that one may get me a bit on edge! I suppose that’s what insurance is for, right? :)

Anonymous says:

Yo Chase- Nice images. One suggestion: you ought to get the magic arms with the gnurled locking knob rather than the quick release lever. Those quick release levers are shite and come loose a lot. Often we use the gnurled arms as the primary and supplement with a quick release arm to stabilize the primary from a different angle. Rock solid! -Tim Gasperak

Gordon says:

Very cool. Thanks for sharing this. I noticed BHPhoto sells all of this as part of a kit

Magic Arm Kit – consists of: Magic Arm, Camera Platform, Super Clamp, Backlite Base
Mfr# 143 • B&H;# BO143

for $132

christopher says:

thanks for the video!

i’m wondering how vibration-proof todays cams are, though. i’m planning something with motorbikes, and i’m not quite sure it’s safe for the cam to be directly connected to the bike. do you have any experience with this?

Michael Sink says:

Chase,
thanks again, this is quite cool! You contribute so much to this field. thanks again!

mbtwalker says:

Yes,i also think so!

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