Large format and the pontoon boat
I took a wonderful pontoon boat ride into some very secluded backwaters the other day. No way to access by car or foot. Water is too deep to stand in the water to shoot. So here is the question, what are the odds I can successfully capture LF images staged from a pontoon boat. Typical exposures would likely be 1/8 sec to several sec.
Before you go into the obvious, I realize boats move, sway etc. Just wondering if it’s been done and or how. Any tips?
This is truly an untapped area and I would love to capture it for others to enjoy.
Is the water too deep to stand a big tripod, or some other type of camera stand, in? Do a little piling operation or make a small-scale jack-up rig? Depends on how serious you are. Add jacks, or equivalent, to the pontoon? You don't need to lift the pontoon out of the water like a full-on jack-up rig, just stabilise the pontoon to the bed. If you drop a punt or scaffold pole into the bed does it stick firmly? How easy would it be to lash or clamp two, three or four poles to the gunwhale or a cross-pole?
Yep.. classic use of legs: groovy
or, a gyro stailizer
but when you resort to electric, you're halfway to digital....
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
How much is the water moving? I mean, it would seem that if the water is still, then you should be able to shoot just fine.
The water looked too deep for my tripods. I am guessing 6’. I would a 12’ tripod! Stabilizing the boat might be tough. I could place something like aluminum dock legs in the water. They can have a screw type device on the bottom that I could auger in. While that may stabilize side to side movement, id wouldn’t do much for up and down motion.
Originally Posted by Helen B
I’ve never used a “gyro stabilizer” is that a real option? Would it create it’s own vibrations to contend with? Sounds pricy.
Originally Posted by df cardwell
The water seemed quite calm, but I wasn’t paying much attention to flow. My guess is it’s quite slow.
Originally Posted by colrehogan
I do quite a bit of shooting in rivers, most moving quite rapidly, never had a problem there, but I was only hip deep. This is a different kind of deal. The vistas I would want to capture would require that I am somewhat elevated. The pontoon height looked about right.
What about a 12’ ladder sunk well in the river bed?
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I like low tech solutions
Since you're working in "secluded backwaters" I'm assuming the only waves you'll worry about are those generated by yourself and what you're looking for is a stable platform. How about heavy weights (like buckets / bags of rocks) which get tossed off the boat from the the front and back of each pontoon. Then you would tie the ropes to the weights really snug so the pontoons get pulled, or settled into the water.
While not rock solid, it would be easily moveable and steady enough if you don't bring a fidgety bull mastif with you.
You can use what Gordon Hutchings (of pmk fame) does. He has a "cherry picker" ladder (three legs) with a quick release head on top.
The soul never thinks without an image.
"Stabilizing the boat might be tough. I could place something like aluminum dock legs in the water. They can have a screw type device on the bottom that I could auger in. While that may stabilize side to side movement, id wouldn’t do much for up and down motion."
I envisaged taking some of the pontoon's weight on the legs to stop the vertical motion. If the augers are well fixed in the bottom you could try doing it the other way and hold the boat down with them but I would have thought that using them as support was more likely to succeed.
Though interesting, the problem I see with a gyro is framing and focussing an 8x10 - apart from the fact that they aren't rock solid enough for an exposure of a few seconds. You are likely to lose critical sharpness.
Murray's idea could be the answer. However, you might be surprised how heavy a weight you would need to prevent motion of the boat. A gentle one-inch high wave could produce about 100 to 150 lbs of uplift on a 5' wide boat. Scrap steel would be slightly better value than rocks because most rock has a comparatively low density, so it 'loses' more of its weight when in water. 100 lbs of tension in a vertical cable would require at least 150 lbs of submerged rocks in comparison to 114 lbs of submerged steel.
If the bottom is flat and firm enough, a channel-section ladder could be a suitable camera stand - but a three legged ladder would be better than four.
Could you adapt your existing tripod with scaffold poles or pipe to make the legs longer?
What about a Clyde Butcher-type stepladder? No use to me as the fjord here is 300m deep, but an intriguing idea for shallower waters
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
I don't have a solution, but I have a similar problem... I live on the Yeopim Creek here in coastal North Carolina and the wetlands are breath taking. I have a sport fishing boat and I am trying to figure how to do the same thing. I am a
tri-x user and as such, I have gotten some credible 35mm handheld shots at a 60th of second, but that puts me in the F8-F11 in early evening or late morning. I have thought about putting out 2 anchors (bow & stern) on a really still morning or evening and then set my Bogen 3030 on deck with either my Hassy or my 4X5. I am interested in other ideas. Standing int he water here is possible but a little risky inasmuch as we have cotton Mouth water moccassins... They have tendency to be unfriendly when their territories are invaded.
Often wrong, but never in doubt!