I am an active
macrophotographer who is always on the go chasing active subjects.
Very seldom do I have the time or the opportunity to set up a
tripod. The vast majority of my photographs employ the use of
electronic flash. I use a Kirk
Enterprises Macro Flash Bracket to attach the electronic
flash to my camera. With the flash hanging off the end of the
flash arm this setup can be a bit ungainly to maneuver without
adding a bit of shaking on my part. To help me steady my camera
and flash combination I carry a monopod.
monopod is not as steady as a tripod but it is certainly more portable.
I can quickly adjust the length of the monopod to whatever height
I need to photograph my subject and the monopod then bears the weight
of the camera/flash combo. This allows me to concentrate on the
composition and allows for a much steadier hold than handholding
the camera unaided. I can also focus more efficiently, especially
at high magnifications, because the monopod helps steady up my own
body sway that could cause me to constantly bring a subject in and
out of focus.
One of the
challenges to using a monopod is deciding what type of head
to mount on it. Various heads have been designed for monopods
that include tilts and swivels. One company even sells its monopods
with a pan-tilt head. Many photographers mount a small ball
head on the monopod. Is a tripod-like head really necessary?
No. Although more steady than handholding alone, a monopod is
structurally unsound and a rock-solid head mounted on the monopod
is not really necessary. Besides, one of the reasons to purchase
a monopod is for the mobility it offers, so why mount a head
on the monopod that requires the photographer to have to fiddle
with knobs to lock and unlock the head?
What I have
come up with is a simple fork you can make for a few dollars.
The fork is attached to the monopod and the camera lens is then
cradled in the fork. The camera can be turned to any angle needed
for the composition without having to fiddle with locking knobs
and the camera can be taken off the monopod instantly. A simple
fork, also, supports the camera as efficiently as any tripod-like
monopod fork is simplicity itself. You will only need hand tools,
an electric drill, a wrench, and a 1/4" x 20 drill and tap
set. The fork is made from a metal 2.5", 90° angle bracket
you can purchase at any hardware store. I bought a package of 3
angle brackets for US$2.59 from Home Depot. For padding I used narrow
foam weather stripping with an adhesive backing, US$2.57 from Home
Depot. Finally, you will need some black electricians tape to tape
over the foam padding. That's all.
by using the drill bit from the 1/4" x 20 drill and tap set
to drill a hole through the elbow of the angle bracket. Be sure
to drill this hole square to the elbow. Next, using the tap from
the 1/4" x 20 drill and tap set, tap threads in the hole
you just drilled. Use the wrench to turn the tap slowly and back
the tap out of the hole occasionally to allow the metal chips
to fall out of the threads. After the hole is tapped simply wind
the foam insulation around the bracket and wind the black electrical
tape over the foam insulation to hold the foam in place. The fork
is now screwed onto the head mounting screw on the end of the
monopod. That's all! Simplicity, itself! Your newly created fork
should look like the image at right.
use the monopod fork, simply adjust the height of the monopod and
cradle the barrel of the camera lens in the "V" of the
fork. That's it! To change from a horizontal to a vertical composition
only requires the whole camera be turned. For best results, it is
suggested that you cradle the barrel of the camera as close as possible
to the camera body. Now, go "out there"
and make images!
text and images copyright Thomas L Webster 2005.