On this video photographer, Mark Holtze shares a really simple but neat trick on making vertical shots using any tripod with a center column. We also add our own little tip for creating (semi) vertical slides using a fluid head.
We shall start with Holtze’s tip and it is remarkably simple. All you need is a slider with a center column that you can raise and lower and by opening the lock and holding it you can control the descent of the camera.
This sound really is but there are a few things to consider. Not all tripods have a center column and not all that do have a center column that drops without significant friction (actually our very expensive Gitzo tripods can’t be used to do this trick precisely for this reason).
Another problem is that even with those that do drop down easily, the movement can be very wobbly and create a very uneven looking slide. To combat this Holtze suggests using both hands to hold the column and release it slowly. Obviously you will need to try this several times to get to known how your specific tripod behaves (this will also be dependent on the weight of your camera/lens combo).
Do keep in mind that you will only be able to do downwards facing slides this way although if you are shooting a still subject on a stationary background you can of course always reverse the time in post.
Now for our tip. This will not work with any fluid head (at least not as well from our experience) but our Sirui VH-10 is ideal for these types of moves. This isn’t a slide as much as a way to move the angle of the camera up or down in a very controlled and fluid way. The way to do this is simply to lock the head and very gradually open the locking knob. This will raise or lower the angle of the head until it reaches a leveled position – pretty cool an something we used a lot to create fluid motion when we didn’t have a slider.
Finally, if you do want to spend some money, the Gudsen Slypod which we tested here a few months ago can be a good option for vertical (motorized) shots and with the new lower-priced Slypod E (review soon) there is even a more affordable option now.
You can watch more HDSLR and video techniques on our dedicated HDSLR channel here on LensVid.