Behind the Shot : The Drive-In

Sometimes a simple piece of equipment can lend itself to making a different shot from an unusual angle. In this Behind the Shot I’ll be looking at a simple but effective technique I used for this shot from a drive-in movie tour I covered that stopped off at a long-stay car park at Newcastle airport.

I wanted to get a wide picture of the cars all parked watching the large screen which was showing Jaws. With no high ground or chairs to use I thought about getting my step ladder which I always carry in the car but I was parked in a different area to where I was working so I opted to use my monopod.

The one I use is a great piece of kit. It’s the Velbon Ultra Stick Super 8.

A lightweight and compact 6-section monopod that collapses to 31.4cm and extends to 155cm. It sells for around £40-50 quid and can be picked up easily if you google it.

It’s a great piece of kit because it’s also really small and fits in the pocket/pouch quite easily so can be carried around without any issues.

I got it origionally to use with my Fuji kit that I used to have because that camera system is really light and didn’t strain this small monopod.

The Sony’s are heavier and I can certainly feel a little more ‘flex’ when the camera is attached and I hold it above my head for this kind of shot. But it still seems to be stable and safe enough to support the Sony A9ii and a 24mm without any issues.

The technique I use with this shot is simple enough. I attached the monopod (unextended) to the camera. I engage the self-timer function set to 10 seconds. I set the exposure I want based on the scene. I then pre-focus on a specific area, generally using an aperture of f5.6 or f8 and then I flick the lens to manual focus so the camera doesn’t try and re-focus on something else in the scene once I raise it up. I tilt out the rear screen before extending the monopod. Then I press the button and lift it up above me keeping an eye on the rear screen for composition.

This rear screen view from this distance doesn’t offer a great view and in bright sunlight it’s almost redundant but even if I get a general idea of what I’m after it’s better than nothing.

Then it’s simply a case of holding it still and keeping an eye on the screen to tweak composition until the timer runs down. Once I hear the click I lower it, have a chimp and see if it has worked as I wanted. If I need to do another shot then I’m all set so just press the button and lift it up and repeat.

All fairly simple stuff and hardly tasking but it’s quick and easy and more importantly quite effective. So when I have to file a varied set of pictures that depict an event then this is another shot that you can add to the set that gives an unusual viewpoint which is never a bad thing

You can also adapt this technique to other shots as well to give unusual viewpoints and it does work well for direct over head shots in the right situation.

Clearly it also works well in its standard use as a monopod and I’ve used it on my 100-400 f4-5.6 G Master lens and it supports it well. It can also be utilised as support for shooting video. While it can’t replace a decent tripod for stable shots at a push it works.

So there it is. A simple and effective way of adding another shot to the set that offers a different viewpoint from normal.

Images (c) Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

See more of my work in my galleries & blog at Room 2850

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No usage without arrangement.

Published by ian forsyth photography

Press and Documentary photographer covering the North of England. Stringer & contributor for Getty Images News. Prints are available to buy on my website.

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