The Bowl

Here's an application of some simple but effective principles; three point support, camera supported at its center of gravity and solid support to the vehicle.

A sand bag on the window sill of a car door works fairly well, but this system is easier to adjust and even allows some camera moves.

VX 1000 on Sand Bag

The bases can be made of wood, PVC water pipe, metal or plastic. Kitchen mixing bowls 8" to10" work fine for a Sony VX 1000 size camera.

Bowls and Bases

Off-the-shelf bowls are too thin and will dent easily. I cement 2 or more together with fiberglass resin or boat epoxy to make them stronger. They have to be cleaned of residual oil or wax so the resin or epoxy will stick. Clean steel wool and household cleanser works fine. Measure with water to see how much resin plus a little extra you will need to fill the gap between the bowls. Clean and dry the bowls well. Pour the correct amount of mixed resin or epoxy in the bottom bowl and wiggle the top bowl to force air bubbles out. Weight the top bowl to hold it down as the resin set. This is a messy process. Wear rubber gloves and cover your work area.

Cut a piece of 3/8" to 1/2" plywood, Masonite or plastic the size of the top of the joined bowls. Drill and tap a 1/4" - 20 hole and screw a 1/4" - 20 bolt through the center of the top long enough to not bottom in the camera mounting screw hole. (About 3 threads) Make sure that the hole is straight. Use a drill press if available. Tape the plywood top to the bowls with 2" wide tape.

If you use quick releases to attach the camera to the plywood bowl top, I suggest that you make spacers of hard foam that support the camera at a distance from the quick release to keep the camera from wiggling in the quick release.

Make one of the base designs to fit your car door. Screw the bowl on your camera and you are ready to shoot. Keep your hands on the camera. A safety cord on the camera and on the base is wise so you don't drop them while driving.

The bowl allows some panning, tilting and horizon correction while shooting, but many traveling shots work well with a fixed angle. Consider a wide angle lens.

For shooting out of a sun roof, a simple 3 point support works well.

Sun Roof and Bowl

Use hard rubber feet or tape and the legs to protect your paint. You will need a remote start stop cable and a monitor would be helpful. You might put a microphone that hears the camera motor running plugged into the camera and an earphones to tell if the camera is running. A telephone pick up device may also act a as a microphone near a motor when it runs. A video monitor would help for seeing the shot.

The mixing bowls and PVC fittings have just about the right amount of friction. Rubber has too much friction and Teflon has too little.

DON'T TRY DRIVING AND SHOOTING AT THE SAME TIME! Get someone else to drive and don't do dumb things like turn around where it is NOT safe. Be careful about other drivers, passengers and road rage. Don't act like you are taking people's pictures. Point the camera away from people if there are any doubts. Don't look at people like you are taking their picture. For extensive shooting from a sun roof consider other stuff on a roof rack to help disguise the camera.

For shooting out a open roof such as from a stopped safari vehicle, a small three point support works very well with bowls.

© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.