A few weeks ago I was asked to do a POV article for VitalMTB so I went and searched through a bunch of old shots and realized I’ve been shooting POV stuff for more than 10 years. This is mostly just the article I did for Vital with a few more photos added…
Point of View (Remote Cameras)
I first started shooting POV bike stuff back in 1998 or 1999 10 years ago. Back then I used a simple remote shutter cord for triggering the camera and I taped it to the handlebars to keep it easy to reach while riding. After that I started thinking of ways to trigger the camera remotely so I cut the end off my remote shutter release and soldered on an 1/8″ mini plug that I could use with my pocket wizard remotes. (Yes I was using pocket wizards back in 1999, 10 years ago) Then I started putting the camera on other peoples bikes. In the fall of ’99 after a Kranked shoot in Utah I put it on the down tube of a bike and shot a photo of my Marzocchi Z1 CR with the disc and wheel spinning blurred and the Red Rock trail leading off into the distance. I think it ran in Bike Germany.
Digital cameras are quite fragile and expensive, they don’t like to be shaken and bumped a whole lot. So I still shoot film for most of my remote camera stuff where it’s bumpy or there could be some sort of crash. I’ve been through a bunch of Nikon D90’s and D90x’s, but I can pick them up for less than $250 now so it’s not too big a deal. I also use my old Nikon D2X for some stuff, it’s pretty beat already so I’m not too worried about it. You need to make sure that the camera you want to use has some sort of electric remote shutter release that you can get a pocket wizard cord for. (or other remote control device but I recommend the pocket wizards for reliability)
I use whatever I can find to attach the camera to the bike. You local pro camera store should have Manfrotto Super Clamps and Magic Arms and all sorts of other goodies. That’s what I started with, and I’ve since found that while those options are quite adaptable they are heavy and don’t work as well as they could. Now I make custom mounts from aluminum and steel cable and whatever else I need to get the job done. Keep in mind that anything attached to the handlebars will greatly affect the handling of the bike, it can be dangerous. For my helmet cam my camera weighs 3 lbs, and it’s on one side of the helmet which makes it very hard to hold your head straight. So the pocket wizard receiver and a couple of lbs of lead weight are on the other side of the helmet to balance it. Which makes the whole thing really heavy and awkward, but better that than lopsided. I also have a horseshoe collar to take some of the weight if needed.
Disclaimer – I’ve been through 3 or 4 cameras and a few fisheye lenses doing this stuff, stuff does break. More importantly think about the rider, gear may cost money but it’s replaceable. Mounting anything to the handlebars really affects handling and can result in crashes. Anything that sticks out from the bike can hit trees, rocks etc. and cause a crash, be careful!
I have a few exciting new shots in the works with remote cameras so look for a post sometime in early 2010.