Robin Hoskyns Nature Photography – Blog

Images and stories of nature, science and conservation.


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Today I drilled through a frying pan! (DIY Ground Pod)

The completed ground pod with a wimberley sidekick and 120-300mm 2.8

The completed ground pod with a wimberley sidekick and 120-300mm 2.8

Another little DIY project that I have been thinking about doing for a while now. A DIY ground pod!

I got the idea from “The Handbook of Bird Photography” by Bence Mate, Jari Peltomaki and Markus Varesvuo which is a great book with loads of information about photographing birds. Normally I find these books are more for beginners and only cover the basics but this book has a load of detailed information. One of the ideas this book gives is to use a ground pod to get a very low angle.

The idea of a ground pod is that you can have all the flexibility of having a long lens on a gimbal style head much lower than any tripod with the lens being much more maneuverable than when using a bean bag. Also the smooth bottom allows you to slide your set-up along the ground as you crawl towards your subject, something that is a pain in the ass with a tripod.

When I looked up ground pods on the internet the cheapest of these cost around £80-£100 which isn’t bad for photographic equipment. However whilst looking at ground pods I came across a couple of people who had made their own and decided that Id give it a go.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Drill a hole in an old frying pan.

Step 2: Attach tripod head!

That’s it! It’ literally took me 5 minutes!

I considered trying to remove the handle but actually it makes it easier to maneuver so I left it on.

I’m expecting some odd looks next time I turn up at a nature reserve with my camera attached to a frying pan but I’m exited to see how it works in the field!

The underside showing the standard tripod plate screw used to hold the tripod head on. I might tape over this to make it slide along the ground more easily.

The underside showing the standard tripod plate screw used to hold the tripod head on. I might tape over this to make it slide along the ground more easily.

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DIY “plamp” for under £5!

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I had a few people ask me about the DIY plamp that I used in my last post (First Macro of the Year!) so I thought I’d explain how I made it.

Firstly I’m not the first person to try this and if you search “DIY plamp for macro” then you will get many results with different ideas.

The idea is based on the Wimberly plamp and is used for attaching various things to a tripod. This is mainly useful in natural light macro to hold a branch with an insect in place on a windy day or to hold a reflector to get a bit of under lighting on the subject. The wimberley plamp is a great bit of kit and is well built however they cost nearly £40! I thought I’d try making one as it seems a lot to ask for a small bit of kit and managed to find all the bits I needed for under £5.

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Firstly search for “foam covered wire” and you get a fair few results also try “twist ties” or something like that. I got a pack of two for £3! You can also find them at garden and DIY centres for holding delicate plants to stakes and generally attaching things to other things. Then I bought a pack of clamps, I got the cheapest at £1.50 for eight! They probably aren’t the best clamps and are a little small to clip to my tripod but actually they are fine for what I need them for. I then attached the clamps to the twist ties with a couple of cable ties that I had lying around and that was it!

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I find that a single tie on its own is a little bit wobbly in the wind but by twisting two together it is strong enough. I also like that this gives the flexibility to use two if necessary. I attach them to the tripod just by twisting them around and it seems to work quite well however I may invest in some larger clamps at some point just for speed in setting up. I also taped some foam to one of the clamps to try to stop it squashing delicate flower stems but I think this needs a little more work.

So there you go, DIY plamps for under £5! Please feel free to leave any comments below.

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A few quick pictures taken with the plamp today:

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