Words by Larry Tiefenbrunn - Platypod Founder/Owner/Inventor
Edited by Eryka Bagwell
The new Platypod Handle, currently on Kickstarter through May 31st is an amazing companion with my Arsenal 2 Pro Camera Assistant. Just as the Arsenal 2 Pro acts as an assistant for tethered shooting from my DSLR camera to my iPad or iPhone, the Platypod Handle assists me by holding all my equipment together, hands-free. This allows me to be available to interact with (and pose) the talent, as well as getting the entire family looking into the lens to capture a great image in a very short time.
Here’s the basic set up: The Platypod Handle is mounted on top of my tripod. Besides acting as a center column extender, it allows me to attach several devices near the camera. Normally, the Arsenal 2 Pro can be mounted on a camera hot shoe, but that place is needed for my PocketWizard Transceiver. To support the Arsenal properly (upper left corner in image above), I mount it to the Handle cap (on one of the eight ¼”-20 sockets) via a cold shoe combined with a Platypod Gooseneck. I then bent the gooseneck so that the Arsenal is positioned vertically (as is the camera and iPad).
Next, I use a tripod mount for tablets (to hold my iPad Mini) and place this on the red thumb-screw end of a Platypod Elbow, which is already attached to another socket at the top of the handle. A four-port power supply charges my iPad and the Arsenal. This is supported by yet another Platypod Elbow and Platypod Mini Super Clamp.
Atop the Platypod Handle is the Platyball Elite with the camera mounted to its Arca clamp using a Platypod Disc. One really nice thing about using the Platypod Handle, not only can it further extend from a 6 ½” length to a 10 ½” length, but it also can swivel around, allowing for easy composition. In this case, the camera is in portrait orientation, allowing me to fill the frame with the subjects and the background sans any gaps at the sides. Best of all, this entire rig including the tripod can be lifted and repositioned with one hand gripping the Handle!
A little story on this photo shoot. As most of you may know, I'm the inventor of the Platypod and Platyball as well as CEO of the company. I'm also an avid photographer and have been so for over 50 years. Once a year, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, families in my community get dressed up in costume to celebrate. Each year, I offer group portraits as a free service to many of these families in my home-studio. I enjoy doing this tremendously, but I simply do not have the time to sit down and process all these images so, the set up and the process must be perfect and very efficient.
I start with a 9’ wide and 20’ long backdrop, supported by light stands, and a transverse pole. The edges are taped to the floor so that the cloth won’t shift around with all the traffic.
Balanced studio lighting is provided by two large monolights with a 5’ shoot through umbrella on each. Lighting is metered with my old Sekonic flash meter. Each light is pointed towards the opposite side of the room to “feather” the light, balancing to approximately f/13 across the field to allow for even exposure good depth of field, allowing for two or three rows of people. I also use an ExpoDisc to manually set my color balance on my Nikon D850 before the shooting begins. In most cases, I am using an AF-S Nikkor 28-200 mm zoom because the family sizes vary, and this allows quick framing without having to change lenses.
The Arsenal unit as a transmitter for my Nikon D 850 transmits the images to my iPad or iPhone, but even more important, it quickly sends those images to my clients within seconds of when the image is taken! In the past, I would email the photos to these families before they left my studio, but I've found that it is much faster to use Apple AirDrop if they have iPhones. Both the parents and the kids are delighted to have these beautifully exposed images in their possession, and ready to share online. I feel like I have made a happy holiday even happier for everyone.
To purchase your Platypod Handle (or to take advantage of our incredible deals before they end on May 31st) be sure to our Kickstarter campaign by clicking here.
We also strongly recommend getting your own Arsenal 2 Pro Camera Assistant to allow you to focus on composition, let the .Ai do the work for you, get yours by clicking here.
If you have a final image and BTS that you’d like to share and potentially be featured on our blog (newsletter or social media pages), please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.