How To Build A Tripod Plate For Multiple Cameras For Less Than $12

Posted in Astronomy, Photography, Space Shuttle at 8:00 am by Rebekah

When I go down to Florida next month to view the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-134), I would like to watch as much of the launch as possible through my own eyes, rather than through a camera lens.

I want to take photos and videos of the launch, though, but I don’t want to mess with too much stuff (i.e., adjusting multiple tripods as the shuttle goes up).

Enter the idea of a tripod plate that will mount to one tripod but allow multiple cameras/camcorders to be attached.

I know you can buy these, but they can be pretty pricey, and I figured it might be better and cheaper if I just made one to suit my own purposes.

I’m sure there are better ways of doing this, but here’s how I built my tripod plate for less than $12 and in about 30 – 45 minutes.

  1. Supplies (prices listed are from Lowe’s):
    • hardboard pegboard (3/16 inches by 2 feet by 4 feet) – $4.92
    • four 3-prong T-nuts (1/4 inch – 20 thread; 7/16 inch barrel height) – $2.30
    • four bolts (1/4 inch – 20 thread; 40 mm long) – $3.53 (I only used 3, but they came in a package of 4…also, I’ll probably be getting shorter bolts soon as these are a little long for the width of the board)

  2. Measure pegboard and use a pencil to draw the size (I started with 16 x 24 inches, to leave a margin of error, but may cut a bit off later)
  3. Cut it out
  4. Insert a T-nut into the center of the board; the bolt in the tripod’s quick-release plate will screw into this nut. I used a knife to make the desired hole a bit wider, then used a hammer to pound in the T-nut
  5. Place T-nuts in other desired holes in the board, for cameras and camcorders
  6. Screw bolts in the other side of the holes (using an Allen wrench, if necessary), through the T-nuts and into the screw holes on the camera devices, and that’s it!

A few thoughts:

  • Make sure the weight is distributed right; my tripod plate leans very slightly to one side, but is better as I pan the tripod head up. I have thought about attaching some sort of weight to the plate to balance it out, but it’s not too bad so I may wind up leaving it.
  • My bolts are a little long; as you can see, they stick out the bottom a fair ways. I will probably look for shorter bolts before going to Florida. While these bolts may be alright, the camera/camcorder may wind up rotating a tad when you move the plate up and down. However, this could also be an advantage, as I might want to move the camera/camcorder from side to side a bit.
  • I thought I might to need to build a back for the plate, to give some support to the cameras/camcorders as the plate tilts up. However, the T-nuts and bolts are more than sufficient to keep the camera devices from sliding around, so this may not be necessary.
  • I still might want to cut more off the back end of the board, but I like that it’s big enough to have the camcorder LCD screens open and long enough to support a longer camera lens (I will be putting a longer, telephoto lens on for the launch).

I’ll still have to do more testing, and practice using it, but so far I’m pretty pleased with my new tripod plate. Now I should be able to take photos (I can use my remote control for my DSLR), HD video, and possibly stream video with another camcorder, all while only adjusting one tripod!

I’ll let you know how it goes after the launch!

Follow Green Sky Chaser on Twitter and Facebook for weather, chasing, and blog updates.


Introducing…A Blog On Butterflies

Posted in General News, Photography at 8:00 am by Rebekah

For today’s blog I was thinking about discussing the possibility of severe storms next week, but as it looks like that isn’t going to happen now, I thought I’d take a moment to introduce my sister’s new blog.

Photo by Caitlin LaBar

While I’m out chasing tornadoes, Caitlin chases butterflies. She’s always been interested in studying insects, and she’s one of the smartest people I know when it comes to insects, especially butterflies and moths of the Pacific Northwest.

This is what her new blog will focus on: “observing, rearing, and collecting butterflies and moths in the Pacific Northwest. My goal is to post a new entry at least once a week, on topics involving personal observations, how-to guides, “biographies” of local Lepidoptera species, and photographic journals of my exploits.”

So if any of you have any interest in butterflies or insects in general (or know someone who does), especially for those that live in the Pacific Northwest, I encourage you to check out her site, and bookmark the site as there will be more coming soon.

Also, Caitlin is an excellent photographer; her photos of insects look just like ones you’d see in an identification book. She also takes great photos of birds, and has already started posting some of those.

The blog site is Northwest Butterflies (http://northwestbutterflies.blogspot.com/). Enjoy!


I now return you to your regularly scheduled weather blog.

PS: The Storm Prediction Center has recently put “predictability too low” in the day 4 to 8 forecast, instead of “potential too low”…that could be a good sign for even garden variety thunderstorms soon…


Prints For Sale

Posted in General News, Photography at 6:07 pm by Rebekah

Prints of my storm chase photos are now available for purchase on my website marketplace.

Currently, only selected photos from 2010 storm chases are posted in the photo gallery. More photos will be continue to be posted in upcoming weeks.

If you encounter any problems with the marketplace photo gallery, please let me know.

I am also working on a storm chasing highlights DVD for 2010 (for more details, see the marketplace). I hope to have it ready for sale by early November, if not sooner.


Lightning Photos

Posted in Photography at 5:21 pm by Rebekah

As expected, Bonnie has not survived her trip across the Gulf, thus she is not even a tropical depression anymore.

But instead of writing about the weather today, I thought I’d share some of my first attempts at lightning photography.  With the exception of a few video stills, I did not have a lightning photo before this year.  (I did take some photos of the Lone Grove supercell lightning on 10 February 2009, but those were with my film SLR that I rarely use anymore, so I have not finished off the roll and got the photos developed yet…hopefully I will soon, and then I’ll scan and post those later if any of them turned out…)

I took the following photos with a Nikon D3000, without a tripod (thus why some are a little blurry), on mostly automatic settings.  I still have a lot to learn about lightning photography, and I look forward to getting to know my new camera better (and using my tripod!) so I can take better photos in the future.

The first four photos are from May 18th, in the Texas Panhandle.  The last photo was from June 13th, also in the Texas Panhandle.  All of the other photos are from May 19th, in south central Oklahoma.

(By the way, I finished going through May 19th photos, so I should have those posted along with the chase log sometime late tomorrow or Monday.)