Out of the Frying Pan and into the Wild: Stay Focused with Doug McKinlay


Hi I’m Doug McKinlayand you’re watching AdoramaTV. In today’s episode I’m going to look at a away for photographers to save a buck or two. For those of you into the photographic arts you know how expensive it is. In fact I’d call it a money pit but there are ways to save some money by doing a little DIY (do-it-yourself). So today I’m going to build a ground pod out of bits and bobs I’ve found around the kitchen and in the garden shed. The ground pod is a camera support primarily used by wildlife photographers to get an inside you the subjects. Now these are commercially available in fact Adorama sells a good one but with a little bit of foresight of ingenuity you can build your own for about 10 bucks. So just before we get started here’s what we’ll need. A marker pen, a straight edge which can be a ruler in this case it’s a little level. A Philips head screwdriver, a one inch hex head bolt threaded for your tripod head. An old frying pan, I do stress an old frying pan. A tripod head, a set of allen keys, a drill. Some drill bits, and an old shoe lace. So let’s get started. So the first thing I’m going to do is find the center of the pan. The backside of the pan and that’s where your straight edge and your marker pen come into play. So the next step is taking your drill and a small drill bit, to drill a pilot hole in the bottom of your pan in order to guide your bigger drill bit that should be the size of your bolt. Now from there what we’ve got to do next is find the correct drillbit the size of our bolt. Now this is simple, I got a whole set of bits here. I’m just going to grab the one that corresponds to it by checking the thickness. That looks about right. So once again, we mount it into our drill. Tighten up the chuck key You might have to put a bit of weight into this one. Make sure you’re holding the pan so it doesn’t skip out underneath and drill away. Pretty straightforward. Once you’ve got your primary hole drilled, take your bolt and check to see if it fits. Just like that. We flip it over, you see it sticking through the bottom of the pan. We’re almost there. The next step with this pan is to get rid of the handle. Now there’s no rule to say you have to get rid of handle but I just think it looks a little funny with the handle on it. So it is your choice ether get rid of it or keep it. So we take a phillips-head screwdriver and we undo the bolt. So that’s almost it. It’s that simple. Now the single biggest problem of making your own ground pod is the bolt. It gets lost pretty easily. So what I would I do, what I’m doing is I’m taking an old shoe lace and tying it around the back end of the bolt, like this and then through the hole where the handle was. Now I do suggest that you maybe glue this on with some super glue so it doesn’t move or you can use wire or if you really want to you can put a washer on there and glue that directly to the bottom of the pan and just spin the head onto the bolt. For the moment I am just going to leave it out. I am just going to show you the attachment. It’s very simple. It goes through the whole. Lastly, you take your tripod head. Now one small thing before we put this on, make sure that your tripod, the tightening arm on your tripod tightens above the bottom plate of the tripod because if it tightens below it you obviously can’t tighten up because I hit the pan. It’s easy to adjust just on this using your hex head allen keys to take it apart, move the tripod or sorry move the action arm up a little bit, it tightens above the bottom of the plate. Simply tighten it up. Once you’ve got it finger tight then you use your allen key. Allen wrench, find the right one that fits. Hold the tripod head, insert your allen key into the hex head of your bolt and give it a good, not too much but a good solid turn. It’s not coming off there. Now all we got to do is test it out. So it’s time to mount a camera and a lens on the ground pod. Now as I said previously the ground pod is mostly for wildlife photographers, therefore we will be using longer lenses. In this case is a 300mm f/4. As you can see I’m mounting the camera onto the pod with the collar on the lens. The tripod collar on the lens. This helps to balance the whole setup, takes the stress off the coupling between the camera body and the lens. So we’re going to take it into the garden and we’re going to give it a go. So there you have it, the homemade ground pod in action. Easy, quick and cheap to make. That’s it for me I’m Doug McKinlay for AdoramaTV. Don’t forget you can also subscribe to AdoramaTV for more great videos and tell us what you think. You can like, comment or share this video and please stop by the Adorama Learning Center for more great tips and tricks.

11 comments on “Out of the Frying Pan and into the Wild: Stay Focused with Doug McKinlay”

  1. michael howe says:

    Mistake wheres you're eye protection ?

  2. Tanguero5380 says:

    Hi Doug ! I turn the frying pan the other-way around. That way the screw head doesn't touch the ground in case I am on hard surface. It prevents the pan from rocking. I Wish you a happy new year !

  3. Riccardo Duò says:

    You have to turn the pan the other way. You are good in the soft grass garden, but if you have to put it on a solid ground, you lost your stability because of the screw head… anyway very nice idea!

  4. Wilson Newman says:

    Great video, Doug! DIY never goes out of style…

  5. Nemanja Tomic says:

    Why pan? Why not plastic plate or just a scrapwood?

  6. IndieSoundsChicago says:

    Problem with this is, by using that style bolt, you are limited to shooting on soft grounds like grass. With the bolt sticking out the bottom, on hard ground, the pan will wobble all over the place. Unless you drill 3 or 4 more holes and put in 3 or 4 more bolts with nuts, and use them as little legs. Or you can just epoxy the tripod head onto the pan, the epoxy is pretty sturdy.

  7. fredofoto says:

    Good ingenuity Doug… save some money… if you have all the tools otherwise borrow the tools from a handyman/woman friend..

  8. BassPlayerAvailable says:

    Great to get us all thinking about other/better/easier ways of doing this. Just find a piece of wood out of an old skip instead, also recess the bolt into the wood.

  9. Photografia Australis says:

    I'm thinking maybe a friz bee will do the job rather than carrying a heavy pan on location.

  10. John Van Griethuysen says:

    I found that the hole worked out better (on my 2nd version) being offset to the side away from the handle and using a heaverier flat bottom frying pan, also using an L-bracket mounted your camera that attaches to the ballhead.

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