Thursday, March 10th - Vote For Your Favorite Panorama: Chicago Skyline

I would love to get some feedback on everyone’s favorite panorama of the Chicago Skyline. I’m posting a couple of new ones and a few old ones and putting them to a vote. I’ve had some people give me feedback already, but I thought it would be fun to try out a poll on the site – which I’ve never done before. Let me know your thoughts.

Which photo do you prefer?

View Results

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Option #1

Panorama of Chicago Skyline

Option #2

Panorama of Chicago Skyline

Option #3

Panorama of Chicago Skyline

Option #4

Panorama of Chicago Skyline

Option #5

Chicago Skyline

Wednesday, March 9th - Homemade DIY Camera Slider – For Cheap

I’ve been looking for ways to stabilize my DSLR for video shots, while also adding some form of movement – panning or zooming. When doing some shopping online, I came across an assortment of sliders for purchase – from the IndiSlider system to much higher-end, higher-priced professional grade models. I definitely understand the reason behind these high prices – the build quality is excellent and the add-on potential for motorized control and other features is limitless. However, for the average Joe, these prices are unnecessary.

This past weekend, I decided to create my own slider using some ideas I had in my head. The end result is a fully functional, DIY camera slider for less than $15. As a starting point, I opted for a compact, 24″ slider, but with the purchase of a longer board and longer PVC pipe, you can easily construct more length. I wanted to be compact and lightweight, but it will be easy to upgrade if I need it.

I’m not going to type up a step-by-step tutorial here, but the tool and supply list is extremely simple and can easily be adapted to fit your tripod and/or camera. I will note that my tripod is a Manfrotto model with a 3/8″ thread – so my supply list reflects that. I hope that the video of the slider and its function – along with the supply list – will be helpful for others to create their own versions. Happy to answer any questions or be helpful where I can, but you will see it really is quite simple. The high price for the sliders you can find online is really not necessary for the beginner.

Enjoy the video below, which shows the slider itself and a few random clips to demonstrate its use.

Build Your Own / DIY Camera Slider from Jeff Trost on Vimeo.


1. Drill

2. Drill Bits – 3/8″ and a 1/8″ (used to pre-drill the holes in the wood for the center 3/8″ tripod connection, the U-bolts on the base and the pipe fasteners for the sliding component – see below)

3. Adjustable wrench (used to tighten all nuts & bolts)


1. 3/4″ x 6″ piece of clear poplar

I purchased a 3′ piece from Home Depot and had them cut a 26″ piece and a 5.5″ piece for the top sliding component. I chose this type of wood because it was lightweight, strong and not as prone to splitting like pine or the cheaper lumber at Home Depot. This was the most expensive piece of the set-up.

Price = $5.00

2. Two pieces of 3/4″ PVC pipe

I purchased a thick gauge of PVC for added strength, but these are extremely lightweight and will also be supported with strength from the wood base. Home Depot has hacksaws around the PVC supplies so you can cut off whatever size you need. I opted for a 24″ section.

Price = $2.00

3. Four 3/4″ U-bolt Pipe Fasteners

These are the bolts on each end of the PVC pipe. They loop over the PVC and fasten to the base / bottom plank of wood.

Price = $3.00

4. Four 1″ Tube Straps / Pipe Clamps

These are used to connect the sliding component to the PVC pipes. The clamps are sold without nuts and bolts, so I added those to my list below. These bolts, through the clamps, connect the 5.5″ piece of wood as the main sliding component.

Price = $1.00

5. Four 1/8″ Bolts & Four 1/8″ Nuts

As mentioned, these are used to fasten the clamps to the 5.5″ piece of wood that serves as the sliding component on top of the PVC.

Price = $1.00

6. Two 3/8″ Bolts of 2.5″ Length

One of these bolts is fastened in the center of the sliding component. This bolt pokes through the 5.5″ piece of wood and allows your tripod head to be screwed onto it. The other bolt goes through the center of the base piece of wood, and with the addition of a 3/8″ female extender, this bolt fastens to the tripod.

Price = $1.00

7. One 3/8″ Female Bolt Extender, Four 3/8″ Washers and Two 3/8″ Nuts

Again, the bolt extender was necessary because my tripod has a small male 3/8″ thread sticking up – to which my tripod head normally fastens. I screwed the extender onto this, and then put one of the bolts through the base piece of wood into the extender. With a washer on the top and the bottom of the wood, it creates a very sturdy connection to my tripod. The other two washers are used on top and bottom of the wood for the slider component and fastened tightly with the other nut and bolt. Hopefully this can be seen in the video.

Price = $2.00

Wednesday, March 2nd - Chicago Skyline Panoramas

As I mentioned before, I spent a few hours out by the Adler Planetarium on a cold evening in early February. This was my first experiment with the creation of panoramic images, which are huge files composed of stitching together several landscape or portrait-oriented photos. For a first attempt, I’m pretty happy with the results, and I hope to try again when the weather isn’t so miserable – although I do like the bit of snow in the corner of the first image, which adds some depth and a chill to the image.

Panorama of Chicago Skyline

View a larger version of this image on a black background.

Panorama of Chicago Skyline

View a larger version of this image on a black background.

Wednesday, February 9th - Submerged Photography

I’ve played around with taking photos both underwater and above – by slightly dipping the camera into the water and splitting the lens at the waterline. This provides a pretty interesting effect sometimes, but I definitely don’t do it with any old camera – Canons hate water. My favorite point-and-shoot is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2, which is waterproof and shockproof. It has been a wonderful camera for the last year, and I’m even more excited for the next generation to come out this spring – the TS3, with full HD video and hopefully improved image quality.

Submerged Camera

Submerged Camera

Tuesday, January 4th - 365 Photo Project: A Long Road

191/365: Gravel Takeoff

I began last year with the hope of taking a picture a day – the typical 365 photo project. For the most part, I succeeded. There were a few days sprinkled in where I wasn’t able to snap a photo until the wee hours of the next morning – or the occasional day stuck in the office without a camera.

Overall, it forced me to carry a camera almost everywhere, which is now what I always do. It resulted in some good shots, a few great shots and plenty of forced shots.

My resolution for 2011 is not to do this again.

Click here to see all 365 photos from 2010

Tuesday, January 4th - 365/365: Another Family Portrait

365/365: Another Family Portrait

Tuesday, January 4th - 364/365: Reggie

364/365: Reggie

Tuesday, January 4th - 363/365: Huff & Puff

363/365: Huff & Puff

Tuesday, January 4th - 362/365: It’s A Girl

362/365: It's a Girl

Tuesday, January 4th - 361/365: Better than Diamonds

361/365: Better than Diamonds