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How to Capture the Impossible Photos—by Blair Gable

REUTERS/Blair Gable     (CANADA)    

Our friend, Ottawa photographer Blair Gable, is a member of CanvasPop’s Pro community and shares his insights and behind-the-scenes thoughts right here on our blog.  Here are some of Blair’s tips on using remote cameras. 

Sometimes photographers need to be able to take photos from places they are not allowed to be in person. This is where remote cameras come in. With the right equipment, a photographer can rig-up a camera just about anywhere and trigger it from far distances. For the majority of my purposes I use remote cameras to photograph an alternate angle during the NHL hockey games I shoot for Reuters.

Most often I have a remote camera in the rafters—above the video screens—to shoot a top-down angle on one of the nets (usually the net with the hottest goalie). You lock in the setup, preset your focus/exposure and cross your fingers.

Ottawa Photographer Blair Gable


Here is the gear you need:

1. a camera
2. a lens
3. a triggering cable
4. zip ties
5. a tripod head
6. a clamp
7. safety cables
8. triggering devices
9. a carabiner


The lens goes on the camera, the triggering cable is attached to the camera, the zip ties secure the lens to the tripod head, the clamp attaches the tripod head to a secure surface, the safety cables loop through each piece of equipment, the triggering device is attached to the camera and the carabiner attaches the security cables together.

Ottawa Photographer Blair GableYou can trigger the cameras two ways: 1) by pressing the test button on your transmitter to capture specific frames or 2) by mounting the transmitter in the hot shoe of the camera in your hands – this makes your remote camera take a picture each time you take a picture (which means a lot of pictures of nothing around pockets of good action photos). I use option 2.

Safety is the most important thing here. If any piece of equipment comes loose or detaches from the setup it is important that it not go very far—hence all of the security cables. A lens falling from that height could kill someone or a triggering cable hitting the ice could get your credentials pulled and the privilege of having remotes in the arena could be taken away from all of the other shooters.

If you have any specific questions about the gear needed or the setup please leave them in the comments section or reach me on twitter @gablehead. Good luck!

Blair’s main photo above was taken during the 2010 hockey season—Buffalo Sabres’ goalie Ryan Miller stops Ottawa Senators’ Alex Kovalev’s shot on net in a shoot-out during their NHL hockey game in Ottawa December 4, 2010.  

Follow Blair on Twitter (@gablehead) and let him know what you’d like to see here next. 
Thanks, Blair!