Using a Boom Lift for Aerial Real Estate Photography

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes

 

Using a Boom Lift for Aerial Real Estate Photography

 

In the construction industry, these hydraulic lift devices are also referred to as a cherry-picker, bucket lift, hydraulic lift or basket crane.  They're used for everything from washing windows to trimming trees. And they can also make a superb platform for real estate photography.

Eric Kodner at Jackson Meadow, using boom lift for real estate photography

[Photo shoot at the Jackson Meadow Development in Marine on Saint Croix, Minnesota, Photo by Wayzata Lakes Realty]

 

We put one of these boom lifts into service a couple of weeks ago with gratifying results.  Our Minneapolis - Saint Paul real estate company, Wayzata Lakes Realty, was up in the northeast metro area, doing a photo shoot at the Jackson Meadow residential development in Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota.  And we needed a way to get aerial views without a lot of fuss.

We used a trailerable "Bil-Jax" boom lift for the job.  The lift boom extends to a height range of around 30 to 42 feet  and it has the capability to rotate smoothly and quietly for 360 degree pan effects.  The lift is incredibly easy to set up and use.  Once the rig is trailered to your desired location and you've made sure the downriggers are properly positioned, all you do is release the basket and tip it up into position.  There are dual controls, one set for an operator on the ground and another set in the basket itself.

Best of all, the lift basket has room for your still and video cameras, lenses, tripod and other equipment.  You can lease one of these for $200 to $250 a day.  And the results are only limited by your imagination.

 

[Jackson Meadow Video by Eric Kodner and Wayzata Lakes Realty, Minneapolis & Saint Paul, Minnesota, 612.670.2539]

 

 

 

 

Posted by

Contact Broker Eric Kodner with Wayzata Lakes Realty about Minneapolis & Saint Paul area properties, including Lake Minnetonka, Edina and the Minneapolis City Lakes area (Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet). We also sell on the Saint Croix River and on Lake Superior, including Bayfield, Wisconsin and Madeline Island homes.  With sixteen years experience marketing and selling waterfront properties in Minnesota and Wisconsin, we know Lake Minnetonka and Madeline Island real estate.

Wayzata Lakes Realty LLC (Minnesota) and Madeline Island Realty LLC (Wisconsin)

Real Estate Brokerage licensed in Minnesota & Wisconsin

Phone or Text Message 612.670.2539

EMKodner@Gmail.com  or

MadelineIsland@Gmail.com

Wayzata Lakes Realty

 

 

 

 

Comments (17)

Winston Heverly
Winston Realty, Inc. - Atlantis, FL
GRI, ABR, SFR, CDPE, CIAS, PA

It's a good idea, for those that are not afraid of heights. The question is has it been affective in your marketing time? 

Oct 13, 2012 11:42 PM
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Winston - I like to mix aerial shots with eye-level photos. They give a property a "bigger than life" feel that's eye-catching and holds the attention of viewers.

I'm not big on heights myself, but the results are worthwhile. 

Oct 13, 2012 11:47 PM
Mike West
Heritage Oak Properties - El Dorado Hills, CA
El Dorado Hills, CA CDPE, CNE, Licensed Loan Origi

Interesting idea Eric.  Unfortunately, I have a fear of heights and would loose my lunch if I tried that.

I wonder if it would be more effective with a music overlay rather than the hydraulic pump noise. 

Good luck with it.

Oct 16, 2012 08:06 AM
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Mike - I put this up without a music background more for illustration purposes than for marketing.  I plan to remove the audio track with Adobe Premiere Essentials and will then decide if I want to add a vocal or instrumental track.

Using a boom lift is a nice alternative to pole photography, provided you have someone willing to go up thirty to forty feet and shoot photos or videos.

Oct 16, 2012 08:38 AM
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

Eric, I've been shooting elevated photos with my pole aerial photography (PAP) rig for years, but have always advocated a lift where necessary.  I have on occation used a lift.  There's nothing like bing up with the camera for the increasd control.

Oct 18, 2012 12:15 AM
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Lee, thanks for contributing. I like having the ability to bring along a small tripod or monopod, lenses, filters and multiple cameras as required by the situation. There's enough room in the basket of one of these lifts to sit or stand and to manage equipment needs during a photo shoot.

Oct 18, 2012 12:24 AM
Douglas Belcher
Chateau Realty - Nanaimo, BC
RE/MAX, Nanaimo ABR ePRO SRES

Sometimes a 14 foot ladder works just fine.

Oct 18, 2012 05:14 AM
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

Different tools for different jobs or purposes.  Here's how I see it, below 15 feet, I use my short pole and below 30 feet, I use my taller handheld pole.  If I have a big job that will require a lot of time at altitues below 60 feet, a lift might be the best tool.  If I need heights between 30 and 1,000 feet, remote drones are probably the best choice, though there is the FAA issue when using them commercially.  Above 1,000 feet, I rent a plane.  Above 10,000 feet, there's always Google Earth.

I know there are those who prefer 50 to 60 foot mounted PAP rigs, but they seem heavy, complicated and time consuming to errect not to mention the initial cost and tranportation requirements.  I would think a drone would be a better choice here.  Some might say windy days prevent the drone from flying, but I wouldn't put up a tall pole in windy conditions either.

Oct 18, 2012 08:55 AM
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Douglas - I'm not big on ladders as a photography platform. I like to pay attention to my work and on a fourteen-foot ladder, I'd be doing that at the expense of my personal safety.

Lee - I might use different numbers, but your reasoning is sound. I prefer the lift for quite a few reasons. 

First off, the lift basked allows me to be comfortable and to take my time when I shoot.  Unless it's really windy, I don't have to fight that problem.  I can sight through the viewfinder and I can plan and compose a shot with greater ease, which means less image cropping and other fixes. If I want to change a filter or a lens, I don't have to pull down the entire apparatus and set it up again.

Drones are intriguing and I've seen some great results in real estate photography (look at https://vimeo.com/23570784 for a perfect example of how to use a quadcopter and a GoPro camera to achieve awesome results). The problem with radio-controlled drones is, they crash sometimes. There are lots of videos on YouTube of quads and hexacopters and octocopters that were shot as the copter augers into the ground, carrying a couple thousand bucks worth of photographic equipment.

Have you checked out the PhotoShip One website for a look at the "FlyLine Cable Cam" setups?  For a starting price of around $5000, you can do some remarkable things.  When I compare that price to the $8000 to $14,000 for a first-rate remote hexacopter/transmitter/gimbal mount with gyro, it starts to look pretty attractive.

 

Oct 18, 2012 10:22 AM
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

HERE'S THE BEST PARt OF USING THE BOOM LIFT - IT'S AN IDEAL VIDEO PLATFORM!

Check out the embedded video near the bottom of my post.

The Bil-Jax boom lift shown in the photo at the top of my blog rides on a rotary platform that uses a big worm-and-wheel gear which gives the user speed-controlled smooth panning. This offers the ability to scan panoramic scenes smoothly and effortlessly!

You can start and stop the panning drive as you choose. You can adjust and control panning speed. It's smooth and remarkably un-jittery!  There's no need to use a motorized pan head, as the entire crane and basked moves on command.

I'm not sure you can duplicate those results with a pole setup.

Oct 18, 2012 10:40 AM
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

I will agree that PAP is not suited for video.  

As far as making setting changes to the camera, it takes about about 2 seconds to lower the short pole and about 15 seconds to lower and extend the tall pole not counting the time it takes to make adjusts to the camera.  The short pole setup can be put together for less that $100 and the tall pole setup with wireless live view and shutter control can be put together for less than $600.  I don't leave the ground so I can't fall off a ladder (not really concerned about falling out of the lift).  I can walk around with either pole in the front yard, back yard and even inside the house.

I'm not saying the pole is best for all situations, but it's a great, inexpensive and fairly safe way to get elevated shots.

I have rethought my comments about using drones.  They will work if you have adequate experience.  I have a pilot's license so renting a plane is not problem, but even being a pilot myself, I would not attempt to fly a drone with my camera bolted to it.  So if you don't have at least a few hundred hours of flight time under your belt, hire someone who does.  Otherwise, find a different method of getting your camera aloft.

Oct 18, 2012 01:51 PM
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

I love it.  I don't expect to see much of it, but it surely added interest to that property. 

So often I've been thwarted in getting a good photo because of trees, garages, autos, etc. close to a house.

 

Nov 03, 2012 10:51 PM
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Lee - I need to give pole photography another try. My first experience was influenced by high winds.

The drone approach is one of those things that will probably improve with technology. For one thing, it appears that quadcopters and hexacopters are becoming more affordable. And as their use in aerial photography widens, we'll probably see most of the "bugs" solved. In the meantime, there are other solutions that are more affordable and less risky from a financial standpoint.

Lenn, thanks. As long as we're being told to add video to our marketing presentations, I find this approach makes for a nice way to showcase a property.

Nov 04, 2012 01:21 AM
Sam Miller
RE/MAX Stars Realty - Howard, OH
Knox County Ohio Real Estate Specialist

Eric, I have always wanted to rent one of these and they would sure be awesome to capture some amazing images.

May 08, 2014 12:28 PM
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Sam, the boom lift offers some interesting possibilities. It's nice to be able to be "hands on" and to hold and operate the camera, instead of going the FPV (first person view) route with a drone-mounted camera.

May 18, 2014 06:17 AM
Sam Miller
RE/MAX Stars Realty - Howard, OH
Knox County Ohio Real Estate Specialist

Eric, I have been giving this idea a lot of thought and love the idea the more I think about it.  If I rented one for a day I could probably shoot 5 or 6 homes and the cost per home would be VERY low yet the value created with the photos I could capture would be HUGE!!!  This is a great idea!

Sep 05, 2014 01:12 AM
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Thanks, Sam.  Using a boom lift is considerably less expensive than hiring someone to do aerial shots, particularly when multiple properties are involved.  The only problem is moving the rig from one property to the next and setting it up.

Sep 10, 2014 03:42 AM