For overhead lathe shots
Sky Cam
© Frank Ford 2009; Photos by FF

I find that the most frustrating difficulty in taking machining photos is the nature of the machines themselves. Guards get in the way, and sometimes the machine obscures the cutting action. My lathe is tall enough that in order to take photographs of some turning operations I need to have the camera over the spindle axis, and I can't use the tripod in that position. And, on top of that (pun intended) I wouldn't be able to see through the viewfinder of my SLR at that height even using it without a tripod.


Enter the Sky Cam. It's a "bridge camera" -- you know, the one that bridges the gap between compact point-and-shoot and the digital SLR with its interchangeable lenses. Here it is in action:

For me, the most important feature is the swing-out LCD screen -- not many new models have that feature any more. I take all the Sky Cam shots using the camera's self-timer to avoid camera shake. I try never to use flash because it tends to "flatten" the image and suck the life out of it.


This is the picture I took with the camera as it was set in the photo above.


And, a shot from just above the tailstock:



I have the camera mounted on a Magic Arm, with a swing out support that pivots freely at the yellow arrows:

I can position the camera in just about any orientation using the Magic Arm joints, all three of which lock with a turn of the central knob. Once the arm is locked, I can swing the camera in and out of range without any readjustment. (There's more about the Magic Arm in my piece on the Mill Light Bar.)


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