There are many advantages to using a mobile blind. With the ideal vehicle you can get access to the areas you want, high enough to view over bushes and rails. You’ll have large windows to allow ease in getting your big lenses in and out, and maybe even a sunroof to work out of. Once you have everything you want in a vehicle, here are some tips for using your mobile photography platform.
The Mobile Photographic Platform
Wildlife usually consider a vehicle harmless. They are used to it roaring by. Working from the road out the window can offer many opportunities that disappear as soon as you step outside. Using the window as a brace to rest your camera on, raising it to the right height, is simple. Put a bean bag over the glass and rest the lens on it. Electric windows work quickly and quietly to adjust the window precisely without bending over and struggling with a hand crank. Make sure you turn off the vehicle and let it quit moving before you begin to photograph.
One of the most versatile tools we’ve found for working from a vehicle is the Groofwin, by LL Rue Enterprises It is a unique structure for ground-roof-window support. It can support the heaviest of lenses and hooks over the car window and braces against the door. It will lay flat for photographing from the vehicle roof or from the ground.
Since the car acts as a blind, you can sometimes open the door slowly and crouch behind it, still using the window as a camera support, and still keep the door between you and the animal. For really sensitive animals, we drape a towel or camouflage material over the open window and wrap it around the camera lens to cover our movements.
When photographing with someone else in the vehicle, ask them to limit their movement. The motion rocks the vehicle, making it harder to focus and obtain sharp images. Working from a vehicle can be uncomfortable, as you try to maneuver around the steering wheel and gear shift. It can be even more difficult trying to maneuver around a friend in the seat beside you. To avoid trying to shoot out the same window, one of the photographers can use the back seat.
One of the advantages of working from a vehicle is the convenience of having everything within easy reach. Make sure you have easy access to the equipment you need. To avoid missing opportunities, we keep the camera on the seat beside USA, lens mounted, film loaded, power on, and ready to shoot. Be sure to secure it in case of sudden stops.
Is there space in the vehicle for your camera gear, keeping it ready to grasp and use? Traveling alone, the passenger seat is ideal. With captain’s chairs, a unit can fit between the seats for your gear. If you can easily reach the back seat, this may work. Putting your camera on the dashboard isn’t a good idea as the the heat through the window can be intense. If there is room between you and the steering wheel, you can also put the camera on your lap.
Our Mobile Platform
We’ve worked from many different vehicles, from four-wheel drive rugged monsters to sports cars. As we travel across North America we use our crew cab dually truck as our mobile platform. We use the crew cab with bench seats so both of us can have an entire seat on which to move from side to side. One of the new vans with doors on both sides would work excellent for this. The truck bed and roof also serve as platforms, allowing a sweeping perspective. Unfortunately, a crew cab dually has a very long axle system and it isn’t very maneuverable. It takes a lot of room to do a U-turn. Its size requires a lot of advance planning on where we can take it and what constraints are up ahead on the road.
Think of all the ways you can rely upon your vehicle to become a platform to work from. Consider these when buying your next photo vehicle.