No Tripod, No Problem: How to photograph from windows

When I photograph birds, most of the time I used a tripod to steady my camera and lens, but sometimes –such as photographing from a vehicle—that is not possible.  People have asked what I use for other photography situations, so in this blog post, I’ll share what works best for me. 

Tripods are not practical for photographing out of windows so I use a bean bag, panning plate, and window mount.  Keeping your camera stable is very important for in-focus photos—an image stabilization lens will improve your results dramatically.

This is the setup I use when photographing polar bears on my tours to Churchill, Manitoba each October and November. 

Richard Day on tundra buggy using bean bag, panning plate, & window mount

Richard Day on tundra buggy using bean bag, panning plate, & window mount

Here are a few suppliers of some of these hard-to-find items:

 

Bean Bags:        Vertex Photographic—www.vertexphoto.com  This is the one I use.  

                             Kinesis Photo Gear—www. kgear.com—Naturescapes SkimmerSack

                            In England—www.photobeanbags.com

 Panning Plate for Bean Bag:  This sturdy but light-weight metal plate is fitted with a swivel mount for panning and an Arca-Swissäclamp. Simply take your lens off the tripod and insert it into the clamp, tighten and shoot!  The smooth flow of the pivot makes panning a breezeFound at Visual Echoes—847-438-3587  visualechoes@worldnet.att.net 

Window Mounts:  Kirk Enterprises  www.kirkphoto.com 

                                 Len Rue Enterprises   www.rue.com  

I use the same system on my SUV window when I photograph birds in refuges or along the country roads near my home.  This Short-eared Owl was taken from my car window at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area in Marion County, just a few miles from my home.

Short-eared Owl in flight at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, Marion Co., IL

Short-eared Owl in flight at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, Marion Co., IL

 

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