Archive for the ‘Polar Bears’ Category

No Tripod, No Problem: How to photograph from windows

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

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—  This is the one I use.  

                             Kinesis Photo Gear—www.—Naturescapes SkimmerSack

                            In England—

 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 

Window Mounts:  Kirk Enterprises 

                                 Len Rue Enterprises  

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


Polar Bear Photo Tour Update from Richard Day

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

(c) Penny Filiatrault

Richard Day on tundra buggy, 2010 (c) Penny Filiatrault

Polar bear season in Churchill, Manitoba is over for this year and it was another fun year on the tundra.  This was my 10th year of leading tours, and I had the pleasure of guiding 4 tours for Frontiers North Adventures this ‘round.  Everyone had a great time and went home with lots of good polar bear, arctic foxes, red foxes, and other arctic wildlife photos.  Besides the bears, highlights this year included some very cooperative arctic foxes.  If you’ve ever tried to photograph arctic foxes, you know that they spend most of their time darting around with their noses on the ground sniffing for something tasty to eat.  But on my first 2 tours, our buggy driver, Brian located some that were hunkered down in the snow waiting for storms to pass.

(c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery All Rights Reserved

Arctic Fox in Churchill Wildlife Management Area (c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery All Rights Reserved

Something else that was interesting this year was being able to witness and photograph seal kills by polar bears.  Our tours are in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area, bordering the Hudson Bay, which has high and low tides.  The seals come in on the high tides and usually wash out when tides go back out.  Sometimes an unlucky seal may be napping during the low tide and gets stranded on rocks until the next high tide.  The polar bears have learned to watch for these unlucky seals who become the bears’ next meal.  This is amazing to watch, and people took home plenty of photos of bloody-faced bears and bears fighting over the food.  They also had many opportunities to photograph mom and cubs together.

Everyone asks me how global warming is affecting the polar bear population.  Frontiers North partners with Polar Bears International who conducts research in Churchill.  Click here to learn more about polar bears.

(c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery All Rights Reserved

Polar Bear mom and cubs sleeping (c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery All Rights Reserved