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.
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
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 breeze. Found at Visual Echoes—847-438-3587 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.