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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Bird Talk 
Thread started 16 Nov 2009 (Monday) 20:49
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Best vehicle to shoot from?

 
BradM
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Nov 16, 2009 20:49 |  #1

Considering another vehicle and one of my concerns is shooting big glass from within it. Many of the refuges I visit during the winter/spring you are limited to staying in the vehicle.

Some of things I am looking for is a sunroof that I get through, currently I can do that with my Chevy Cobalt coupe.

This car I have found to be pretty good for just myself, it sits low enough for decent pov on low subjects, has large windows for sweeping the sky w/ the 500mm f/4.

The other rig I use is Chevy Tahoe, comfortable for two shooting large lenses however it is a big stretch if your in the front seat shooting out the passenger side, and the rear windows don't drop all the way down limiting both low and high captures. The rear gate works well though for some situations with either the window up or the whole door up.

I have shot out of a number of vehicles and still haven't found the perfect one, has anyone?


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ajosteve
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Nov 16, 2009 22:34 |  #2

BradM wrote in post #9027656 (external link)
Considering another vehicle and one of my concerns is shooting big glass from within it. Many of the refuges I visit during the winter/spring you are limited to staying in the vehicle.

Some of things I am looking for is a sunroof that I get through, currently I can do that with my Chevy Cobalt coupe.

This car I have found to be pretty good for just myself, it sits low enough for decent pov on low subjects, has large windows for sweeping the sky w/ the 500mm f/4.

The other rig I use is Chevy Tahoe, comfortable for two shooting large lenses however it is a big stretch if your in the front seat shooting out the passenger side, and the rear windows don't drop all the way down limiting both low and high captures. The rear gate works well though for some situations with either the window up or the whole door up.

I have shot out of a number of vehicles and still haven't found the perfect one, has anyone?

Brad have you considered a convertible? I would think that would be the best vehicle, except in the rain or snow. You could even stand up in the seat if you had to. It would give you lots of room to swing the big lens. :D


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mikeivan
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Nov 18, 2009 15:38 |  #3

ajosteve wrote in post #9028258 (external link)
Brad have you considered a convertible? :D

My fantasy birding vehicle also, especially one of those hard top jobs like Volvo or Mercedes. Unfortunately, Mrs. mikeivan says no way. Isn't there an SUV with a moon roof for the back seat? That could work if you had a driver.


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EnglishBob
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Nov 18, 2009 15:41 |  #4

Honda Element with the removable Skylight in back works well with the rear seats folded out of the way.


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Hikin ­ Mike
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Nov 18, 2009 16:01 |  #5

Like this...

This is one of my cars at the Merced NWR a few years ago. Sadly I can't drive it right now because of my "condition".

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BradM
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Nov 18, 2009 17:50 as a reply to  @ Hikin Mike's post |  #6

I have shot from convertibles from Wranglers to Mustangs and didn't find them to be stealthy enough. While the wide open shooting was nice, any movement inside was certainly seen outside.

The best vehicle so far that I have shot from was a Honda Odyssey mini-van. With dual rear sliding doors it was easy to setup a 300-800mm f/5.6 Sigma inside on a tripod shoot either direction. Going floor level wasn't a real issue, while shooting up was good for as high as one might want to go.

The only thing is that I really didn't like the car for anything else. Found the seats very uncomfortable.

More often than not there is two of us shooting, one with the 500mm f/4 and the other with 400mm DO and 1.4x. So whoever is driving is usually using the 400 as it only as it is long as the 100-400mm when extended and very easy to manage.

The Sprinter vans look appealing, if one could get side doors or windows that could open from low to up high and a sunroof with a small platform under it would certainly get some height for those shots into the trees.


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Snow ­ Goose
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Nov 20, 2009 08:47 |  #7

I have given this some thought as well. The last time I went to Ridgefield I had a birder friend with me who was happy to drive while I was in the back seat (I have a Dodge Nitro at present). I was able to move from side to side depending on where the subject was. Usually, however, I am alone and find the center console to be a pain - preventing me from sliding to the passenger side to shoot. Unfortunately most vehicles now have front bucket seats with a huge center console. I believe a Toyota Tundra is available with a bench seat but it is not very fuel efficient and equipment storage space is limited in a pickup (I don't trust pickup canopies as secure storge for expensive equipment).

Brad - when is the best time to start shooting raptors at Ridgefield. I have never been there in the winter and want to make it down there this year. Maybe we could hook up for a day or two.
Bob


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BradM
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Nov 20, 2009 09:13 as a reply to  @ Snow Goose's post |  #8

Hi Bob, I have found usually by Thanksgiving the numbers are very good with all typical species are there. The number of raptors are starting to climb now. 2 weeks ago had over a dozen Red Tails, 2 Rough Legged, 1 Merlin, 4 Kestrel, and a few bald Eagles around the loop.

If the weather holds off a bit I will be trying to head down there this weekend, and maybe next Wednesday when we head down to the Central Oregon Coast for a week of shooting.

I have used a Dodge Dakota extended cab in the past that wasn't too bad to shoot from, and with a Pace Edwards bed roll top cover I had a dry, secure and invisible place to secure the gear. Like having a 6.5' deep water tight trunk. It was okay to shoot from for one but two wouldn't work, the 4 door version is too tight as well.


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scotteisenphotography
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Nov 20, 2009 09:15 |  #9

Hummer H1


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Nov 20, 2009 09:19 as a reply to  @ scotteisenphotography's post |  #10

I would say an older jeep wrangler with the top off and the back seat out. You can set a tripod in the back area where the seat was and if you need to get even higher you can climb up on the roll bars.




  
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BradM
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Nov 20, 2009 10:53 |  #11

scotteisenphotography wrote in post #9049861 (external link)
Hummer H1

Got to be kidding, windows are too small and it has the largest stretch across the center console of about any vehicle out there.

A better choice for any terrain vehicle at a similar price range would be a short base Uni-Mog with a custom bed.

But vehicle height is a real issue, in most cases using a vehicle can get you so close to a subject that they throw the blood from a victim on the car. And shooting down on a subject can really pull an image down.

So being higher can be a real benefit if trying to capture images of subjects in trees for the same reason as being lower on a low subject means not finding the perfect rig.

With my Cobalt is sits low enough most times, and I can get myself and the 500mm out the sunroof and stand on the seat if I need to get higher. With the Tahoe if we go past a subject while shooting from the back seat the door can be opened a lower pov can be shot. But really limited in range of motion and direction.

But 4wd isn't really a requirement for at least me. One time is last two years was 4wd even engaged on the Tahoe and that was on an icy highway pass in south-eastern Oregon last Feb. when coming back from the Klamath refuges.


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BradM
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Nov 20, 2009 10:57 |  #12

airfrogusmc wrote in post #9049885 (external link)
I would say an older jeep wrangler with the top off and the back seat out. You can set a tripod in the back area where the seat was and if you need to get even higher you can climb up on the roll bars.

I have had Wranglers from CJ's to YJ's and they do work pretty well for shooting but I couldn't use the Sigma 300-800mm tripod mounted in the rear except in very limited directions, the space is limited and the lens is big. The roll bars and wheel wells are the real issue.


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scotteisenphotography
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Nov 20, 2009 11:07 |  #13

BradM wrote in post #9050395 (external link)
Got to be kidding, windows are too small and it has the largest stretch across the center console of about any vehicle out there.

A better choice for any terrain vehicle at a similar price range would be a short base Uni-Mog with a custom bed.

But vehicle height is a real issue, in most cases using a vehicle can get you so close to a subject that they throw the blood from a victim on the car. And shooting down on a subject can really pull an image down.

So being higher can be a real benefit if trying to capture images of subjects in trees for the same reason as being lower on a low subject means not finding the perfect rig.

With my Cobalt is sits low enough most times, and I can get myself and the 500mm out the sunroof and stand on the seat if I need to get higher. With the Tahoe if we go past a subject while shooting from the back seat the door can be opened a lower pov can be shot. But really limited in range of motion and direction.

But 4wd isn't really a requirement for at least me. One time is last two years was 4wd even engaged on the Tahoe and that was on an icy highway pass in south-eastern Oregon last Feb. when coming back from the Klamath refuges.


Not if it's the rag top. Plenty of room in the back for shooting. I've done it plenty of times.


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Snow ­ Goose
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Nov 20, 2009 12:39 |  #14

The other issue I hate is the noise from starting the engine when you have to move forward or back. My son has a Preus and it always intrigues me when he gets in and drives off without a sound. I wonder if there are other vehicles out there suitable for photography that have this feature (I haven't researched it). In my view that would be one of the major issues to overcome, having scared off many subjects by starting the engine to get a little closer.
Bob


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ajosteve
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Nov 20, 2009 13:09 |  #15

Hey, Bob just gave me an idea, how about a electric golf cart, no sound, open top. You can wear camo clothes, and you can paint the cart in camo colors...heh..heh. Trailer it to the site!


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