Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Vehicle Support System

Fortunately African wildlife sanctuaries abound with some of the most dangerous animals on the planet, and for this reason it is better to photograph these magnificent animals from the safety of a vehicle or hide.

Camera movement is probably the greatest cause of unsharp and blurred images, this can easily be eradicated by using a well-designed support system. Handheld photography is limited to smaller lenses and for the large telephoto lenses is always better to use a stable support.

When you are creating those outstanding images switch off the vehicles engine, engine vibrations will only add to the problem, especially in low light conditions. (Slow shutter speeds)

Crowned Lapwing
(Vanellus coronatus)

Personal experience taught me that shooting from a vehicle pose its own challenges, supporting your equipment in the confined space can be a daunting task.

Tripods inside are cumbersome, and in most cases only solve half the problem. Window and door mounts are also available, but window mounts are not suitable for heavy equipment and therefore not the ideal platform. Door mounts (commercially or self-made) on the other hand can be quite useful but could also be restrictive to one side of the vehicle.

Then there is also the trusty old bean bag (above), although the normal bean bag provides a solid base the problem arises when the bean bag is placed over the vehicle's door. Driving with the bean bag over the door on gravel roads provides you with unplanned stop opportunities, braving African wildlife in order to retrieve it.

My current support system features a uniquely designed bean bag (by OutdoorPhoto) that snugly fits any vehicle door or the passenger seat, with a Wimberley Clamp on a Badger Gear Ground Pod base.

When filled, the uniquely designed bag with the two legs creates an extremely stable platform. Its unique shape snugly wraps around the vehicle door, bars on a game viewing vehicle and many other places to provide you with a very solid platform for heavy photographic equipment.

Remember: African wildlife sanctuaries teem with dangerous animals and for this reason a well-designed vehicle support system is essential. In other parts of the world photographer might be able to leave the safety of their vehicles and setup tripod systems to provide the necessary support.

(Panthera leo)

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