Photo Tip Thursday (since I forgot on Tuesday) – Working Out of Your Vehicle

Last week I mentioned that your vehicle makes a great blind. This is definitely true, but what is the best way to work out of your vehicle?

I’m not sure of the exact best way, but I know what works for me. First, when driving around from location to location, I keep my camera within arm’s reach. You just never know when wildlife is going to appear, so being ready is paramount! I keep my camera on the console between my seat and the passenger seat. I figure my photo partner or my son can keep his camera on his lap, so I claim the console. Anyway, I’m driving so I get dibbs! I use a hand-towel to lay the camera on thanks to a suggestion from Moose Peterson. The lens cap is off and the camera is on. Again, readiness is next to godliness!

Next, my tripod is lying on the back floor. I have an extended cab, which is really nice to store my photo gear in until I need it. So the tripod is on the floor and extended as much as possible and yet so it still fits in my truck.

My camera bag is on the back seat and ready to be opened at a moment’s notice. In addition, I keep my flash cards in a LowePro case, which is always in my pants pocket when I am out shooting. There is nothing worse than havingĀ  a flash card full and not having an empty to replace it with. I also carry my spare battery in my pants pocket, too. Oh, I also have a pair of binoculars (we call them binos) on the front floor just below my console. I have bought them after checking a review at Outdoor Spike website.

Here is my procedure when doing an “elk run.” (That’s what we call our early am and later pm photo trips when photographing the Pennsylvania elk.) We drive around looking for wildlife. This is not a haphazard affair or route because our experience in finding elk is now more than two decades strong. We know where the elk are most likely to be found and if they are not there, we have other places to check. We are very successful in finding elk. Basically the only question that comes up is where to start. So we drive around on our experience-driven route looking for wildlife. When we spot an elk or another wildlife species, we make sure to get off the road. This is imperative because we do not want to block traffic, cause an accident, or ruin the experience of others by getting in their way. All four wheels are off the payment and we stop the vehicle and turn off the engine. If we can shoot from the vehicle we will. Otherwise, we carefully and quietly get out of the vehicle, grabbing our camera and tripod, and being sure not to slam the doors or making any other unnecessary sounds. Then we set up to photograph our subject. We repeat this process every time we come across wildlife to photograph. It works for me!

A couple additional notes… I keep an inverter in my truck to charge camera and flash batteries and to run my AC adapter for my MacBook Pro. The inverter is plugged into a power port in my truck and has two outlets to plug chargers and my AC adapter into when needed. This is extremely helpful, especially on long trips when I am away from home. I can charge batteries when needed and I can also power my laptop so I can upload the photos from my flash cards onto my computer. I also have an OWC portable external drive to backup my Lightroom catalog and all the photographs. With these helpful tools I can empty my flash cards either overnight or even during the day while out on a photo shoot.

Well, this is my procedure for working out of the vehicle. I’ve adapted and changed some of the details over the years and this is what I currently do when out photographing with my vehicle. What do you do? What tips for shooting out of a vehicle do you have to suggest and share?