Photo Tip Tuesday – Using Your Vehicle as a Blind

Today I am starting a new weekly feature here on my blog that will hopefully provide a valuable photo tip each Tuesday. I am calling this feature “Photo Tip Tuesday.”

Today’s photo tip is pretty simple, but very important. Getting close to wildlife is often not an easy task. Even with big telephoto lenses on our cameras, we still have to make our way toward the animals we photograph. This can be incredibly frustrating at times! If we get too close this is often what happens:

Enter today’s tip: use your vehicle as a blind!

Sometimes it just makes sense to stay in your vehicle and shoot out your open window. Many animals are accustomed to cars and trucks coming near them, but when someone is walking toward them they flee. It comes down to their basic instinct: fight or flight. By using your vehicle as a blind, you can often get close to your subject without alarming them. They might look up to see what’s going on, but they often retain their previous behavior because they perceive the vehicle as something quite safe and something they are used to seeing around them.

In some places, etiquette requires the photographer to stay in the vehicle. One place where I photograph eagles strictly frowns upon anyone leaving their vehicles and risk chasing the eagles away. In this case, the only thing to do is learn how to best shoot from your vehicle and obey the unwritten but oft enforced rule.

There are some tips and tools that help when photographing out of the vehicle. Sandbags can help provide a steady perch for your lens. Drape it over the window sill and then place the lens down on it. Another option is to buy a support that attaches to a partly opened window and even has a place to install a ball head. Turning off the engine will also help reduce unwanted and unnecessary vibration. Please use common sense, however, and do not stop in the middle of the road. This is not only dangerous, it is downright rude!

Using your vehicle as a blind can help you get closer to your subject. Give it a try the next time you have a chance.