You may not realize it, but one of the best blinds for either birding or photographing birds and other wildlife, is your car or pickup. I can walk or hike and I am more apt to spook a bird then than when I am riding. I know there may be some disagreement there, and of course, you can’t take an automobile down a hiking trail. I am talking about when it is possible to do so.
There is another means to my madness here. My huge 500m lens is not convenient to carry with the weight being somewhere around 13 lbs. I love to drive slowly down country roads where there is virtually no traffic, or through parks that have the roads that amble through the trees. Ann is usually with me and she is a big help in spotting our subjects.
I carry one of my Canon 7Ds with a 100-400mm zoom lens on my lap. The other 7D with the big 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter rests comfortably balanced on the padded counsel between the front seats. My binoculars rest on the dashboard. I lower my driver’s side window down far enough that it is raised about 2-3 inches above the sill. There I attach my Noodle.
The Noodle is one of these foam flotation tubes that you can buy at Walmart. I call them whoppers, because in their original form they are about 4 feet long, and when you swing them at your buddies in the pool, the sound like Whop, Whop, Whop!! Okay, so that’s a corny definition.
I got the idea from Ron Dudley and Mia McPherson, two outstanding photographers and bloggers from Utah. Well, actually Mia gave the idea to Ron, and Ron passed it on to me. You take one of those Noodles, cut off a piece about 10-12 inches long. Cut a long slit down one side, cover it in duct tape and voila! you have very nice window cushion to rest your camera.
I photographed these two Great Blue Herons at Middle Concho Park here in San Angelo. In this park they have the roads that roam throughout, but the added bonus I have is that I can also drive down through the grass to the water’s edge, as I did for these images. I maneuvered my car, a 2011 Ford Edge, so I could shoot from my drivers side window. In both instances, the herons were across the water about 100 yards away. For shooting, I used the 7D with the 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter. It rested comfortably on the Noodle for a nice solid platform. Be sure to turn your ignition off. That prevents any added vibration from reaching your lens.
Click on either image to see a very nice enlargement.
Photo #1 – Exposure 1/2000 sec. @f6.3, -0.7EV, ISO 500.
Photo #2 – Exposure 1/2500 sec. @f6.3, -0.3EV, ISO 320