Stabilizing Your Camera In A Driving Car

Foam Pipe Insulation TripodHow many times have you driven in a car in an African safari, mounted your top-ultra-tele-zoom and waited for that giraffe to come by?

Never? You must be kidding! 

Ok, so how many times have you driver a car with your zoom lens and wanted to take a shot, only to find out that your window is not a good enough tripod to take a shot?

I have. My kids and I love to go to the zoo. After visiting the birds and the monkeys, there is a special treat. A safari-like stretch of land, with no concrete, and no cages. It is a big piece of land, which real-estate sharks have been eye-balling for years, but for some miraculous force are unable to grab.

Is this urban savanna you can drive and see Ostriches running, hippos bathing in the pool and other savanna animals – a Lion King lover’s festival.

The question is, how to photograph them. The animals are quite distant from the road, calling for a big telephoto lens. The long lens calls for a tripod, but you really, really don’t want to get out of the car. Meeting a hippo face to face is not what they tell you on Madagascar.

The obvious solution is to use your window as a place to rest your lens on, like a hobo tripod.  The thing is that the window edge is not the most comfortable object in the world to rest a lens on.

One thing that you can do is keep a bean bag in the car. They are small, provide excellent mount and you can even make them yourself. Now you can roll down the window, place a bean bag on the car and TADA!! An instant tripod. As with any good idea there is also a commercial version, but really, you can make an afternoon out of making those with your kids and spare a buck.

Another option, which is shown in the image below, is to use a pipe insulator. Pipe insulators are just like long pipes made of foam. Styrofoam, actually. They are soft, and easily cut along the “long side”. The cut along the insulator makes the perfect mod to connect the pipe to the car’s window. This is just what I did to my pipe.

Foam Pipe Insulation Tripod

Once you place the insulator on the window’s edge, you can comfortably rest the lens on it. You can elevate the window to get a better angle on the birds.

And I’ll give an extra 10 points if you know who the guy with the funny face is :)