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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gear Up Your Photo Vehicle

Accessories to turn your car into a photography companion

Labels: How-To
This Article Features Photo Zoom

Garmin GPSMAP 62sc
For day-to-day navigation around town, most of us rely on a smartphone, but out in the field, especially if you're getting into some remote backcountry, a smartphone can't be relied upon. For nature photographers, a GPS is still a necessary item for the camera bag. The Garmin GPSMAP 62 line of GPS units is robust, with useful features. The GPSMAP 62sc has all of the usual tools like a compass, an altimeter and a large color screen, but it also has a built-in 5-megapixel camera. The camera gives you a simple and effective location-scouting tool. Contact: Garmin, www.garmin.com.

SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger
We've written a lot about safety in the outdoors. One simple, compact device that can save your life is the SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger, which lets you send emergency messages and gives your exact location. The SPOT also can transmit less dire messages like "I'll be home in time for dinner" that you can custom program. For keeping your family informed or for calling in life-saving personnel, the SPOT is something every nature photographer who follows the trails less traveled should have. Contact: SPOT, findmespot.com.

K-Tek Tadpole
Compact Video Pole
We're big fans of compact video cameras like the Contour and GoPro HERO. These little camcorders can deliver excellent image quality, and their small sizes allow them to be mounted in ways to give you some startling perspectives. To get the most out of a small HD camera, a lightweight pole and a suction cup mount are two excellent options. The K-Tek Tadpole line is lightweight and lets you get the camera up or down into some interesting positions. On a road trip, you can experiment with holding the Tadpole out the window to give you some dramatic "on-the-go" footage. Contact: K-Tek, ktekbooms.com.

Filmtools Gripper
3025 Suction Cup Mount
One especially interesting use for compact HD cameras is time-lapse and so-called "drive-lapse" moviemaking. You can keep your DSLR free to shoot whatever comes along while setting the compact HD camera to shoot the time-lapse frames. Drive-lapse is the name given to time-lapse shot while a car is in motion. Think of those YouTube videos that show a cross-country drive in three minutes. As a nature photographer driving into the backcountry, you can set up the Contour or GoPro on a suction cup mount and shoot your entire excursion in the time-lapse mode and put together a nice two-minute drive-lapse of the trek. Give it a try. It's pretty fun, and your friends and family will love it. There are a lot of suction cup mounts available. One heavy-duty model that can accommodate a DSLR, as well as the compact video camera, is the Filmtools Gripper 3025 Suction Cup Mount. Contact: Filmtools, www.filmtools.com.

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32
Car-Camping Necessities
One of the best aspects of a road trip is that if you come across a scene in the afternoon that you think will look great at dawn, you can decide to make an impromptu overnight stop and your car can serve as a shelter. It may not be the most comfortable bed, but sometimes these are the small prices we pay for truly special landscape photographs. Having a sleeping bag tucked into the car goes a long way toward making a cool night comfortable; there's really no need not to have one. The Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 is a down bag that fits snugly and keeps you warm down to some pretty chilly temperatures. Of course, it's also a solid tent-camping sleeping bag should you be doing some backpacking. Contact: Mountain Hardwear, www.mountainhardwear.com.


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