Wildlife Photography 101 | Bean Bag Basics How-To

Hi everybody my name is John E. Marriott and in this Wildlife photography 101 segment we’re going to talk about one of my favorite camera accessories for wildlife photography when you’re photographing from a car, and that is, a bean bag. So a bean bag is basically a little bag, It could be made out of plastic, cotton, canvas, really any sort of material, and inside is beans, or rice, or lentils, and it just allows the bag to be flexible and moldable so that you can slap it down on a windowsill, and have it form a nice little spot you can stick a lens in and photograph wildlife out of your car. You may be wondering why would I photograph Wildlife out of my car? Using your vehicle as a blind actually allows you to approach a lot of the large predators in particular, quite a bit more closely than you would otherwise. On foot a wolf might only let you get 300-400 meters away, where as in a vehicle with the vehicle turned off and you sitting there quietly putting a bean bag up on your windowsill sometimes wolves will come 25, 50 meters away from you, and you’re able to use those big lenses to photograph really nicely. So when I’ve got my beanbag set up. I can plop the camera in there and it acts just like a tripod. You can actually leave it hands off and have it sit there, or you can rotate it around and follow Wildlife around, very stable and allows you to get much lower shutter speeds than you would be able to get just hand holding out of your window. The other key thing when you’re using a bean bag, particularly on a day like today, where it’s really cold and you’re in the winter, is you got to keep your heat down really low because as soon as you open up this window and put your beanbag on it, you don’t want heat waves coming out of the car and ruining your shot. And then the final tip that I’ve got for using a bean bag, is you’ll notice on here I’ve got a bit of tape on my lens. Well that tape is to hold my focus ring so that when I’m moving my, lens back and forth on the bean bag it’s not changing my focus. So that my autofocus in the camera is allowed to work as it should and stay tracking on that wolf as it walks towards me. Thanks for watching everybody! I hope you enjoyed this little Wildlife photography 101 tip. Don’t forget to go and grab your bean bag and we’ll catch you next episode. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss it!

15 Replies to “Wildlife Photography 101 | Bean Bag Basics How-To”

  1. Thanks John. Now that I see the shape it makes more sense. I've got some canvas, some beans and I know how to use a a sewing machine. Looks out!

  2. Great tips, John. Would never have thought of the "heat waves from inside the vehicle effecting focus" tip. Very helpful!

  3. I have to ask as well, is the bag homemade or bought? I've been looking to buy one, but haven't seen one with the groove like yours. Great vid!

  4. First thing I did when the video ended was to get up and tape the manual focus ring. Excellent tip, thank you.

  5. I also find turning the car off helps with reducing vibration from the engine. Depending on which vehicle I'm in that has ruined a few of my shots shooting this way.

  6. did anyone ever find out what bag this was? I don't have a sewing machine, so I'd like to purchase one.

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