Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 8 »   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?  (Read 19290 times)
arlon
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 126



WWW
« on: February 13, 2013, 08:11:42 AM »
ReplyReply

I see tons of wonderful landscape pictures here but I always wonder what got the person and their gear to the shooting location. This is the closest catagory I think of for the question. To me, my road trip vehicle is a direct part of my photography equipment. I would have no landscape photos without it.

What is your "go to" platform to get you on location?
Do you camp, hotel, etc. on location for the best light opportunities or just get up and start driving at 2AM?
Any backpackers camping on location?
Security issues for your gear (I can't usually carry all of it when I'm hiking).

I've been through several vehicles. My "go to" vehicle now is lightly modified AWD Astro van. It has room for storage of gear and I do sleep in it a lot on location. It gets me into someplaces my other vehicles would have a hard time getting into..Mileage and economy are terrible. I'm always looking for a better solution.

I want something that gets 30+ mpg, has great range, goes anywhere, can be slept in, stores all of my gear, has power for computer and such... What would make a perfect support vehicle for you?

Have you done any specific mods to your vehicle to make it more "photo" friendly?








« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 02:35:40 PM by arlon » Logged

Honey, did you bring an extra battery?
wildlightphoto
Sr. Member
****
Online Online

Posts: 584


« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2013, 08:42:55 AM »
ReplyReply

Isn't this like asking what the best camera bag is, or what the best camera is?  Tongue

Seriously, I've been looking for the same vehicle.  A compact 4wd pickup truck with a camper shell is the closest I've come up with so far.  This concept misses the 30MPG target, and another problem is that recent compact pickup trucks have ballooned to nearly full-size so I'm looking at the used/rebuildable market.
Logged
jjj
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 3078



WWW
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2013, 09:02:58 AM »
ReplyReply

Get an Earth Roamer. Company founded I believe by a photographer for exactly the task you are asking.
Though if you can afford one of these, you won't worry about MPG cost.  Shocked
One of many varieties....

« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 09:04:54 AM by jjj » Logged

Tradition is the Backbone of the Spineless.   Futt Futt Futt Photography
niznai
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 56


« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2013, 09:45:30 AM »
ReplyReply

How long is a piece of string?

Or better still what's your budget?

I wouldn't blow any serious money on such barges that don't go anywhere near a little bit of dirt. And my suggestion is try and change a wheel before you buy whatever you want. It may help you make a smart decision.

I work for an exploration company and can tell you from personal experience there aren't many places a Landcruiser won't go. But they're crap to drive on the road, and way too heavy. Personally I like to travel light and have learnt to make do with very little. A lot of people think these days you need 16 wheel drive to get anywhere. I can make do most of the time with 2WD. But if you're not happy with that, there's some nice AWD cars on the market right now and some equally good but perhaps with less creature comforts on the s/h market. But the range worth its mustard probably starts with the good old Volvo 244 (station wagon of course) and goes up from there. As far as I am concerned though, nothing above say a Forester is necessary.

A bit left field but absolutely brilliant is the trusty old 2CV. Probably the car that's been more places than any other, ever.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 09:49:56 AM by niznai » Logged
Ellis Vener
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1635



WWW
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2013, 09:51:01 AM »
ReplyReply

Honda Element with a platform on top. . Unfortunately 2012 was the last model year for the Element.
Logged

Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
wildlightphoto
Sr. Member
****
Online Online

Posts: 584


« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2013, 09:58:00 AM »
ReplyReply

Get an Earth Roamer.

A land yacht doesn't fit my concept.  Not anywhere near affordable, uses far too much fuel and other resources (it's not just the cost that bothers me), doesn't fit in tight spaces.  I'm looking for minimal transportation with space for a sleeping bag that gives me a chance at getting out when I encounter an unexpected snowstorm.

A bit left field but absolutely brilliant is the trusty old 2CV. Probably the car that's been more places than any other, ever.

Spare parts and service could be a problem in remote areas.  Where does my sleeping bag fit, and where do I lock up my cameras?

Honda Element with a platform on top. . Unfortunately 2012 was the last model year for the Element.

Nasty tendancy to roll over, especially with more weight on top.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 10:03:05 AM by wildlightphoto » Logged
Ellis Vener
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1635



WWW
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2013, 10:43:13 AM »
ReplyReply

Nasty tendancy to roll over, especially with more weight on top."

Never had that problem with mine but I dont do heavy duty  offroading.
Logged

Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
Chairman Bill
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1370


« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2013, 10:48:32 AM »
ReplyReply

Subaru Forester & a tent?
Logged
snoleoprd
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 378



WWW
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2013, 11:01:16 AM »
ReplyReply

I use a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, it is AWD, has 19inch stock rims so has ok ground clearance and I get very close to 30mpg, usually around 27 or so in hilly terrain. The hybrid part was nice it was pretty easy to sneak up on some pronghorns and the only sound was the car tires rolling on the dirt road. Later a gas engine vehicle came along the same road and they all spooked, was able to get out get a lot of decent shots. Anyways not perfect but reasonable room, I fold down the rear seats so it is one long storage/sleeping area and I can put a carrier on the roof rack if needed.

Alan
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 11:09:36 AM by snoleoprd » Logged

Alan Smallbone
Orange County, CA
arlon
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 126



WWW
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2013, 11:05:47 AM »
ReplyReply

Subaru Forester & a tent?

I was actually looking for a Forester when I stumbled across a decent van for a lot less money. Figure what I saved on the cost I'll spend in fuel. I still like the forester but I also like the interior comfort of the van when I have to sleep in it. I love parking and simply going to sleep without setting up camp.

Astro would be closer to perfect if I could figure out how to get a more economical small diesel engine in it. If it could to 25mpg it would be a great vehicle with tons of range.. But it isn't.. (-:}


Sorry, I didn't mean this a "dream vehicle" post but more of a poll of what YOU actually use and maybe what it is about that vehicle that makes it work for you.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 11:17:12 AM by arlon » Logged

Honey, did you bring an extra battery?
DeanChriss
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 246


WWW
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2013, 11:59:29 AM »
ReplyReply

My old Jeep had no room, got horrendous mileage, but would go virtually anywhere.


My old 4-runner got a few more mpg, would still go most places, and had enough room to sleep if you were desperate. I use something similar today.


The problem is that a 2-speed transfer case with low range gearing comes only in low mpg vehicles. That gearing lets you crawl at 1 mph or less with moderate engine rpm over steps and big rocks.  I don't drive truly off road for ethical reasons, but many old mining roads require this sort of drive train, very high clearance (like 10" or more), limited slip differentials, and steep approach and departure angles.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 12:21:42 PM by DeanChriss » Logged

- Dean
NancyP
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 709


« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2013, 12:21:07 PM »
ReplyReply

My 16 year old Subaru Impreza Outback is good enough for rutted dirt roads and pulling over into the weedy (shallow dry) berm by the road. I too am looking at buying a new car, though 16 years (a mere 116,000 miles) seems to be a bit young for ditching the current one. If you don't go off road and don't need clearance, a relatively low riding front wheel drive Prius V (largest) might be the thing. For my next car, I am looking at the Subaru Impreza Outback replacement, the XV Crosstrek; current Subaru Forester; next year's Forester (coming in 2 to 3 months - new engine, better mileage). For sleeping in car, well, I haven't tried it, but these are short cars, and probably not too comfortable even for a short woman. Tent is where I sleep.

I saw a very cool trailer at my local outdoor adventure shop - it belonged to a husband and wife lecturer team on tour - they were living out of the trailer for months. The car towing it was a Subaru Outback.  Cricket trailers - 1,400 to 1,800 pounds, pullable by a more powerful 4 cylinder car or SUV.  You could design option for sleeping and small table island and washstand, or other configuration. Much better for longer road trips than sleeping in back of Subaru Outback.
http://www.crickettrailer.com/
Logged
Peter McLennan
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1625


« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2013, 12:59:43 PM »
ReplyReply

Let's list the mission requirements for a Landscape Photography Vehicle.  That'll help us decide.

1) Accommodation.  If you're not on location at dawn or sunset, you've missed the best part of the photographic day.  Sure, getting up at zero dark thirty in a motel room and driving fifty miles in the dark in order to arrive at the location at dawn works. Once.  You have the same problem on the other end of the day.  Exiting a location a half hour after sunset and finding a place to eat and then a motel is equally dysfunctional.  That procedure also interferes with the "getting up at zero dark thirty" concept the next morning.  Heck, it's ALREADY the next morning. 

So you need a vehicle that provides a good night's sleep.  Preferably night after night.  Right at the location.  The closer the better.  If you awake near dawn and you can see by inspecting the sky that the light's gonna be crap, you roll over and go back to sleep.  If the sky is tinted rosy pink and there are hints of high altitude cirrus, you spring from the sack and fire up the stove for coffee and when the light arrives, you're out there, ready.

2) Sustenance.  You need to eat, preferably something tasty, nourishing and healthy.  Without it, you're not going to be at your best, work-wise.  That means you need a kitchen, however primitive.  If you're careful, you carry enough food and water for several days to provide for emergencies.  That means at the very least, a cooler of some kind, a stove, pots and pans and secure food storage.

3) Transport.  That's the whole idea in the first place, right?  The vehicle must provide comfortable, economical long distance highway transport.  Forget special purpose off-road vehicles.  98% of your driving will be on paved highway and most off-road vehicles are intolerable at highway speeds. If we're talking transcontinental missions, these constraints become even more important. If you absolutely have to get away out there, walk, get a bicycle or take a small motorcycle.  All of those will go where no 4WD would dare venture.  With a few exceptions, there are very few locations that only a 4WD vehicle can access.  The noise, vibration and harshness penalties invoked by 4WD vehicles are simply not worth it, IMHO.  And don't get me started on fuel economy.

4) Dwell time.  Let's face it.  The skies are not always filled with mare's tails.  You sometimes need to just sit and wait, maybe for a day or so.  Sitting in a motionless vehicle for a few hours can get old fast, so you need to carry a certain minimum of furniture.  A lawn chair and a small table completely transforms a location, any location, from a parking spot into a living room. Add a book and some tunes and you're golden. Ansel proved repeatedly that the best time for landscape photography is during a clearing storm.  That means that you have to be there during the storm, right?  Hopefully, the interior of the vehicle doesn't become a prison while you wait out the wind and rain.  For that, you need space.

5) Security.  Many of us have several thousand dollars worth of camera and computer gear aboard so any vehicle that draws attention to itself is out.  Above all, we need anonymity.  Inconspicuous is us, especially when our overnight locations are in urban areas, as is sometimes necessary.  A Land Rover Discovery, while a capable off-road vehicle, is a thief magnet, as are most Jeeps and the like.  I want to be able to blend into the landscape and be invisible - hiding in plain sight.
Logged
Chairman Bill
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1370


« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2013, 01:18:51 PM »
ReplyReply

Get a Volvo Laplander - as minibuses go, it's great. Tough as old boots. Stick a new VW turbo diesel engine in it & you're good to go
Logged
arlon
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 126



WWW
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2013, 02:22:02 PM »
ReplyReply

Peter, that's a good list! Very similar to the requirements I was searching for. I guess there is no perfect vehicle but some are definately better than others.

I do use an Engle cooler in my van It keeps ice for three days and plenty cool to not spoil for 5 days (of course you pay for it). I do like being close to my subjects so sleeping in the van is usually the way I go. I live in West Texas and haven't really had to deal with inclimate weather too much.

If I lived in Utah, I might have to swap a Hi-Low range transfer case in but down here on dirt roads the AWD with a rear locker is more than enough.

I'd love to do a smal turbo diesel transplant. I think that would help to satisfy my economy and range requirements.
 
Van is also not too secure. I had wanted something with a real trunk then decided I could just make a box that's going to be really hard to get into and mount that in the van. When I'm hiking, I store stuff in the "lock box".  Safe from smash and grabbers but not going to stop a serious crook with time at the remote locations I'm usually at..

If I were more project inclined, I'd love to find an old 4-runner to restore/mod to my needs but those days are gone. I just want to get in go on the cheap.


Never seen a Volvo Laplander until a few seconds ago. Those are REALLY cool!
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 02:28:17 PM by arlon » Logged

Honey, did you bring an extra battery?
arlon
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 126



WWW
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2013, 02:39:36 PM »
ReplyReply

Honda Element with a platform on top. . Unfortunately 2012 was the last model year for the Element.

I love the platform idea. I've been trying to figure out just what it would take to build a solid platform the length of my van roof. It would be useful for photography and maybe a perfect place to sleep when the weather and bugs aren't too bad.

Logged

Honey, did you bring an extra battery?
wildlightphoto
Sr. Member
****
Online Online

Posts: 584


« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2013, 03:27:23 PM »
ReplyReply

I love the platform idea.

http://www.autohomeus.com/
Logged
wildstork
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 78


WWW
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2013, 04:23:06 PM »
ReplyReply

Funny... they've been doing this very thing in South Africa for over 25 years (the roof home). 
Logged
arlon
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 126



WWW
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2013, 04:35:05 PM »
ReplyReply

Funny... they've been doing this very thing in South Africa for over 25 years (the roof home).  

I guess. More things on the ground that will eat you there than in West Texas. We just have to get above the snakes and scorpions. (-:}

Look in here at about post 18. That's the kind of rack I'm thinking about. Something to sleep on, not in and a platform to set up a tripod.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 04:38:10 PM by arlon » Logged

Honey, did you bring an extra battery?
Chairman Bill
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1370


« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2013, 04:44:49 PM »
ReplyReply

Never seen a Volvo Laplander until a few seconds ago. Those are REALLY cool!

I first saw one in Norway during an Arctic warfare training deployment. We mainly used the Volvo BM Bv 202 & later Hägglunds Bv206 'Bandvagn'. In one of the more clement, less snowy moments, a Norwegian army 'Laplander' brought a visiting senior officer. I was working with the Assault Engineer troop at the time, and we  decided we wanted Laplanders to move our kit. They're very much like the 1 tonne Landrovers, and that leads me to a serious suggestion - a 1 tonne Landy would be a great option. We generally used the soft-top variant, but signals had access to a hard-top & there was even an ambulance version too. Whether you can get hold of any in the US is of course moot, but if you can, it really is a superb piece of kit & they just keep going for ever. Parts are cheap & easy to work on too.

Soft-top
Hard-top
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 8 »   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad