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Author Topic: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?  (Read 31203 times)
NancyP
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« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2013, 04:53:47 PM »
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For those campers and top-of-van sleepers, this is a 3.5" thick inflatable mattress with an R value of 5 (ok to 15 degrees F in theory, though I would have an extra closed cell pad "just in case"). This is a cozy mattress with slightly elevated edges and with good support, so you stay put in the middle. If you are used to closed cell foam or 1" air mattresses, you  would be startled at how comfortable this pad is. It isn't an ultra-light by any means at 25 oz, though there is a Q Core UL at 17 oz, still pretty heavy compared with true UL pads. I pimped my pad with a battery operated 3 oz air pump - fills pad in 5 minutes.
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Chairman Bill
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« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2013, 05:03:58 PM »
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The Exped Downmats would do very nicely
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wildlightphoto
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« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2013, 05:19:15 PM »
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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.

You probably should think about stabilizing jacks for the van too.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2013, 05:41:51 PM »
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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.

There's no perfect vehicle, but there is a perfect vehicle for you.  (and me, since you agree with my list)  There's just not one perfect vehicle that suits everybody.

I wore out three Asstros and two E250s before I finally found the perfect vehicle for landscape photography.  : )  It just wasn't available back then.  But it is now.  It's a European LCV "Light Commercial Vehicle" made by Mercedes Benz.  The Sprinter carries Dodge badging, but it's a Merc, through and through. 

You get a lovely little five-hole diesel and a six-speed tranny that combine to deliver great performance and nearly 30 miles per USG, if you treat it really nicely.  It has really long legs.  I can easily go a thousand kilometers (600 miles) on a tank.

It has quite high ground clearance and the view out the windshield is without peer, and that's the point, isn't it?

Maybe best feauture of all, you can stand up and walk around inside.  Six feet of headroom.  Imagine!

You can see it in this thread:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=73877.0

and you can learn all about them here:

http://sprinter-source.com/forum/index.php


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I do use an Engle cooler in my van

On my list.  So far, I just use a very well insulated ice box, but I can see the need.  Being able to make ice would be a good thing, especially on those summer evenings in the desert.


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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..

Always a problem.  I hate even leaving it for a minute, especially in urban areas.  I trust that the kind of people that frequent the remote sites are honest.  Elsewhere, there's nothing much you can do, other than get a really big, loud dog.  Fortunately, people seem to ignore me.  I've slept in some pretty weird places in cities and it seems you're just invisible.

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I just want to get in go on the cheap.
Used Sprinters are out there.  Fifteen large would get you a reliable ride and you'd never pay for a motel again.  They are a bit of a princess, though.  The older ones are better, but the current models are loaded with drivetrain management computers, anti-pollution junk and tons of stuff nobody can fix unless they have the proper diagnostic tools.  Something to think about when you're parked somewhere miles from anywhere else.

I'm off to the desert with two new cameras and two new lenses in about a month.  Can't wait.
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David Sutton
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« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2013, 06:40:32 PM »
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The idea of being able to sleep on location is very appealing. Get up at 4 am, take photos, go back to bed.
I was about to go for a 4wd campervan until I realised most have such a long overhang on the rear that they won't manage streams without scraping the back off coming back up.
So while I think about building my own camper, I've gone for a Subaru Outback. Economical enough for a 4wd, drives well around town and will easily go through a foot and a half of water and climb up a river bank without too much scraping at the back. The little extra height over the Forrester makes a difference. A folding ladder over the roof has come in handy.
But I don't think I'd want to sleep in it.
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FredBGG
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« Reply #25 on: February 14, 2013, 03:02:28 AM »
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Vehicles scar the landscape.

For me a small footprint road car.... beyond the road I use my legs.
Nice long hike is part of the landscape experience for me.
I enjoy the long hike with my assistants.... Simba and Dakota.... I miss my ex assistant.... Boss



Security is not an issue with them  Wink

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KLaban
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« Reply #26 on: February 14, 2013, 03:08:05 AM »
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Shank's pony.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #27 on: February 14, 2013, 03:58:42 AM »
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The question is a bit of a "horses for courses" type of question.

It really depends on where you want to go and what it takes to get you there.
If you can do blacktop to within a kilometre or two of where you need to shoot (perhaps further if one is an avid hiker) then the most economical vehicle that can carry you and your equipment is the one you want.
However, if your locations are hundreds of kilometres (or just as otherwise inaccessible) from the blacktop then a dedicated 4X4 is what you want. In Australia, where I come from, there are really only two easily purchasable vehicles that really fit the bill: the diesel Toyota Landruiser (preferably the 70 series) and the diesel Nissan Patrol GU. The newest Landcruiser and Patrol wagons look really nice but are very heavy with a minimal payload - exactly hopeless for long distance offroad touring. The new Patrol is not even available as a diesel version - another killer for long distance offroad touring.
A diesel Ford F-250 custom is also an option as a long distance offroad tourer.
Jeeps may fit the bill, they are tough offroad vehicles, but I am not informed about whether they may be suitable as long distance offroad tourers.
There are many (most on offer in fact) vehicles out with with 4X4 transmissions that are hopeless as long distance offroad tourers for a myriad of reasons so don't be fooled.

There may be more to your question than is currently obvious so feel free to explain further.
(BTW offroad to me does not mean carving up virgin bush it means following tracks already made as far as possible and not behaving like a lout.)

Tony Jay
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 04:35:32 AM by Tony Jay » Logged
niznai
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« Reply #28 on: February 14, 2013, 05:58:00 AM »
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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?


Ha. That is the beauty of the 2CV. They don't need spares. Here's one example:

http://hackaday.com/2012/05/21/man-stranded-in-the-desert-makes-a-motorcycle-from-his-broken-car/

Your sleeping bag fits perfectly in the back if you take the seat out (allow about 30 seconds for that). Better still, sleep outside. Just as comfortable.

Short of buying an armoured car, any glass is fair game if someone really wants your stuff. Don't leave it in when you go away.
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OldRoy
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« Reply #29 on: February 14, 2013, 12:03:12 PM »
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Well, I used this for various applications including landscape photography (but mostly mining) back in the 70s in Tasmania. We actually had two of them, a flatbed and a tipper, which is the one shown - just after we bought it in 1978. 1944 Studebaker 2 1/2 ton 6x6's with PTO winches. There's a lot of landscape in Tasmania and most of it's pretty wild; at one point we hauled 6 tons of generator and armoured cable through about 30 miles of forest, beach and river on one of these - you could hear the rivets popping out of the chassis like gunshots. 7 litre side-valve engines consume about a gallon of gas every four miles in those conditions so it's not exactly a "green" vehicle, colour aside. Unbelievably it still runs, I think, (I last drove it in 2001) although like me it doesn't look as good as it did back then. At the time we were using these as working vehicles we also had a cut-down Bren Carrier for recreational use...
Roy
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #30 on: February 14, 2013, 01:34:00 PM »
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Heh.  That vehicle would certainly make it to The Racetrack.  My Sprinter didn't.  Sad
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Jerry Clement
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« Reply #31 on: February 14, 2013, 02:44:45 PM »
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I am sure everyone has a perfect vehicle in mind, and after making my decision, and it being 6 months later. I like the choice I went with.
1- It had to get decent milage for what it is, and the Avalanche is best in class at 30 mpg.
2- I needed a 4 wheel drive for the backroads that I find myself on
3- I needed a double cab, required to spread my camera gear throughout, as I shoot from my truck a lot.
4 I really like the folding center seat with its great work area, that also holds 3 lens in place ready for use.
5- It had to be ham radio friendly which it iis.
6 I needed a vehicle that allows me to sleep in it, so that I am ready to hit the road at first light, and it does this nicely with its midgate, and folding rear seat.
6- I needed a elevated platform to shoot from, and the tonneau cover over the cargo area is rated for 250 pounds, and allows foe shooting over crowds, security fences, and....well you get my drift.
7- I can go on if you wish.

« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 07:30:22 PM by Jerry Clement » Logged

NancyP
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« Reply #32 on: February 14, 2013, 03:03:50 PM »
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Are you sure it's 30mpg? This doesn't sound right, as the 4 cylinder low power AWD cars are 30mpg combined.
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Jerry Clement
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« Reply #33 on: February 14, 2013, 03:24:11 PM »
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Yes, as I did my homework before I made the purchase of the 2012 Avalanche.
Here's the deal, The Avalanche has a 5.3L V8 engine coupled to a 6 speed automatic trans, and has the optional 3.08 gears front & rear (higher gear ratio than stock, allowing the engine to turn at a slower rpm for better fuel economy, I have no plans on pulling a trailer).
At 110 kilometers per hour, the engine is turning a sedait 1400 rpm, and with no load or very little load on the vehicle, like on a level road, or in town the V8 becomes a V4 (when in this mode, the information center on the dash indicates this) through computer firing management, with 4 cylinders not firing, and saving on fuel. The Avalanche being a flex fuel vehicle, also burns ethanol where available.
The Avalanche is rated at 21 mpg in town, and 30 mpg on the road, and comes very close to this.
Remember, in Canada our Imp gallon is 4.5 liters.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 07:27:20 PM by Jerry Clement » Logged

arlon
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« Reply #34 on: February 14, 2013, 04:47:28 PM »
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Great economy on the avalanche! Wish I could swap that eco friendly engine into my van! I have a friend with an older Avalanche and it has never seen more than 18mpg, technology is a good thing on the newer models. He's tall and also sleeps in his truck with no problems. Pass through to the bed was a great idea on GMs part.
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Honey, did you bring an extra battery?
kencameron
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« Reply #35 on: February 14, 2013, 05:49:33 PM »
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I use a Suzuki Grand Vitara diesel. Economical and nice to drive on the highway, electronic traction control for the mud, low range gearing and diff lock for steep spots on rough tracks. I don't go off road. Clearance could be improved and it could be tougher. I carry a tent and camping gear to sleep in. Suits my budget and usage pattern, and that is the point. You need to start with a clear picture of the roads you will be driving on and the distances you will cover and the kind of trips you will be making.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #36 on: February 14, 2013, 06:07:44 PM »
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Waiting for the light.  Amboy, CA.

A single bunk behind the driver's seat is called a "gaucho". I have no idea why, but it results in massive storage under the bunk and on the wall opposite. Most of the kitchen stuff is accessed via the rear doors, but in this case the wind was too much for my propane stove so I made my supper on the floor just inside the slider.  

On another mission, friend Jon reads the instructions for the new stove.  270 degree door opening is nothing short of magic.  Why didn't the US manufacturers do this years ago?




There's plenty of room inside for a bicycle or, more often, my 125cc Honda, shown
here, near the summit of Beartooth Pass.  Elev.  approx. 11K feet.  No way would the Honda
have made it up there without a lift from Frito.




Meanwhile, back at Amboy, few hours of dawdling later, this:



Without the capacity to simply sit and wait, I'd never have seen this, much less photographed it.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 06:11:08 PM by Peter McLennan » Logged
markmullen
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« Reply #37 on: February 16, 2013, 05:37:29 PM »
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Hello all, my first post here.

I have just built a landscape photography vehicle. It is an Isuzu Trooper longwheelbase. It has switchable 4x4 with low box.

With the rear seats folded flat it has room for me to sleep. I use an American military modular sleep system which is proofed down to seriously cold temperatures (minus 50 Fahrenheit IIRC). For warmth I have insulated the windows with foil loft insulation. Recently I was out in minus 3 degrees Celsius, after 4 hours without the engine running the inside temperature was still 13 degrees Celsius.

On the roof there is a large expedition roofrack for storage. Attached to that is a bank of worklights, giving a 360 degree flood of light for packing up gear at night, cooking etc. Headlights are uprated items, together with 170 watt spotlights. Amber beacons are fitted for extra visibility in case of breakdown etc. A dual battery system is installed with heavy duty batteries. An AC/DC inverter is fitted into the rear to power my Macbook for editing on site. For safety Carbon Monoxide and smoke detectors are fitted in the cabin. A weather station is fitted, complete with outdoor sensors so I can check the weather without getting out of the warmth of my sleeping bag.

The truck has a snorkel fitted for fording streams, floods etc. Winter tyres are fitted, not studded snow tyres but winters which retain grip in dry but cold conditions.

I have a Biolite stove which generates electricity as I cook, a 12V shower which clips on to the roofrack for keeping clean and washing cooking gear. An awning clips to the roofrack for cooking under in bad weather. A 12v coolbox is on order too.

In the cab I have satnav, CD, iPod connection, iPhone charging and bluetooth comms. I have a CB fitted with a decent antennae as a backup communication system. I have a Delorme Inreach satellite communicator on order for backup comms when really out in the wild, that will go on my kitbag when I am away from the vehicle in case I suffer an emergency.

I've spent the last few months building the truck up to my spec, I had an unfortunate start to my first trip out when the engine blew (an injector broke and dropped part into the engine which then destroyed it!), I've just got it back from being repaired ready for the season ahead.

I don't know what protocol on here for posting pics is so forgive me if this is frowned upon, let me know and I will take it down.


A Minor Setback by mark_mullen, on Flickr

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tom b
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« Reply #38 on: February 16, 2013, 10:29:03 PM »
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Maybe an Ansel Adams Woodie.

Cheers,
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #39 on: February 17, 2013, 02:14:42 AM »
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Never seen a Volvo Laplander until a few seconds ago. Those are REALLY cool!
Used one at work. Oilthirsty little beast.

-h
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