…morning light is magic…

Down and Dirty

I’ve had some requests to show my ground pod set up so here are a few shots of me laying in the muck at Bolviar Flats.  Taken by my best photo bud, Sheldon Morton, these show the typical stuff that we lay in at Bolivar to get eye level with the shorebirds.  Some areas aren’t too bad with just sand and salt water but others like this area are a little more challenging.  While walking off shore to get to this area, I sunk down in the mud several inches and barely was able to pull my feet out.  It helps in the winter to wear waders to keep the bottom half dry.  Summer is messier when I just wear jeans.  The sand, muck and salt water seems to get every where including the camera equipment.

I’ve tried my regular tripod once there to get this low but it doesn’t move around easily enough to keep up with the action.  The “skimmer” ground pod is easily pushed around and is easy to pick up, except when it acts like a suction cup in the mud.

My coat was open in the last shot due to my zipper breaking at the start of the day.  Not a good sign.  Luckily that it was only in the mid 40’s or it would have been a little chilly.  I should have bailed at that point but it got more interesting when I got a screw loose, literally.  The screw that holds my lens plate on loosened up and everything shifted around.  Had to take it apart to hand hold the camera.  Decided then that it was a good time to bail to Anahuac NWR. 

These photos remind me how gray my hair is and how much I need a much longer lens…

15 responses

  1. The ground pod is the only way to go. “Down and Dirty”. Nice photos, sure would hate to clean the cloths.

    February 1, 2011 at 8:03 am

    • Thanks David. I’ve learned to hose them down before I go into the house, rinse them out in the sink again and then do my own laundry. Not gonna make my wife deal with the muck.

      February 1, 2011 at 8:16 am

  2. Dan

    I use the over priced skimmer ii which works well with the wimberly ii…

    I’ve also been using a thin air mat from academy to lay on… Not only does it keep you dry and clean, its soft for long lays…

    February 1, 2011 at 8:57 am

    • Interesting concept with the air mat. Thanks for the tip.

      February 2, 2011 at 4:48 am

  3. Patti Edens

    Tim, Wheeeeee. Brings back memories of a fun morning. I think you picked one of the muckiest places out there for these photos! Truth in advertising and all that… 🙂 My compliments to Sheldon! He captured the experience well.

    February 1, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    • I had better luck with the birds on the day that you came along. Have you been back with your skimmer?

      February 2, 2011 at 4:47 am

  4. Jim Bridges

    I don’t mind crawling around in the wet grass and dirt to get my bug and flower photos at BBSP but I’m going to let you have the sand and saltwater.

    February 1, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    • Come on Jim. It’s fun to get dirty. Just like playing in the mud as a kid. Just a royal pain to clean up.

      February 2, 2011 at 4:46 am

  5. I was thinking, if you ever get tired of being a Chemical Engineer, there is always Mud Wrestling……..:)

    Honestly though…….I didn’t realize how muddy you looked until I saw these pictures. Of course, you did almost sink to your knees walking out there.

    February 1, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    • I wouldn’t make a good mud wrestler as worn out as I got trying to walk in it. I’ll just stick to laying in it.

      February 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm

  6. Patrick Reames

    Good grief man…I was certain you had some secret to getting down low that wouldn’t entail you getting filthy from head to toe, and I was determined to figure out what it was. Clearly, I was wrong.

    But, I am still trying to figure out how you manage to operate without getting your hands so filthy that it mucks up the 7D and the lens…

    February 2, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    • Hey Patrick. No secret, just sand, water and muck. It took some practice but the key to not trashing the camera is to keep your hands as clean as possible. When I get down or back up, I grab the base on the ground pod. Helps some but it’s a given the camera and lens will get dirty. Goes with the territory.

      February 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm

  7. Wow..that is quite muddy ! You need a duck blind to be able to change clothes. I noticed the soft box flash that you have, and saw someone that also had that with the bald eagles at Conowingo last week. It obviously helps or you wouldn’t use it. Do you use it with every shot?

    December 5, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    • That’s a “Better Beamer” flash extender, which give you much more reach on your flash for longer distance fill flash. I don’t use it on every shot. Haven’t used it at all since getting my 500mm lens. It works great and is highly recommended for only $40.

      December 5, 2012 at 8:21 pm

      • Wow – that is really interesting. Thank you so very much for corresponding with me. It helps to learn from the experts !

        December 6, 2012 at 7:05 am

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