Gear Thoughts

Just like my old blog,, I will talk about gear from time to time. I am uninterested in just doing gear to show off gear. Any gear I mention here will be gear I have used in the field and find useful. I find it hard to then say, "You should get this", because I have no idea if it will fit the way you like to work or not. However, I will tell you straight what works for me. 

I have been playing around with an interesting product called the Puffin Pad ( made by a couple of excellent wildlife photographers from Florida, Ken Blye and Wayne Bennett. This is a low-cost, very lightweight camera support for the car. It fits over an open window and the door to provide a solid support for a telephoto lens when you are driving through a wildlife refuge (solid, that is, as long as you turn the car off when you want to photograph!). While I have shot from the car many times, I have not had that chance yet with the Puffin Pad -- although you can see it has been used. 

I'm actually using it a completely different way. If you have followed my work in Outdoor Photographer and in my books, you probably know I love close up work and especially close up photography from down low. One of the challenges of low work is supporting the camera. Tripods don't always set up well for really low shots and beanbags (which I love) can be too low. I often have ended up shooting from my "knee tripod" -- I brace the camera on my leg above my knee as I kneel by the subject. 

The PuffinPad happens to be just that right height! You can even stand it on its "head" to get a little more height. The support is solid and convenient. I quite like it. The unit is a little bulky to put inside a camera bag, but I have found I can thread a rope through its "window" groove, then loop that through something on my bag. The Pad itself is so lightweight that I really don't notice it. I sometimes even forget it is there and start shooting without it before I remember (my mom always did call me a little absent-minded).

For its very reasonable price, this little camera support is worth a look by wildlife and flower photographers, especially. 

About Rob

I am proud of the work I have done as a photographer, author, naturalist and nature photographer, editor and videographer. I love the natural world, and that can be a native bee in my native plants garden as much as a visit to a national park. I am a husband of a beautiful and smart wife, a father to my outstanding son and daughter, and one who lived in Minnesota most of my life, but now loves the variety and very long growing season of Southern California. I have written and photographed a lot of books and magazine articles but what is most important to me about them is knowing that I have helped people become better photographers and gain a better connection to nature. I work to help people connect with photography and nature through speaking and as a workshop leader, too. All of this has gained me a Fellow award with the North American Nature Photography Association. Many people knew me as the long-time editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine and I am still connected with them as a contributing editor. A short list of some of the books I have done: Landscape Photography: From Snapshot to Great Shot, Magic of Digital Landscape Photography, The Magic of Digital Nature Photography, National Geographic Field Guide to Digital Photography, The Power of Black-and-White in Nature Photography and Reports from the Field (an iBook). My website is at; my blogs are at and
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One Response to Gear Thoughts

  1. Jim Hendon says:

    Hi Rob -- Checking in to see what you are up to these days. I've been
    looking at putting together a panel program on iPhone photography and
    recall someone said you are a big advocate of iPhone macro these days. Is
    that right. Thanks.

    Jim Hendon
    Redlands Camera Club

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