Build a bet­ter bean­bag

Make yourself a piece of es­sen­tial wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy kit – it’s so easy!

NPhoto - - Contents -

We all know that pros rely on tripods for sharper im­ages, but they aren’t al­ways a good choice. They can be tricky to use in tight spa­ces or when you need to be flex­i­ble with shoot­ing po­si­tions.

Luck­ily there’s a great al­ter­na­tive that can save your pho­tos from the dreaded cam­era shake: a sim­ple bean­bag. Prop it and your D-SLR against a post, tree or car win­dow and it’ll help to steady your shots, even for longer ex­po­sures. Al­ter­na­tively, you can rest your Nikon on a bean­bag on the ground for added pro­tec­tion when tak­ing low-level shots – it’s a lot eas­ier than get­ting a tri­pod down to ground level.

A bean­bag is an es­sen­tial part of any wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher’s kit, but there’s no need to go out and buy one; it’s re­ally easy to make your own, and you prob­a­bly have all the things you need ly­ing around the house to whip up your own DIY bag in min­utes.

To start with, you’ll need two large rec­tan­gles of ma­te­rial. Any­thing rel­a­tively thick is great – we used felt as it’s easy to cut and sew, but denim or waxed ma­te­rial is great too. (Chop

Prop it and your D-SLR against a post, tree or car win­dow and it’ll help to steady your shots, even for longer ex­po­sures… You can rest your Nikon on a bean­bag on the ground

the lower leg off an old pair of trousers and the side seam will be ready-sewn!) You’ll also need scis­sors, a nee­dle and thread. If your sewing is a bit rusty, there are lots of easy-to­fol­low tu­to­ri­als on YouTube.

When it comes to choos­ing a fill­ing for your bean­bag, any dried beans and grains will work well. Smaller pulses such as lentils and rice are great as they’ll make your bag more mal­leable. Beans can go musty, so never put your bean­bag away while damp.

We headed to Cotswold Wildlife Park to have a go at mak­ing our own bean­bag, then got busy test­ing our fin­ished mas­ter­piece out on fences and walls, shoot­ing the wildlife park’s res­i­dent meerkats, red pan­das and ex­otic birds.

Your bean­bag needs to have enough ‘give’ to en­able your cam­era to sit se­curely

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