Friday, November 27, 2009

Shooting Shelf DIY Blind Camera Support

Greetings to all,

I hope that everyone has been out getting some great images made. I just got back from a trip up into Northern California to do some shorebird photography. Humboldt Bay has some superb marshes for photography. Since I returned I put some more time into the blinds I have been building. Today I worked on completing one of the adjustable shooting shelves.

I believe that one of the best features that a permanent or semi permanent blind can have is a shooting shelf. A shooting shelf is an adjustable platform (table) to support your tripod head so you don't have to use a tripod in your blind. The shelf also frees you from having to fight with tripod legs while still giving you a stable platform to shoot from.

The shelf easily can easily be adjusted to the desired camera height by loosening two wing nuts, raising or lowering the shelf and then tightening the wing nuts again. A swing arm ballhead support on the shelf allows the photographer to move the camera position closer or further from the window sliders as well as to the right or left. Additionally the swing arm can be moved to the far end of the shelf to enable shooting from the side window sliders. To make full use of the side sliders the shelf can be repositioned to those windows by undoing the wing nuts and moving the shelf.

In summary the combination of the shooting shelf, swing arm ballhead and the window sliders make a blind very comfortable and easy to shoot out of. If you are planning on building a blind or want to make a nice addition to one you already have consider this feature.

God's light and love to all,


Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm Going (Blind) Crazy

Greetings to all,

Just when I thought I was through building blinds for awhile i came across a really superb blind designed and built by Mike Zurawski. In searching for blind designs on the WWW I always find a bazillion hunting blinds and hardly any designed for photography. (not that I don't like hunting) Mikes is that rare exception. He has designed an awesome photo blind. He has some other great ideas that you need to check out too as well as some really great photography. A tour of Mikes work shows that you don't have to travel all across the world to create wildlife images.

I used Mikes design for my new blind with a few changes. First I made it a little bit bigger as I'm not a little guy. Mike's is 30" x 33". I made mine 33" x 33" a small change with a big difference in that I can turn and shoot out of all the sides fairly easily. Another change that I made and not one for the better is that I used smaller wheels. I couldn't find any wheels that i could afford anyway unless I payed over thirty bucks apiece for them. So the cheap guy that I am I bought ten dollar wheels instead. I can always put on bigger ones later if I find a decent set. The most notable change that I made was that I used 1"x6" T&G sliders for the camera openings. These are really versatile especially when used in conjunction with an adjustable shooting table.

What is left to do on the blind is to paint it and add landscape fabric to the camera windows. I'm also going to add an adjustable shooting table with a ball mount on it to both blinds. As promised I will be showing you that in one of my later blogs as it is next on my list of projects to complete for both blinds. I think it is the number one feature that all permanent and semi permanent blinds should have.

God's light and love to all


Mike's blind can be seen at

Monday, November 16, 2009

DIY Winter Blind

Greetings to all photographers new and old. Well winter for me is just around the corner. With it on the way I need to be prepared for heavy down pours and the occasional snow storm. Most of my blinds are fairly waterproof but they will only put up with so much water. That is why I decided to build a new winter blind. I already had one but it was in such disrepair after all these years that I decided to build a newer and better one. One that will keep me snug and dry and be exceptionally useful for photography. Lucky for me I spent a number of days over the last few winters shooting out of the blinds at the Sacramento national Wildlife Refuge Complex. I learned a few good tricks looking at how they built their blinds.

I started off by going to the lumber yard. There I picked up a free 4' x 4' pallette. Just asked nicely and they gave it to me as they get tons daily.

My materials list
(4) sheets 3/8" plywood 4' x 8'
(8) 1' x 2" x 8' fir
(8) 2" x 4" x 8'
(3) 1" x 6" tongue and groove pine
(3) hinges

For this project i would say that you need to have some carpentry skills. I'm not a skilled woodworker but I do know how to use basic tools. So if you aren't very confident with this sort of thing just get someone to help you who is. Give them some free beer, lunch or maybe a free portrait session. Just work out some sort of a trade.

The first step was to cover the pallette with plywood. Next I framed up the sides and the stood them up. Following that I added some framing and screwed the back on. The next and most complicated step is frame the roof. Then to keep it all nice and dry I screwed on the roof and then the sides of the top. One needs to get in and out of the thing so the next job was to frame up the door and put the hinges on. After that I cut in the opening in the door the camera window. Making the slider assembly wss next on the agenda as well as cutting a small piece of plywood for the slider itself. Whoo hoo!

The last part of the project was to cut the window openings in the sides and the back. I then cut one by twos to hold the sliders for three camera openings. The final step was to cut the tongue and groove into sliders.

Obviously that is a quick description for a couple of afternoons of work. In a following blog I'll cover how to build a shooting table.

Good luck and God bless,