Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Cameras, Lenses and Shooting gear => Topic started by: arlon on February 13, 2013, 09:11:42 AM

Title: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on February 13, 2013, 09:11:42 AM
I see tons of wonderful landscape pictures here but I always wonder what got the person and their gear to the shooting location. This is the closest catagory I think of for the question. To me, my road trip vehicle is a direct part of my photography equipment. I would have no landscape photos without it.

What is your "go to" platform to get you on location?
Do you camp, hotel, etc. on location for the best light opportunities or just get up and start driving at 2AM?
Any backpackers camping on location?
Security issues for your gear (I can't usually carry all of it when I'm hiking).

I've been through several vehicles. My "go to" vehicle now is lightly modified AWD Astro van. It has room for storage of gear and I do sleep in it a lot on location. It gets me into someplaces my other vehicles would have a hard time getting into..Mileage and economy are terrible. I'm always looking for a better solution.

I want something that gets 30+ mpg, has great range, goes anywhere, can be slept in, stores all of my gear, has power for computer and such... What would make a perfect support vehicle for you?

Have you done any specific mods to your vehicle to make it more "photo" friendly?




(http://www.pbase.com/arlon/image/142159500/medium.jpg) (http://www.pbase.com/arlon/image/142159500/large.jpg)



(http://www.pbase.com/arlon/image/142088964/medium.jpg) (http://www.pbase.com/arlon/image/142088964/large.jpg)
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: telyt on February 13, 2013, 09:42:55 AM
Isn't this like asking what the best camera bag is, or what the best camera is?  :P

Seriously, I've been looking for the same vehicle.  A compact 4wd pickup truck with a camper shell is the closest I've come up with so far.  This concept misses the 30MPG target, and another problem is that recent compact pickup trucks have ballooned to nearly full-size so I'm looking at the used/rebuildable market.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: jjj on February 13, 2013, 10:02:58 AM
Get an Earth Roamer (http://www.earthroamer.com/model-overview/). Company founded I believe by a photographer for exactly the task you are asking.
Though if you can afford one of these, you won't worry about MPG cost.  :o
One of many varieties....

(http://survivalcache.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/earthroamer-xv-lt-dressed-SC.png)
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: niznai on February 13, 2013, 10:45:30 AM
How long is a piece of string?

Or better still what's your budget?

I wouldn't blow any serious money on such barges that don't go anywhere near a little bit of dirt. And my suggestion is try and change a wheel before you buy whatever you want. It may help you make a smart decision.

I work for an exploration company and can tell you from personal experience there aren't many places a Landcruiser won't go. But they're crap to drive on the road, and way too heavy. Personally I like to travel light and have learnt to make do with very little. A lot of people think these days you need 16 wheel drive to get anywhere. I can make do most of the time with 2WD. But if you're not happy with that, there's some nice AWD cars on the market right now and some equally good but perhaps with less creature comforts on the s/h market. But the range worth its mustard probably starts with the good old Volvo 244 (station wagon of course) and goes up from there. As far as I am concerned though, nothing above say a Forester is necessary.

A bit left field but absolutely brilliant is the trusty old 2CV. Probably the car that's been more places than any other, ever.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Ellis Vener on February 13, 2013, 10:51:01 AM
Honda Element with a platform on top. . Unfortunately 2012 was the last model year for the Element.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: telyt on February 13, 2013, 10:58:00 AM
Get an Earth Roamer (http://www.earthroamer.com/model-overview/).

A land yacht doesn't fit my concept.  Not anywhere near affordable, uses far too much fuel and other resources (it's not just the cost that bothers me), doesn't fit in tight spaces.  I'm looking for minimal transportation with space for a sleeping bag that gives me a chance at getting out when I encounter an unexpected snowstorm.

A bit left field but absolutely brilliant is the trusty old 2CV. Probably the car that's been more places than any other, ever.

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?

Honda Element with a platform on top. . Unfortunately 2012 was the last model year for the Element.

Nasty tendancy to roll over, especially with more weight on top.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Ellis Vener on February 13, 2013, 11:43:13 AM
Nasty tendancy to roll over, especially with more weight on top."

Never had that problem with mine but I dont do heavy duty  offroading.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 13, 2013, 11:48:32 AM
Subaru Forester & a tent?
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Alan Smallbone on February 13, 2013, 12:01:16 PM
I use a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, it is AWD, has 19inch stock rims so has ok ground clearance and I get very close to 30mpg, usually around 27 or so in hilly terrain. The hybrid part was nice it was pretty easy to sneak up on some pronghorns and the only sound was the car tires rolling on the dirt road. Later a gas engine vehicle came along the same road and they all spooked, was able to get out get a lot of decent shots. Anyways not perfect but reasonable room, I fold down the rear seats so it is one long storage/sleeping area and I can put a carrier on the roof rack if needed.

Alan
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on February 13, 2013, 12:05:47 PM
Subaru Forester & a tent?

I was actually looking for a Forester when I stumbled across a decent van for a lot less money. Figure what I saved on the cost I'll spend in fuel. I still like the forester but I also like the interior comfort of the van when I have to sleep in it. I love parking and simply going to sleep without setting up camp.

Astro would be closer to perfect if I could figure out how to get a more economical small diesel engine in it. If it could to 25mpg it would be a great vehicle with tons of range.. But it isn't.. (-:}


Sorry, I didn't mean this a "dream vehicle" post but more of a poll of what YOU actually use and maybe what it is about that vehicle that makes it work for you.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: DeanChriss on February 13, 2013, 12:59:29 PM
My old Jeep had no room, got horrendous mileage, but would go virtually anywhere.
(http://www.dmcphoto.com/Articles/PhotoTravel/Jeep.jpg)

My old 4-runner got a few more mpg, would still go most places, and had enough room to sleep if you were desperate. I use something similar today.
(http://www.dmcphoto.com/Articles/PhotoTravel/Toyota.jpg)

The problem is that a 2-speed transfer case with low range gearing comes only in low mpg vehicles. That gearing lets you crawl at 1 mph or less with moderate engine rpm over steps and big rocks.  I don't drive truly off road for ethical reasons, but many old mining roads require this sort of drive train, very high clearance (like 10" or more), limited slip differentials, and steep approach and departure angles.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: NancyP on February 13, 2013, 01:21:07 PM
My 16 year old Subaru Impreza Outback is good enough for rutted dirt roads and pulling over into the weedy (shallow dry) berm by the road. I too am looking at buying a new car, though 16 years (a mere 116,000 miles) seems to be a bit young for ditching the current one. If you don't go off road and don't need clearance, a relatively low riding front wheel drive Prius V (largest) might be the thing. For my next car, I am looking at the Subaru Impreza Outback replacement, the XV Crosstrek; current Subaru Forester; next year's Forester (coming in 2 to 3 months - new engine, better mileage). For sleeping in car, well, I haven't tried it, but these are short cars, and probably not too comfortable even for a short woman. Tent is where I sleep.

I saw a very cool trailer at my local outdoor adventure shop - it belonged to a husband and wife lecturer team on tour - they were living out of the trailer for months. The car towing it was a Subaru Outback.  Cricket trailers - 1,400 to 1,800 pounds, pullable by a more powerful 4 cylinder car or SUV.  You could design option for sleeping and small table island and washstand, or other configuration. Much better for longer road trips than sleeping in back of Subaru Outback.
http://www.crickettrailer.com/
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on February 13, 2013, 01:59:43 PM
Let's list the mission requirements for a Landscape Photography Vehicle.  That'll help us decide.

1) Accommodation.  If you're not on location at dawn or sunset, you've missed the best part of the photographic day.  Sure, getting up at zero dark thirty in a motel room and driving fifty miles in the dark in order to arrive at the location at dawn works. Once.  You have the same problem on the other end of the day.  Exiting a location a half hour after sunset and finding a place to eat and then a motel is equally dysfunctional.  That procedure also interferes with the "getting up at zero dark thirty" concept the next morning.  Heck, it's ALREADY the next morning. 

So you need a vehicle that provides a good night's sleep.  Preferably night after night.  Right at the location.  The closer the better.  If you awake near dawn and you can see by inspecting the sky that the light's gonna be crap, you roll over and go back to sleep.  If the sky is tinted rosy pink and there are hints of high altitude cirrus, you spring from the sack and fire up the stove for coffee and when the light arrives, you're out there, ready.

2) Sustenance.  You need to eat, preferably something tasty, nourishing and healthy.  Without it, you're not going to be at your best, work-wise.  That means you need a kitchen, however primitive.  If you're careful, you carry enough food and water for several days to provide for emergencies.  That means at the very least, a cooler of some kind, a stove, pots and pans and secure food storage.

3) Transport.  That's the whole idea in the first place, right?  The vehicle must provide comfortable, economical long distance highway transport.  Forget special purpose off-road vehicles.  98% of your driving will be on paved highway and most off-road vehicles are intolerable at highway speeds. If we're talking transcontinental missions, these constraints become even more important. If you absolutely have to get away out there, walk, get a bicycle or take a small motorcycle.  All of those will go where no 4WD would dare venture.  With a few exceptions, there are very few locations that only a 4WD vehicle can access.  The noise, vibration and harshness penalties invoked by 4WD vehicles are simply not worth it, IMHO.  And don't get me started on fuel economy.

4) Dwell time.  Let's face it.  The skies are not always filled with mare's tails.  You sometimes need to just sit and wait, maybe for a day or so.  Sitting in a motionless vehicle for a few hours can get old fast, so you need to carry a certain minimum of furniture.  A lawn chair and a small table completely transforms a location, any location, from a parking spot into a living room. Add a book and some tunes and you're golden. Ansel proved repeatedly that the best time for landscape photography is during a clearing storm.  That means that you have to be there during the storm, right?  Hopefully, the interior of the vehicle doesn't become a prison while you wait out the wind and rain.  For that, you need space.

5) Security.  Many of us have several thousand dollars worth of camera and computer gear aboard so any vehicle that draws attention to itself is out.  Above all, we need anonymity.  Inconspicuous is us, especially when our overnight locations are in urban areas, as is sometimes necessary.  A Land Rover Discovery, while a capable off-road vehicle, is a thief magnet, as are most Jeeps and the like.  I want to be able to blend into the landscape and be invisible - hiding in plain sight.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 13, 2013, 02:18:51 PM
Get a Volvo Laplander - as minibuses go, it's great. Tough as old boots. Stick a new VW turbo diesel engine in it & you're good to go
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on February 13, 2013, 03:22:02 PM
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.

I do use an Engle cooler in my van It keeps ice for three days and plenty cool to not spoil for 5 days (of course you pay for it). I do like being close to my subjects so sleeping in the van is usually the way I go. I live in West Texas and haven't really had to deal with inclimate weather too much.

If I lived in Utah, I might have to swap a Hi-Low range transfer case in but down here on dirt roads the AWD with a rear locker is more than enough.

I'd love to do a smal turbo diesel transplant. I think that would help to satisfy my economy and range requirements.
 
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..

If I were more project inclined, I'd love to find an old 4-runner to restore/mod to my needs but those days are gone. I just want to get in go on the cheap.


Never seen a Volvo Laplander until a few seconds ago. Those are REALLY cool!
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on February 13, 2013, 03:39:36 PM
Honda Element with a platform on top. . Unfortunately 2012 was the last model year for the Element.

I love the platform idea. I've been trying to figure out just what it would take to build a solid platform the length of my van roof. It would be useful for photography and maybe a perfect place to sleep when the weather and bugs aren't too bad.

Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: telyt on February 13, 2013, 04:27:23 PM
I love the platform idea.

http://www.autohomeus.com/
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: wildstork on February 13, 2013, 05:23:06 PM
Funny... they've been doing this very thing in South Africa for over 25 years (the roof home). 
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on February 13, 2013, 05:35:05 PM
Funny... they've been doing this very thing in South Africa for over 25 years (the roof home).  

I guess. More things on the ground that will eat you there than in West Texas. We just have to get above the snakes and scorpions. (-:}

Look in here (http://www.yotatech.com/f2/show-me-your-safari-rack-your-3rd-gen-4runner-158095/) 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.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 13, 2013, 05:44:49 PM
Never seen a Volvo Laplander until a few seconds ago. Those are REALLY cool!

I first saw one in Norway during an Arctic warfare training deployment. We mainly used the Volvo BM Bv 202 & later Hägglunds Bv206 'Bandvagn'. In one of the more clement, less snowy moments, a Norwegian army 'Laplander' brought a visiting senior officer. I was working with the Assault Engineer troop at the time, and we  decided we wanted Laplanders to move our kit. They're very much like the 1 tonne Landrovers, and that leads me to a serious suggestion - a 1 tonne Landy would be a great option. We generally used the soft-top variant, but signals had access to a hard-top & there was even an ambulance version too. Whether you can get hold of any in the US is of course moot, but if you can, it really is a superb piece of kit & they just keep going for ever. Parts are cheap & easy to work on too.

Soft-top (http://www.ianhardy.net/gallery/main.php/d/19647-2/R0E8236.jpg)
Hard-top (http://free.yudu.com/item_files/84383/a4a91860d/72FL06.jpg)
Title: OT - Amazing sleeping pad - Big Agnes Q Core series
Post by: NancyP on February 13, 2013, 05:53:47 PM
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.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Chairman Bill on February 13, 2013, 06:03:58 PM
The Exped Downmats would do very nicely
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: telyt on February 13, 2013, 06:19:15 PM
Look in here (http://www.yotatech.com/f2/show-me-your-safari-rack-your-3rd-gen-4runner-158095/) 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.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on February 13, 2013, 06:41:51 PM
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


Quote
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.


Quote
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.

Quote
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.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: David Sutton on February 13, 2013, 07:40:32 PM
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.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: FredBGG on February 14, 2013, 04:02:28 AM
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

(http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/images24/LakotaMastinoBoss.jpg)

Security is not an issue with them  ;)

Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Tony Jay on February 14, 2013, 04:58:42 AM
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
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: niznai on February 14, 2013, 06:58:00 AM

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.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: OldRoy on February 14, 2013, 01:03:12 PM
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
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on February 14, 2013, 02:34:00 PM
Heh.  That vehicle would certainly make it to The Racetrack.  My Sprinter didn't.  :(
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Jerry Clement on February 14, 2013, 03:44:45 PM
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.

(http://www.jerryclement.ca/HamRadio/HamRadio/i-K5BN3F4/0/L/6N4A3068-L.jpg) (http://www.jerryclement.ca/HamRadio/HamRadio/10282516_SCgV88#!i=2433255677&k=K5BN3F4&lb=1&s=A)
Title: Re: Avalanche mpg
Post by: NancyP on February 14, 2013, 04:03:50 PM
Are you sure it's 30mpg? This doesn't sound right, as the 4 cylinder low power AWD cars are 30mpg combined.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Jerry Clement on February 14, 2013, 04:24:11 PM
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.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on February 14, 2013, 05:47:28 PM
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.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: kencameron on February 14, 2013, 06:49:33 PM
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.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on February 14, 2013, 07:07:44 PM
(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5268/5641613036_babf788033_b.jpg)
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?

(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3491/3753020208_2e6327c3de_z.jpg)


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.

(http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4098/4942984545_ac357ff49e_b.jpg)


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

(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5222/5641043623_473a418e1b_b.jpg)

Without the capacity to simply sit and wait, I'd never have seen this, much less photographed it.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: markmullen on February 16, 2013, 06:37:29 PM
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.

(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8350/8161218288_4a1d1d5a6c.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/markmullen/8161218288/)
A Minor Setback (http://www.flickr.com/photos/markmullen/8161218288/) by mark_mullen (http://www.flickr.com/people/markmullen/), on Flickr

Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: tom b on February 16, 2013, 11:29:03 PM
Maybe an Ansel Adams Woodie (https://www.google.com.au/search?q=ansel+adams+woody&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=81sgUeP6GM6ZmQXIloG4Aw&ved=0CEAQsAQ&biw=1065&bih=1221#imgrc=ZTzR-w40k-koGM%3A%3Bpc2Rwzx5X_BWhM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fi478.photobucket.com%252Falbums%252Frr142%252F07P51%252FFamily%252FAnselAdams.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fdiecastramblings.com%252Fforums%252Ftopic.asp%253FTOPIC_ID%253D1698%3B639%3B462).

Cheers,
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: hjulenissen on February 17, 2013, 03:14:42 AM
Never seen a Volvo Laplander until a few seconds ago. Those are REALLY cool!
Used one at work. Oilthirsty little beast.

-h
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: bretedge on February 17, 2013, 11:26:00 PM
I'm in the process of building up my 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser into the "Ultimate Off-Road Vehicle for Outdoor Photographers".  Certainly, this is a subjective topic as we each have our own considerations and requirements.  Mine revolve less around fuel economy and more around getting deep into areas only accessible by very capable 4 wheel drive vehicles or extremely long and committing backpacking trips (some times both!).  However, Project FJ focuses on the specific needs of outdoor photographers to include shelter and powering your equipment when in the wilderness.  Some of what I discuss applies to any vehicle used by outdoor photographers.

If you'd like to read more about the project and follow along on its progress you may do so on my blog (http://blog.bretedge.com/2012/08/15/building-the-ultimate-off-road-vehicle-for-outdoor-photography/).
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Alto on February 18, 2013, 09:01:05 AM
Hi All

These seem nice


http://www.unicat.net/en/


enjoy

Jon
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: TMARK on February 18, 2013, 09:23:21 AM
We had two Sprinters for production.  One was outfitted with an editing station, the other for transport.  Wonderful, comfortable vehicle.


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


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.


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.
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.

Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Dan Berg on February 18, 2013, 10:08:46 AM
Guess I will jump in with my on going project.
1984 motorhome never ending restoration.
With only 40,000 miles on the frame it looked like a pretty good unit for my solar rv project.
Started with the engine which had nothing wrong with it but still needed a little fine tuning.
Fuel mileage was at about 8 and my friend mechanic had several ideas to improve on that.
We tore off the entire single exhaust system and replaced it with a custom made dual system.
 The next step was to drill the jets out on the 2 barrel carb which was a whole lot cheaper then replacing the manifold just so it would take a 4 barrel.
Highway mileage is now about 11mpg and has so much more power.
Since I did not want a generator our next step was the solar system. We installed 2 Sharp 240 watt panels with Outback inverter charger.
Outback makes quite a system ,Flexnet dc,Mx60 charge controller,Mate 2 system controller and VFX 2812m inverter charger.
Not done yet we tore out the stock alternator and replaced it with a new unit with the internals disconnected.
The newly installed Balmer mc-612 digital regulator is now connected via a shunt back through the Outback and battery system.
Driving down the road with no sun the Balmer charges the batteries through the Outback.
With no generator required we used that bay for the battery system. 6-trojan 106's.
Losing you yet?
3 ways to charge the battery system. Solar,running the engine and plugging into shore power all can charge the batteries.
If you have sun you never run out of power. Cloudy day or two just start the motor home up and charge the batteries.
Boondocking with all the comforts of home,no grid electric required!
Tons of space for equipment storage as well as a place to eat,sleep,cook and shower.
Installing some lock boxes for photo gear.
A couple more things to fix up and out to southern Utah we go.
Time to start looking for property in St. George,Hurricane or Cedar City,Ut.
Any suggestions
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: lfeagan on February 18, 2013, 06:52:25 PM
That Sprinter is totally kickass Peter. I looked through your construction posts--great work.

As for the OP's question, which has been somewhat scaled back from the "perfect" vehicle to "what do you have/like?", I have personally enjoyed using Subaru Outbacks for many years on dirt roads or reasonably tame non-road locations. They certainly aren't a go-anywhere vehicle, but they can go most places. The primary things to be aware of, that may or may not be an issue are:

After 17 years of driving (and loving) Subarus, I defected a few months ago and bought a Toyota Land Cruiser V8. I needed a bit more capable vehicle off road with a bit more cargo area and a lot more towing capacity. So far I adore it. But I still feel a bit guilty about leaving Subaru. They were just so darn reliable and utilitarian.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on February 18, 2013, 07:11:47 PM
Thanks ifeagan. Frito allows me to stay on the road for a month at a time, motel-free, and that's a very good thing. If I save $3K a month on motels, that's a D800.

The Subaru is "The National Vehicle Of Creston" according to me. : ).  Creston, in the Kootenays district of British Columbia, is the town where I live.  There are more Subarus here than pickup trucks.  Nearly.  Drove one for the very first time just this week. A Forester. Very impressive.

Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: tsjanik on February 19, 2013, 08:48:18 AM
Just my 2 cents:  I see a Sprinter in my future, but currently use a Forester Turbo which imitates a Porsche when not used for camping.  My ideal vehicle is no longer made, a VW Syncro:
 see:  http://www.sfgate.com/cars/article/1991-VW-Vanagon-Syncro-the-perfect-getaways-3204053.php

Tom
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: B-Ark on February 19, 2013, 10:21:13 AM
This is what works for me.

Advantages include:
- quite mobile - can get almost anywhere and don't have to worry (too much) about getting stuck in mud/snow
- diesel engine, so reasonable (not great) fuel economy
- motel and restaurant bill is approximately zero
- self sufficient for 2+ weeks
- comfy and warm at night
- can review day's images in the evening on the laptop while sipping a tea, coffee, beer ...
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on February 19, 2013, 05:11:50 PM
Some great ideas comng in here. Thanks for taking the time to post up some of the details. I'm finding that there are more didicated back roads camera platforms than I thought. Be fun to have a gathering of roadtripping camera junkies one of these days..
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: tsjanik on February 19, 2013, 11:07:55 PM
This is what works for me.


Although I'm leaning toward a Sprinter, I have to say your solution has appeal.  A troubling aspect of camper vans is that after time, the accomodations may be fine, but the vehicle is aging and I'm way past the age of wanting to deal with break-downs.  In your case, just get a new truck! 
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: B-Ark on February 20, 2013, 05:01:12 PM
@ tsjanik

Agreed.
I had also originally contemplated a special purpose camper vehicle. I did want the four wheel drive, so that naturally led to the pickup truck.
When at home, I take off the camper, and can then use the vehicle for other things - e.g. moving lumber, firewood, cement blocks, top soil, etc, etc ...
It also came in handy when I moved a few years ago. Saved a lot on moving expenses.
I do get a full 12 months of use, as opposed to only a few weeks for a dedicated camper.
Title: perfect vehicle depends on your location and terrain
Post by: NancyP on February 20, 2013, 06:00:42 PM
Reading this thread is like planning a dream vacation out west.

I drive around the Midwest. Off-road driving destroys habitat, so I am not interested in off-road. Almost all non-paved roads that I choose to use are purpose built (with berm) pebble roads in state parks or wildlife refuges. Some have good drainage, others have less good drainage and may become muddy (hey, I am driving in flood plains). If park roads are open to visitors, I drive, and if roads are off-limits to visitors or are temporarily shut for special events*, I hike into the desirable spot. Sometimes I like to pull over into an untrimmed berm of a paved road to park and shoot. My perfect vehicle is a 4WD with a bit of undercarriage clearance and a slightly-better-than-car takeoff angle, takes economy grade fuel, has excellent mileage, has room in back for "lives in car" stuff like tripod, knee pads and gardeners' pad, folding stool, spare car fluids, spare daypack with "10 essentials", and can accommodate large backpack (tent,sleeping,10 essentials, selected camera gear) and the "storage" photo backpack with extra lenses I might want. This isn't very challenging. A Subaru equipped with an inverter will do the trick. I rather wish that the Toyota folks would add some hybrid to the RAV4 line - there's an all-electric version, but no hybrid. I don't need a pickup truck, I can't legally park a pickup truck on city streets (SUVs are OK), and I live in the city.

*Best local special event requiring closure of a road: the spring and fall Snake Migration weeks. Walk to the road and watch various species of rattlesnake mosey by. We Brake For Snake. ;)
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on February 20, 2013, 09:35:26 PM
I never Go "off road" either but I have been on some rough park roads in Big Bend NP and Big Bend Ranch SP. In my 2 wheel drive truck, I turn around more than I'd like. The van is lighter, AWD and has a rear locker which makes a big difference. AWD probably works better in snow but it hasn't seen any of that since I got it. It doesn't have the low range of the real 4x4 but it does have 3:73 gears which helps. It has a 4" lift and "E" rated BFG TA/KO tires.  It sure isn't a Rubicon but it does get a little ways off the beaten path. It also has a 27gal tank so it has pretty good range even though it only gets 16-17mpg on the road.  Also have a nice awning that is wonderful down here in West Texas when the sun can just kill you. A little shade can be a real life saver.

Got another AGM battery and inverter but haven't quite decided on how to use it. I'd like to get an isolator and have it charge while the engine is running and maybe a small solar charger on the roof but it's just plug it in and charge it at the house for now. Also have a few LED lights for evenings that run for ever on a AA battery. Love the LED lights, have them in our Casita trailer and they will run for ever on the house battery it seems.

To make it better would probably cost more than it would be worth but I still dream about this van with a 3.9 liter turbo diesel in it.. At 25 mpg I'd have 600 miles of range before I started sweating. That would be handy. One of the things I don't like about the Jeeps and a lot of the SUVs is their limited range.




What do you carry for camera gear and your average weekend road trip? I've been trying to consolidate a little but haven't consolidated enough yet. Now if I had a Sprinter... I might not have to consolidate! (-:}
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: B-Ark on February 22, 2013, 11:37:44 AM
What do you carry for camera gear and your average weekend road trip? I've been trying to consolidate a little but haven't consolidated enough yet. Now if I had a Sprinter... I might not have to consolidate! (-:}

A Sprinter might help, or maybe not.

I have the space, so I bring a lot of gear with me. But then when I get to the destination, I take day hikes of 8-10 hours. Since I can't (won't) carry everything, I have to choose what I think is appropriate for the locations that I'm visiting.
 - do I carry the lightweight tripod, or the solid one?
 - do I carry wide angle or telephoto lenses? what about the macro lens?
 - which camera(s) ?
 - do I need a flash?
 - do I need any other gadgets of filters?

Add to that, the need for water, lunch, extra clothes, rain gear, etc and the  daypack starts getting rather heavy.

Most of the time, I get it right and have little regret.
Sometimes not. I was in the slot canyons of the Escalante and had several wide angle lenses with me. Imagine when, to my surprise, I encountered an Egret wading in a stream about 100 feet ahead of me in a narrow canyon. A 10-20mm lens is not the ideal bird lens.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on February 22, 2013, 07:50:21 PM
A Sprinter does allow you to take everything.  One of the luxuries Frito affords includes a table and chairs.  Yes, chairs.  I can accommodate guests for supper.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Jay Kaplan on February 23, 2013, 06:12:57 PM
Everything is a compromise, but a truck camper maybe the best of the lot. It gives you a mobile home that can go almost anywhere and provides the amenities that you may desire as opposed to camping in a tent, a van or car. They can be mounted depending on the size of the camper on any pickup truck from a 1/2 ton [F150] to a 1 ton [F350]. Models are also available for the smaller pickups too. Aside from being weather proof, they can be used depending, on the model for either 2 to 3 or 4 seasons. And, the total cost is way below the $400,000 plus of the expedition vehicle.

Another bonus, best to check with your accountant or tax lawyer, is that the entire rig, vehicle and camper could be considered as a 2nd or vacation home. If the package is financed, the interest paid on the loan could be tax deductible.

For more information go to http://www.truckcampermagazine.com (http://www.truckcampermagazine.com) A wealth of information and links to manufacturers. And, when not in use can be removed from the truck bed so the truck can be used for daily driving or work.

Jay
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on February 23, 2013, 06:29:39 PM
Everything is a compromise, but a truck camper maybe the best of the lot.

I looked long and hard at truck campers, and I agree that it might be the best of all worlds. Certainly they offer much more comfort than a cargo van. What stopped me was the price.  $30K for the truck and another $20K for the camper was too steep for me, even if it did have a fridge.  That and the fuel economy.  If you want to drive long distances, that adds up quickly.  Diesel prices have doubled since I got Frito, but he's still not very thirsty.  I can approach 700 miles on a full tank (27 usg) if I'm careful.  At Interstate speeds, I can do 600 miles easy.  That's really handy out west.

Campers also scream "Recreational Vehicle!  Expensive toys inside, probably."  They invite flashlights through the window at zero dark thirty.  "No way can you park here overnight, sir. Move along, please." 

Frito's invisible. Nobody sees us.  Nobody cares.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: John Camp on February 23, 2013, 07:47:03 PM
When I'm traveling, I find motels to be the answer, even if I have to get up early or stay out late. If you're not fussy, you could spend half a year in motels for the cost of $10,000 in mods or upgrades to a stock vehicle, and you would be paying the motel costs over a space (probably) of years, rather than up front.

But, the lure of the perfect vehicle is out there, and I even started such a thread myself a few years ago. My eventual conclusion was that a Toyota Tacoma doublecab with a decent topper would be the best solution (for me.) They will take you pretty far down rough roads, allow you to move a lot of equipment in and out, and also sleep inside in some comfort with a blow-up mattress and a good sleeping bag (that will take you down to at least 0F.) The other good thing about this combo is that it is common as dirt, and unlikely to attract the eye of anyone interested in a high-value theft. You can get very secure toppers, though they're a little pricey, and combined with the invisibility factor, you're in good shape. (EDIT: When I say topper, I mean the low kind that do not extend above the car, but are in line with it; that will save you several miles per gallon. Also, if you find a topper with a roof-weight rating, you can stand on them to shoot over foreground clutter, although that's dangerous. If you fall off backwards, you'll land on the back of your neck.)

One thing I noticed in another post was a vehicle project with a vehicle that had advertising graphics on the side. That may well be necessary for that person's work, but I wouldn't recommend that, or any of the photo-related vanity plates that may tempt someone (SHTRBUG) -- it's really advertising for the equipment inside. I once spent ~70 consecutive days in a very good tent, and my eventual finding was that in the more extreme conditions, when you really need a GOOD tent, even a really good tent isn't as good as the inside of a camper.  
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on February 23, 2013, 08:02:54 PM
One thing I noticed in another post was a vehicle project with a vehicle that had advertising graphics on the side. That may well be necessary for that person's work, but I wouldn't recommend that...

I was going to put "Pete's Diaper Service" on the side of Frito. Nobody's going to want anything that's in there. :)
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: B-Ark on February 24, 2013, 07:44:51 AM
$30K for the truck and another $20K for the camper was too steep for me, even if it did have a fridge.

Frito's invisible. Nobody sees us.  Nobody cares.

Frito - it's such a friendly name.

There are cheaper campers. Mine is the "el-cheapo" model, only $8k, but it still has fridge, stove, furnace.

Peter, I went back and looked at Frito at the Eureka Dunes - a nice compact vehicle. Did you know that there's a "road" that goes behind the dunes and winds its way over the terrain into the Saline Valley and comes out at the hot springs? Definitely a 4wd road.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on February 24, 2013, 10:46:51 AM
Frito - it's such a friendly name.

My wife named him.  "It looks like a potato chip truck.  You should call it Frito."  So I did. :)

Quote

... you know that there's a "road" that goes behind the dunes and winds its way over the terrain into the Saline Valley and comes out at the hot springs? Definitely a 4wd road.

I looked carefully at that road on Google Earth and gracefully withdrew.  That is one rough and lonely road.

Even with an "el cheapo" camper, a pickup truck setup is still nearly twice what I paid for Frito.  I do long for a proper fridge, though.  A good one runs over a grand. I'd rather spend that on a new macro lens.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: telyt on February 24, 2013, 08:30:39 PM
My ideal vehicle is no longer made, a VW Syncro:

Mine too.  Alas, parts are getting hard to find.  My solution for now is a used 4x4 Dodge Dakota with an A. R. E. topper.  The A. R. E. topper is very secure, the Dakota is US Forest Service green and the price was less than my favorite lens.  The green color commands some respect in the places I typically use the truck  ;)
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: duane_bolland on February 25, 2013, 01:48:25 AM
BMW R1200GS Adventure motorcycle.   ;D 

Actually, it is far from perfect, but it sure makes the trip out there more fun.  I ride it when I can. 
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Rob C on February 25, 2013, 03:21:26 PM
Watched the latest Top Gear show last night; partly worth watching if you can get beyond the greying juveniles, and you'll see an interesting new Range Rover. It's rather expensive, but it beat an Army vehicle designed for driverless driving across some military zone in the States.

Just an idea.

Rob C
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Tony Jay on February 25, 2013, 03:46:13 PM
Watched the latest Top Gear show last night; partly worth watching if you can get beyond the greying juveniles, and you'll see an interesting new Range Rover.

It is a good looking vehicle but unless it is used on the tarmac or just for sand driving it is very limited as as offroad vehicle.
The wheel and rim design means that the distance from the road surface of the tyre to the rim is far too small for useful offroad work.
One will continually be smashing up tyes and rims.

Tony Jay
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: TMARK on February 25, 2013, 05:25:00 PM
BMW R1200GS Adventure motorcycle.   ;D 

Actually, it is far from perfect, but it sure makes the trip out there more fun.  I ride it when I can. 

Just remember to turn off the ABS when you leave a hardball road. I didn't last times I rode one and effectively had no breaks down a long track in the Sierra Madres. 

I think an F800GS is a smarter move. The 1200GS is to me too big. I with they made an 800 airhead.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on February 25, 2013, 06:31:28 PM
I think an F800GS is a smarter move. The 1200GS is to me too big. I with they made an 800 airhead.

They did make an 800 airhead.  In fact, it was the original GS.  I owned the R100GS and always wished for the 800. Smoother and without the dreaded Valeo starter.

The Suzuki V-Strom currently fills all my tick-boxes.  Huge flat-topped tank for long range and space for a tank bag for the cameras.  Excellent rear rack, too.

How many times have you seen a perfect image while driving, only to find that there's absolutely nowhere to pull off the road?  A motorcycle on board solves this perfectly.

That'd be a landscape photography support vehicle support vehicle. : )
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: telyt on February 25, 2013, 06:40:52 PM
... new Range Rover. It's rather expensive...

Rather expensive??? How about idiotically expensive?  If these are selling, PT Barnum was right.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: TMARK on February 25, 2013, 08:55:59 PM
They did make an 800 airhead.  In fact, it was the original GS.  I owned the R100GS and always wished for the 800. Smoother and without the dreaded Valeo starter.

The Suzuki V-Strom currently fills all my tick-boxes.  Huge flat-topped tank for long range and space for a tank bag for the cameras.  Excellent rear rack, too.

How many times have you seen a perfect image while driving, only to find that there's absolutely nowhere to pull off the road?  A motorcycle on board solves this perfectly.

That'd be a landscape photography support vehicle support vehicle. : )

The V-Strom is really nice. I'm a street guy otherwise I would have a V-Strom. BMW should make a smaller airhead. 1200 is just not necessary. The R1200R is a great bike with a too big engine for city riding.  I have a Monster 796 and a few old Moto Guzzis. The bike I like best is a 2009 Moto Guzzi V750 Classic. It has some mods, but is pretty stock. Most fun to ride in the city.

And yes, pulling over to shoot a frame on a bike is awesome. I do his all the time. I'll see these old industrial sites and find. Narrow spot to stick the bike.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on February 26, 2013, 08:52:08 AM
When I'm traveling, I find motels to be the answer, even if I have to get up early or stay out late. If you're not fussy, you could spend half a year in motels for the cost of $10,000 in mods or upgrades to a stock vehicle, and you would be paying the motel costs over a space (probably) of years, rather than up front.


One of the benefits of my old Astro is cost. I only have about $10k into a vehicle with 50k miles on it and it serves very well for a daily driver. The old Astro is cheap and multi talented if nothing else. I have used to spend a night or two out then get a hotel room to refresh in, have a real meal.. Hotel is just never the same as just being there when the sun starts to come up, especially when you're a few hours from civilization.. (-:}
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on February 26, 2013, 08:57:14 AM
I was going to put "Pete's Diaper Service" on the side of Frito. Nobody's going to want anything that's in there. :)

That's just too funny. I used to use a diaper bag for my camera gear and one time while I was shopping my car was broken into and the bag was just tossed into the back hatch area. No real damage other than a broken vent window. Diaper bag was good cover for the camera, I still have that old AE-1 Program.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: NancyP on February 27, 2013, 08:22:11 PM
Arlon, the diaper bag idea is great. I wonder if it would fool bears as well?
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on February 28, 2013, 10:57:13 AM
Arlon, the diaper bag idea is great. I wonder if it would fool bears as well?

No, I'd bet any bear with an ounce of sense has figured out that diaper bags always have a baggie of cheerios and some "animal" crackers in them!


Disposable diapers wrap nicely around your lenses too. You clould leave the bag and a few of your prized lenses properly wrapped anywhere and nobody in the world would touch them... (-:}
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: hasselbladfan on February 28, 2013, 11:11:27 AM
So sad I sold my H2.

It really gets you anywhere !

http://www.google.be/imgres?q=hummer+h2&hl=nl&sa=X&biw=1474&bih=921&tbs=isz:m&tbm=isch&tbnid=fnoHokwGjYy5UM:&imgrefurl=http://www.mobile.de/modellverzeichnis/hummer/h2.html&docid=WHjpPfVadPgx5M&imgurl=http://static.classistatic.de/imagegallery/hummer/h2/hummer-h2-gm_hum_07_h2_2.jpg&w=630&h=420&ei=IIEvUbrEHsLC0QWYt4GwDw&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:74,s:0,i:373&iact=rc&dur=406&sig=104995112953256012616&page=4&tbnh=181&tbnw=275&start=71&ndsp=26&tx=85&ty=45
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: tjbates on February 28, 2013, 05:38:05 PM
This chap seems to have the right idea. Maybe it's not for everyone?
http://georgesteinmetz.com/about/flying
Title: SwissRoomBox "Home On Board" tiny motor home - video
Post by: NancyP on March 11, 2013, 08:16:41 PM
Well, this was an amusing little video.
http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/optv/gear/accessories/swissroombox-home-on-board-world-innovation.html
Somehow, the old-fashioned tent seems so much easier.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Roman Racela on March 13, 2013, 09:45:46 PM
I used to take my 2008 Infiniti G35 Sedan everywhere and even took it to Patriarch Grove in the White Mountains in the Eastern Sierras. Hahaha.

I was beating up the Infiniti so I finally bought a used 1998 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 in year 2000 with 170,000 plus miles for $3,500. Now it has about 310,000 plus miles and still running strong. It's been everywhere in the Western U.S. and has served me well. I'm starting to see some leaks so I might retire or sell it for $2,500 this year. lol :)  I just go car camping in it when I don't feel like setting up a tent. The downside it that it only get's 18 miles per gallon of fuel so long drives get a bit pricey.

If I don't need a 4X4 vehicle I would buy a VW Jetta wagon with a TDI motor or Audi A3 wagon with TDI motor (I think AWD option is available).  Both gets close to 40 miles per gallon of diesel fuel. This may be the perfect photography support vehicle for me...a good combination of utility and fuel economy. I can put a Yakima or Thule roof-mounted hard shell cargo box so I can use the rear seats and truck and sleeping area if I need to resort to car camping.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: telyt on March 14, 2013, 09:50:06 AM
If I don't need a 4X4 vehicle I would buy a VW Jetta wagon with a TDI motor or Audi A3 wagon with TDI motor (I think AWD option is available).  Both gets close to 40 miles per gallon of diesel fuel. This may be the perfect photography support vehicle for me...a good combination of utility and fuel economy. I can put a Yakima or Thule roof-mounted hard shell cargo box so I can use the rear seats and truck and sleeping area if I need to resort to car camping.

I believe AWD is not an option with TDI  :( OTOH my Jetta Sport Wagon TDI gets about 50 mpg in highway driving. Ground clearance isn't one of its strengths.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Scott O. on March 15, 2013, 01:06:21 AM
My perfect vehicle would be a 4x4 pickup ( like a Tacoma ) with a 4 Wheel Camper on top. Absolutely perfect for one person, works well for 2 if they get along well! Goes most anywhere with civilized comforts when you arrive.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Roman Racela on March 15, 2013, 04:11:00 AM
I just went to the VW and Audi websites and you are correct. No AWD option on the TDI motors. Bummer! 30mpg on the AWD Audi A3 isn't that bad though. I may have to go to an Audi dealer and check out this car. But 50 mpg on your Jetta Sport Wagon TDI? Wow!!! That's crazy amazing. Who needs a Hybrid when you're getting that on a deisel motor?

I believe AWD is not an option with TDI  :( OTOH my Jetta Sport Wagon TDI gets about 50 mpg in highway driving. Ground clearance isn't one of its strengths.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: tsjanik on March 15, 2013, 07:38:25 AM
I got similar mileage with a TDI Passat wagon I rented for two weeks.  The mileage was so good that at first I thought the car might have a defective fuel gauge!
But no AWD as noted; if only the VW syncro camper would return as a TDI version.





Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: telyt on March 15, 2013, 09:58:16 AM
... 50 mpg on your Jetta Sport Wagon TDI? Wow!!! That's crazy amazing.

With cruise control on & staying within the speed limits it's a bit over 50 mpg, and it has passing power to spare.  This is with the 6-speed manual transmission.

I got similar mileage with a TDI Passat wagon I rented for two weeks.  The mileage was so good that at first I thought the car might have a defective fuel gauge!
But no AWD as noted; if only the VW syncro camper would return as a TDI version.

Syncro TDI camper would be awesome   :)
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: tsjanik on March 15, 2013, 02:28:16 PM
Syncro TDI camper would be awesome   :)

Well we know two people who would buy one!
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Roman Racela on March 15, 2013, 05:09:11 PM
VW does have the Touareg TDI 4WD that gets 30 mpg. High clearance, 4WD, great MPG, large trunk area and I'm assuming the rear seats fold down.

Downside? It's $50K plus.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: NancyP on March 16, 2013, 11:06:12 PM
Subaru has diesel engines, but only for sale in Japan and Europe. Diesel engines made to the specifications required for clean air regulation states (California) or countries are not so easy to make. I don't know if Subaru engines didn't make the grade, or Subaru had a clean diesel but thought that the US had no interest in such an engine.

Dang, folks! I thought I had a bad case of Gear Acquisition Syndrome, but this automotive stuff is GAS squared. This certainly makes my purchase of a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens (everything else I have is ~ f/4 or slower) seem positively economical.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Colorado David on March 16, 2013, 11:34:25 PM
I haven't read all the way through this thread, but I would like to make an observation.  There are virtually no off-road vehicles that would qualify as a photography support vehicle.  Off-road is a game that is played in off-road parks on private land.  There are a lot of off-highway vehicles that qualify.  What most people mean when they say off-road is off-highway.  These are four wheel drive, high clearance vehicles that are capable handling a designated backcountry trail that is a legal road.  Check out this site; http://treadlightly.org/  or  http://www.overlandjournal.com/
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: shadowblade on March 17, 2013, 12:01:49 AM
I would love to convert a vehicle into a landscape photography vehicle - secure lockers for gear, a spot for sleeping, etc.

Unfortunately, most of my landscape photography takes place overseas, or on the other side of Australia, or in central Australia, which leaves me working with rental vehicles most of the time - definitely unsuitable or sleeping in. Although I do so anyway, at times...
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: tsjanik on March 17, 2013, 09:25:10 AM
Subaru has diesel engines, but only for sale in Japan and Europe. Diesel engines made to the specifications required for clean air regulation states (California) or countries are not so easy to make. I don't know if Subaru engines didn't make the grade, or Subaru had a clean diesel but thought that the US had no interest in such an engine.

Dang, folks! I thought I had a bad case of Gear Acquisition Syndrome, but this automotive stuff is GAS squared. This certainly makes my purchase of a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens (everything else I have is ~ f/4 or slower) seem positively economical.

I would love to see a Subaru diesel AWD van.  As for GAS, most of us need a vehicle anyway, if it can also serve as a camper/photosupport vehicle, it's in fact frugal!  :D
Title: GAS and perfect landscape photography support vehicle
Post by: NancyP on March 18, 2013, 12:41:43 PM
You are reading one of the stingy, and non-car-obsessed, folks. My 1978 Saab 99 lasted 19.5 years, and got replaced because parts were getting hard to find, and it was my one and only car. My current wheels, 1997 Subaru Impreza Outback, are working fine at a mere 117K miles. I normally wouldn't bother replacing it for a few more years, because parts are still easily available for it. My out of town family has been nagging me for years to upgrade, in hopes that I don't get stuck on my road trips to visit them. They are car fans who salivate at new Beemers, and don't quite understand my crunchy-granola attitude about cars.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: TMARK on March 18, 2013, 03:46:34 PM
Volvo XC70.  Off Highway, not offroad.  And you need more aggresive tires than the stock Continental M+S.  But its big, has some ground clearance, loads of torque, Hill decent control. 
Title: Re: GAS and perfect landscape photography support vehicle
Post by: telyt on March 19, 2013, 12:37:25 AM
You are reading one of the stingy, and non-car-obsessed, folks.

Same here.  My current ride is a 1996 Dodge Dakota 4x4, 120k miles on the odometer.  I figure that if my car is worth more than my camera my priorities are out of order.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on March 19, 2013, 03:04:57 AM
Currently reading the forum on my iPad mini bunked down inside Frito.  Camped halfway between Austin, Nevada and Eureka, bound for the Waterpocket Fold via the Burr Trail.  

Frito rules!  : )
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Rob C on March 19, 2013, 05:32:07 AM
Answering the original question: a tripod.

Rob C
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: John Camp on March 19, 2013, 09:59:04 PM
One of the problems with diesel SUVs (Mercedes, anyway, and I think others) is that they use urea to help eliminate some of the pollutants coming out of the tailpipe. You need to refill the urea tank ~12,000 miles, although Mercedes recommends that you do it at 10,000-mile intervals. If you run out of urea...the car won't start. Estimated cost for $100,000 miles of urea refills is ~$1500.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Colorado David on March 19, 2013, 11:04:18 PM
If I could find a used one for a reasonable price I would definitely buy a Mercedes diesel Galendewagen.  That would be an awesome backcountry, sleep in the back or on top with a roof tent, support vehicle.  I'm not sure if there were any North American Spec diesel Galendewagens.  I know that the rest of the world gets to buy Toyota 70 series Landcruisers with diesel engines, but we can't in North America.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Tony Jay on March 20, 2013, 07:09:44 AM
... I know that the rest of the world gets to buy Toyota 70 series Landcruisers with diesel engines, but we can't in North America...

That is a real pity but what about F-150 or F-250 Diesel 4X4?

Tony Jay
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Colorado David on March 20, 2013, 07:53:11 AM
We can't buy the 70 Series Landcruisers with gasoline engines either.  Toyota decided to not meet NAS for the 70 Series at all.  It is a tremendous vehicle and a shame we don't get that choice.  Land Rover left the U.S. market with the Defender after 1995 and we could never buy the Land Rover Discovery with the TD5 diesel engine.  The Ford trucks you mention are great vehicles, but they are larger and heavier.  There are trails in the western U.S. that a 70 Series would have no trouble with, but the full size trucks are too large.  Diesels are a great choice for photographers, but also for anyone else because of the extended range.  I'm driving a 2001 Land Rover Discovery.  With Bosch electronics it does not have the electrical problems that the Lucas vehicles experience.  All the Land Rover jokes aside, there is no better, more capable four wheel drive from the transmission on.  There are some well documented engine issues, but they don't become a problem if you keep up with regular maintenance.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: fike on March 20, 2013, 10:59:49 AM
I've settled on a Subaru Forester with a few tweaks and mods.

First, I added a Maggiolina rooftop tent.  It has a three inch mattress and is very weather-sealed.  The tent makes a really neat photo blind.  You can open windows facing three directions.  Unfortunately, the fourth window has mosquito netting that can't be removed. Attached is a crummy pic of the tent on the Forester.

The Subaru is the best non-truck-like option for light off road use.  It has more than 8" of clearance which beats many SUVs and pickups. I was able to get an aftermarket skid plate for the engine for a bit more security on boulder-strewn fire roads.  Clearance and AWD are the key features for dealing with light-duty offroad and fire roads.  Low range would be nice, but the Subaru AWD system is quite rugged and performs well with as many as two wheels losing traction. 

Real-world fuel economy on highway is somewhere around 25 or 26 MPG. 

12V cooler plugs into the cargo-area power plug.

Power inverter for charging batteries while underway and running computers for short durations.  Power pack for charging phones and camera batteries.  http://store.bruntonoutdoor.com/portable-power/portable-power-packs/sustain2-trade-black/



Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on March 20, 2013, 12:02:50 PM
Love the Subaru with roof top tent. That's a cool setup. Subaru was going to bring the diesel to the US and I was waiting with check book in hand. Then after a lot of publicity saying it was coming they backed out...  )-:} 

Someday I'll find a way to get that Isuzu diesel into my van and I'll be done!
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Colorado David on March 20, 2013, 12:38:48 PM
Diesel conversions are very tempting, but they may limit where you can live.  If you live in a state that requires vehicle inspections, your diesel conversion would make your vehicle illegal.  If the inspectors look under the hood or plug a code reader into your OBDII port, you're in trouble.  It's too bad.  The diesels are now low emission and extend range considerably.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: fike on March 20, 2013, 03:09:05 PM
...Subaru was going to bring the diesel to the US and I was waiting with check book in hand. Then after a lot of publicity saying it was coming they backed out...  )-:} 
...

You were going to need to get behind me in line for the Subie diesel. 

There is talk that they might be doing a hybrid which might be cool.  For photography I really want a car with stop start technology.  I hate having to turn the engine off every time I see a bird or wildlife and stop to take a pic out the window. 
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Hulyss on March 20, 2013, 06:52:01 PM
Mercedes Benz UNIMOG modified :) Unbreakable (This is not mine, just an example).

Actually I bought a BmW one series 120D, very eco and easy to drive on big distances (big distances in France are not as big as USA distances !).

(http://img.autojournal.fr/news/2010/05/28/1411576/diaporama/450|300|581a8451c20c7e20a75036a6.jpg)
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: telyt on March 20, 2013, 08:30:58 PM
Lots of info and ideas for the frugal among us: http://www.cheaprvliving.com/

its forum has a separate URL: http://www.cheaprvlivingforum.com/
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: tsjanik on March 20, 2013, 09:40:12 PM
Mercedes Benz UNIMOG modified :) Unbreakable (This is not mine, just an example).

Actually I bought a BmW one series 120D, very eco and easy to drive on big distances (big distances in France are not as big as USA distances !).

(http://img.autojournal.fr/news/2010/05/28/1411576/diaporama/450|300|581a8451c20c7e20a75036a6.jpg)

Is the small aircraft an option?  ;D
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: lowep on March 21, 2013, 07:39:18 AM
What about old Range Rover? The good thing is the sitting position is quite high so even when the elephant grass gets (almost) as high as the elephants you can still see enough to keep going :-)
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Colorado David on March 21, 2013, 01:11:05 PM
The Range Rover Classic is a great candidate for this use.  You might want to remove the air suspension and convert to coils.  Avoid the P38 Range Rover.  The Discovery is an exceptionally capable vehicle, you just have to stay on top of maintenance.  They have a tendency to overheat which can ruins head gaskets and heads.  To prevent this, install a 180 degree thermostat and avoid the Dexcool antifreeze.  Owning a Land Rover is a hobby in itself.  They do require some work and you may want to know how to do some wrenching yourself, but in my opinion they are worth it.  I have a roof rack and a rear door ladder on mine to provide a high shooting platform.  The drivetrain management is tremendous and because it is so effective actually helps prevent trail degradation.  A vehicle that gets stuck and spins wheels doesn't help the condition of a trail.  In the Discovery Series II, the combination of the Hill Descent and Traction Control, which are controlled by the ABS System, combined with a Center Differential Lock are very effective.  If you live outside the U.S., the Defender is a great option.  I rented a Land Rover Defender 110 with a roof tent in Capetown, RSA and drove to Namibia.  It was a very capable vehicle and had great range with the diesel engine.  I would get one if it was an option for me.
Title: Forester and Maggiolina rooftop tent
Post by: NancyP on March 21, 2013, 03:28:20 PM
Which size and type tent did you get and what sort of cross bars did you use? I am considering buying a Forester, and might want to install one of these rooftop tents.
Title: Re: Forester and Maggiolina rooftop tent
Post by: fike on March 21, 2013, 03:42:35 PM
Which size and type tent did you get and what sort of cross bars did you use? I am considering buying a Forester, and might want to install one of these rooftop tents.

I got the Maggiolina Air Top (small) http://www.autohomeus.com/rooftop/maggiolinaAir.php .

I put it on my regular-old Yakima round crossbars.

I chose the Maggiolina for a few reasons:
Title: Thanks, fike
Post by: NancyP on March 22, 2013, 02:50:01 PM
This looks like a winner. I will have to keep it in mind. First, I have to buy the Forester!

One of the appealing aspects about car camping is that the gear is guaranteed to be dry. One of the somewhat concerning aspects of a roof-top camper is thunderstorms. You are above ground level (and above wet conductive ground if you were to tent camp), but also sitting on a 3" closed cell foam mattress in a fabric and fiberglass enclosure, presumably with some metal support struts. It sounds as if it ought to be insulated enough as long as you keep free of the support struts.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Tony Jay on March 22, 2013, 06:01:01 PM
Nothing wrong with rooftop tents but in a thunderstorm I would want to be inside my vehicle not in a tent on top of it!

Tony Jay
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Gandalf on March 27, 2013, 07:59:06 PM
What about old Range Rover? The good thing is the sitting position is quite high so even when the elephant grass gets (almost) as high as the elephants you can still see enough to keep going :-)

That's the direction I went, now I just have to rebuild it so it will run. Maybe Colorado David wants to help.  ;D

Which size and type tent did you get and what sort of cross bars did you use? I am considering buying a Forester, and might want to install one of these rooftop tents.

Regarding the Autohome roof tents, I think they are a pretty poor choice for everyone except photographers. The Columbus sets up, and especially packs up, faster than the Maggiolina. Go with the medium if it is for more than one person, the small is very small.

If you are looking for a great photographers vehicle, look for a used Jeep Liberty with the CRD engine. Add a 2" OME lift, some larger AT tires and head for the desert. They are surprisingly capable, competent vehicles, and are really fast in the dirt ... if that is your thing. On a 1,000 mile round trip from Colorado, through Utah and back, fuel cost was roughly half that of a Land Rover Discovery.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: kencameron on April 14, 2013, 04:28:12 AM
Nothing wrong with rooftop tents
A big advantage is that you are well above the crocodiles.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: markmullen on April 14, 2013, 07:40:33 PM
A big advantage is that you are well above the crocodiles.

A common problem here in the North of England ;)
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: stever on April 15, 2013, 11:10:54 AM
Megayacht.  About 250 feet with helicopter and assorted tenders. There is a whole lot of beautiful and interesting landscape that is not practically accessible from land.  In the last several years i've photographed from a number of dive liveaboards and small cruise boats. Unfortunately i've never been able convince the captains (or other passengers) to make a course alteration and wait for the right light - consequently being in the right place at the right time is pretty much luck.  Therefore i would like to have my own boat and captain, even if it doesn't meet the mileage requirement.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: NancyP on April 16, 2013, 11:58:46 AM
Subaru is coming out with a hybrid version of its XV Crosstrek (the equivalent of the old Impreza Outback) in September. I am curious about it. The NY Auto Show video release showed the batteries occupying the area used by the wheel well in other Imprezas/Crosstreks/Foresters, but the video didn't show a tire case on the hatch or anywhere else. I can't imagine buying a car without at least an emergency mini-tire, and I prefer having a standard spare. I will wait for more details. The Crosstrek is a surprisingly large car compared with my 1997 Impreza Outback.

Car or FF body and L glass, car or FF body and L glass.....
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: tived on April 16, 2013, 07:15:46 PM
re: roof top tents

are any of you aware of your car roofs carry capacity? and what damage you can make to your car, if the roof load is too heavy?

there might be room for OHS in photography soon :-)

Henrik

OHS - Occupational Health and Safety

PS: My vote goes to the Earthroamer if only I could afford it :-)
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Colorado David on April 16, 2013, 09:05:08 PM
A car roof will hold a static load of much more than it can hold while driving.  Under load and at speed it a different set of forces.  Fortunately, you won't have the roof tent deployed with one or two sleeping up there while you're driving.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: fike on April 17, 2013, 08:17:54 AM
A car roof will hold a static load of much more than it can hold while driving.  Under load and at speed it a different set of forces.  Fortunately, you won't have the roof tent deployed with one or two sleeping up there while you're driving.

Yep, Car roof's must be able to hold more than their own weight (3,000 or 4,000 pounds) without crushing.  The rooftop tent with its occupants is well within that limit, I hope.  :o   Maybe I shouldn't bring ALL my camera gear into the tent with me just to be sure.  ;D
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: tived on April 17, 2013, 08:39:52 AM
Guys, I am so happy that you guys are photographers and not car sales men  ;D for people who wants to travel anywhere with their car's and potential load their roof rack

but to the less inclined, the average car's roof carry capacity is 40-70kg while in motion, btw its very few people who that also photograph who fits within this weight class  ;D

These same car;s can carry up to 300kg load when not in motion... aka, people could sleep on top of their car's while the is stationary

this is not to say that there are car's with greater carry capacity, there is, such as real 4x4's not soft of roaders.

so to go back to what I said a few messages ago... check with your manual that your car's roof can carry the weight you are planning to carry, because there are roof top tents that exceed this limit

We have a Susuki Grand Vitara which can't carry a full sized roof tent, but that is not to say that some car's can't

Travel at your own risk

all the best :-)

Henrik
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: fike on April 17, 2013, 01:15:17 PM
Driving with a rooftop tent is no different (or more dangerous) than driving with kayaks or a canoe on the roof.  The car may be slightly more top-heavy, but then you should always modulate your driving to the conditions.

Most reasonably-sized vehicles will easily and safely accommodate a rooftop tent. I wouldn't recommend putting one on a convertible VW beatle.  :-\
Title: roof-top loads and "sun/moon roof" use
Post by: NancyP on April 17, 2013, 01:21:55 PM
Hey, speak for yourself. In theory, I could plop a few cheap grippy foam sleeping pads on top of my beloved Subie, grab a summer bag, and clamber right up, being the not-quite-mythical 50 kilogram woman. Now, I wouldn't try jumping up and down on the roof, but the weight distribution of a prone human should be no problem for any hard-top car.

Concerning sun/moon roof that opens wide enough to stick your head and shoulders through: Does anyone actually kneel on seat and stick the camera operating end out the roof hole to photo birds? Plenty of people roll down their windows and effectively use the car as a blind. If you can shoot out the roof hole and the birds ignore you, a sun/moon roof might be worth the money. I have never had or wanted a sun/moon roof, just decreases the interior height and sense of spaciousness. I'd make an exception if I could actually use the fancy-schmancy roof for photography.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: fike on April 17, 2013, 01:25:20 PM
I have taken many photos out of the subaru moonroof. It isn't exactly comfortable, but it works and it doesn't spook the birds as much as getting out of the car.

I took this pic out of the roof of my forester. Remember to turn the engine off.  It is impossible to get sharp telephoto shots with the engine running. 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/trailpixie/4323354821/in/set-72157623834758040/lightbox/
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: tived on April 17, 2013, 05:52:59 PM
Guys,
I am not saying you shouldn't have a roof tent, only to pay attention to the max load capacity of your particular roof.

It's entirely you own decision what you do

Safe journey :-)

Henrik
Title: Re: Moonroof photo
Post by: NancyP on April 18, 2013, 01:22:11 PM
Nice shot, Fike/Trailpixie. I particularly like the floating down feather undoubtedly just preened away.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on April 19, 2013, 10:05:33 AM
I think a port like a moon roof in my van would be quite useful. I also drive a dodge diesel pu a lot. I love that truck but you can't get it within half a mile of any wildlife so I'll would not consier that diesel as much a "support" vehicle unless you plan to hike a distance from it. It's a great road trip vehicle with 1600 miles of range and hauls a ton of gear and tows my little Casita camper perfectly but it can't sneak up on the dead... (-:}


Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: telyt on April 20, 2013, 12:43:48 AM
... I also drive a dodge diesel pu a lot. I love that truck but you can't get it within half a mile of any wildlife

Wildlife using my 2002 Dodge diesel as a blind:

(http://wildlightphoto.com/birds/ardeidae/ambitt05.jpg)

(http://wildlightphoto.com/mammals/antilocapridae/prongh01.jpg)

(http://wildlightphoto.com/mammals/antilocapridae/prongh02.jpg)

(http://wildlightphoto.com/mammals/bovidae/ambiso02.jpg)

(http://wildlightphoto.com/birds/accipitridae/baeagl03.jpg)

If you want to talk about maneuvering the rig on narrow forest roads I'll take something smaller any day.
Title: Lovely view of the eagle's tonsils!
Post by: NancyP on April 22, 2013, 12:19:03 PM
That's a great Bald Eagle photo.

Subaru is going to have an XV Crosstrek hybrid vehicle in September. I am not sure how I feel about hybrid and all-wheel drive.
Title: Re: Lovely view of the eagle's tonsils!
Post by: fike on April 22, 2013, 01:37:42 PM
That's a great Bald Eagle photo.

Subaru is going to have an XV Crosstrek hybrid vehicle in September. I am not sure how I feel about hybrid and all-wheel drive.

One nice side-benefit of photography from a hybrid will be that the engine will turn off when the car comes to a stop.  I am always annoyed when I screech to a halt alongside some sketchy rural highway to quickly photograph a hawk or owl and I forget to turn the engine off.  I snap off a few shots and realize that the engine is still running, destroying any sharpness I might hope to get with my telephoto lens.  I then have to turn the engine off and try again.  Then the bird flutters away 200 yards down the road. Start the engine...drive down the road...turn the engine off and repeat the cycle.  Hybrids will be much better for photographers in this regard.
Title: Re: Lovely view of the eagle's tonsils!
Post by: telyt on April 22, 2013, 07:43:59 PM
... Hybrids will be much better for photographers in this regard.

+1!!
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on April 23, 2013, 12:22:00 PM
The Mercedes Sprinter is still Landscape Photography Suppor Vehicle King, IMHO.  Here I am on the Burr Trail last month, browsing the web at 4G on my iPad mini. For landscape photographers, you just can't beat these accommodations. : )

(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8385/8675847452_5d2199b5ec_b.jpg)

My month-long, 10,000 km photoadventure took me to six western states.  My hotel bill was zero.  My fuel bill, however, was non-zero. : )  Even at nearly 30 mpg, I burned a lot of diesel.


Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: fike on April 23, 2013, 12:36:04 PM
The Mercedes Sprinter is still Landscape Photography Suppor Vehicle King, IMHO.  Here I am on the Burr Trail last month, browsing the web at 4G on my iPad mini. For landscape photographers, you just can't beat these accommodations. : )

(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8385/8675847452_5d2199b5ec_b.jpg)

My month-long, 10,000 km photoadventure took me to six western states.  My hotel bill was zero.  My fuel bill, however, was non-zero. : )  Even at nearly 30 mpg, I burned a lot of diesel.

That's a nice Sprinter setup you've got there.  Is it a stock Sprinter, or did you get some sort of conversion done for sleeping accommodations and water?
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on April 23, 2013, 12:45:31 PM
All DIY.  Probably less than $1K invested in the interior.

100 litres of water, propane stove, icebox, major sound insulation, good stereo, LED lighting, single bunk.  Visitors sleep on the floor. : )


Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: fike on April 23, 2013, 12:47:02 PM
All DIY.  Probably less than $1K invested in the interior.

100 litres of water, propane stove, icebox, major sound insulation, good stereo, LED lighting, single bunk.  Visitors sleep on the floor. : )

That is fantastic. Do you have any pictures of your interior projects. I have been considering something similar.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on April 23, 2013, 02:07:01 PM
This thread on Sprinter-Forum outlines the first steps I took from the bare van.

http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=14166&highlight=Frito%27s+Bulkhead

It was a noxious environment at first - like driving a circus drum.  Now, Frito is Merc quiet. An absolute delight to drive on the open road.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: B-Ark on April 23, 2013, 04:08:31 PM
I'm quite surprised that the Burr trail has reasonable wireless reception. And here I thought that it was 'wilderness'  ;-)
That does look cozy in the Sprinter
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on April 23, 2013, 05:05:55 PM
I bought an AT&T data plan, thus beginning my first experience with that storied corporation.  Service was generally satisfactory, sometimes extremely annoying and sometimes amazing.  Messages and emails would arrive in the darnedest locations, sometimes in the middle of nowhere and sometimes in the middle of the night.  Elevation and atmospherics seemed to be the controlling variables.

Frito is delightfully cozy, even in a Walmart campground. :)
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: fredjeang2 on April 23, 2013, 06:32:42 PM
(http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2012/12/06/apollo17_04_slide-4e01566286f465a22af008e099b0af8e024a3d43-s6-c10.jpeg)
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on April 23, 2013, 07:34:51 PM
HA!  LOL'd, Fred.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: tsjanik on April 23, 2013, 08:42:19 PM
This thread on Sprinter-Forum outlines the first steps I took from the bare van.

http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=14166&highlight=Frito%27s+Bulkhead

It was a noxious environment at first - like driving a circus drum.  Now, Frito is Merc quiet. An absolute delight to drive on the open road.

I just read your thread in the link.  Great story and you do have a wonderful workshop  (did I see an old VW Westphalia in the window?)   :D
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on April 24, 2013, 10:25:17 AM
Thanks, tsjanik.  It's fun way to pass the long, dark Canadian winter.  Yes, that's a VW outside.  I thought it would be my Landscape Photography Support Vehicle, but Frito is a far better solution.  VW is now for sale. :(
Title: Re: Frito
Post by: NancyP on April 24, 2013, 11:17:23 AM
I can't quite see myself commuting in a large panel van (tight fit in parking garage?), but it does look very cozy for long trips. Bravo for best use of long winter.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on April 24, 2013, 11:25:40 AM
Frito parks easily in a standard stall or anywhere on the street.  Height is an issue.  He's nine feet with the antenna, so most parkades are a no-go.  There are few parkades on the Burr Trail, however. :)

As a daily driver, you soon forget you're in a large vehicle, and unlike many drivers, I don't care what I look like or what the vehicle says about my "taste".  The view from the driver's seat is spectacular, so traffic and parking are easy because you can see everything.  Designed to negotiate narrow European streets, he's very agile.

One benefit that I didn't realize until I'd owned a white van for a while is inconspicuity.  He's invisible.  Unlike Land Rovers, campers and other large SUVs, nobody notices white vans.  Good to know when you've left all your gear inside when you leave the vehicle for a little shopping.


I apologize to all for my thread-dominating Sprinter evangelism.  It's just that, they are the Perfect Landscape Photography Support Vehicle. For me, at least.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Hulyss on May 04, 2013, 07:27:41 AM
Found it !!  :D

http://www.unicat.net/ua/en/info/GMXXL24AH-MAN8x8.html
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: HSakols on May 04, 2013, 09:09:19 AM
I drive a honda civic that has a bite mark on one of the seats from a black bear. I like to set up a tent.  If I need 4wd I take a 90 Toyota truck. 
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: stever on May 04, 2013, 10:29:36 PM
the Unicat looks like a nice accessory for the superyacht, but i'm not sure we have room for the car ferry tender to get it shoreside and back.  any advice?
Title: Bear bites car upholstery? There's a story....
Post by: NancyP on May 05, 2013, 11:09:04 AM
Did the black bear break in, or had you left the door open and he just wandered by? At any rate, if you don't mind the bear slobber residue, you have a great conversation piece for your car.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Allen Bourgeois on May 05, 2013, 11:19:40 PM
What one of the greatest of all time used
Ansel Adams
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/04/27/travel/27journeys600.jpg

Results
http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/grant/ansel-adams-moonrise-hernandez-8-31-11_detail.asp?picnum=2
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: schrodingerscat on May 06, 2013, 12:26:54 AM
For me it's the one you have, which is currently an '07 Prius. It's been through Death Valley and the Pinnacles several times(including Ballarat and the campground above the kilns, the Carrizo Plain, as well as many dirt roads through the Sierras. The first mod I did on the Prius was a skid plate. Camping is always a tent(usually my backpacking one), and try and backpack around 10,000' at least once a year. Nothing like watching the sun come up miles from anywhere and the whole place to yourself.

The last thing I want to do is drag as many trappings of 'civilization' with me as I can into a natural setting.
Title: Does the Prius ever get stuck on dirt roads?
Post by: NancyP on May 06, 2013, 12:46:22 PM
Or do you find yourself scraping bottom? The current Prii have relatively little clearance. I am relatively fearless with 7.5" clearance and all-wheel-drive, and haven't got stuck in mud patches or scraped bottom on ginormous potholes yet.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Roman Racela on May 11, 2013, 03:48:03 AM
Any vehicle will do, but not all vehicles can go everywhere.

I have an Infiniti G35 sedan that I took to White Mountain several years ago.  It took me more than an hour to travel the 12 miles of dirt road from Schulman Grove to Patriarch Grove. It was not very wise to take the Infiniti off-roading.  I've also done the drive in my Toyota 4Runner 4WD and it took me less than half an hour to get there.

I've also taken the 4Runner to Toroweap reaching speeds of nearly 60mph on long straight stretches of dirt road...dangerous, but fun.



Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Dahlmann on May 11, 2013, 04:38:06 AM
This is my vehicle.
I love my Navara stx 550, Takes me whatever i want.

(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8432/7814228170_9bb017b312_b.jpg)

I dreaming about this one to put on my Navara.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WDHch7bJp8c
amazing if you ask me...



Sorry for bad English 


 




Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: dchew on May 11, 2013, 11:03:10 AM
Here is my get-almost-anywhere rig.  Bought it new in December, then in January put it up on a lift and started cutting.  Completely different suspension, axle shafts, drive shafts, steering assist, gears, blah blah... 

I can now go 100 meters farther than I could before.  After that I'm really stuck!   :)

Dave
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: Peter McLennan on May 11, 2013, 11:54:11 PM
For me it's the one you have, which is currently an '07 Prius. It's been through Death Valley and the Pinnacles several times

Impressive.  I turned back from the Pinnacles in my AWD Asstro.  Too rough.
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: arlon on May 22, 2013, 01:55:56 PM
Impressive.  I turned back from the Pinnacles in my AWD Asstro.  Too rough.

The AWD Astro is my goto vehicle if I have to leave the pavement. I did a lift and slightly taller tires. I now look down on any stock JEEP.. (-:}

I love the platform on Ansel Adams station wagon posted earlier too. That is exactly what I'm looking to do for the top of my van... I'm getting a lot of ideas from these posts. My van may not be perfect but it's getting better.

No worries on the sprinter stuff. I'm taking notes on all the Sprinter points, a lot of that can be applied to my Astro. Been considering trading in my truck and Astro van on a sprinter. I could cut down on vehicles with that setup. I seldom need the AWD but the clearance is a must.. Sprinter would make a good tow vehicle for my Casita travel trailer too making the truck expendable..
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: orchidblooms on May 22, 2013, 02:46:11 PM
I have been thinking of a 4x4 tacoma with a popup camper insert....
Title: Re: What is the perfect landscape photography support vehicle?
Post by: theguywitha645d on May 22, 2013, 03:15:14 PM
For me it's the one you have, which is currently an '07 Prius. It's been through Death Valley and the Pinnacles several times(including Ballarat and the campground above the kilns, the Carrizo Plain, as well as many dirt roads through the Sierras. The first mod I did on the Prius was a skid plate. Camping is always a tent(usually my backpacking one), and try and backpack around 10,000' at least once a year. Nothing like watching the sun come up miles from anywhere and the whole place to yourself.

The last thing I want to do is drag as many trappings of 'civilization' with me as I can into a natural setting.

+1

I have taken my Prius down mud tracks (sometimes known as roads in Maine). If it was not just a normal vehicle too, I would love to convert it to have a sleeping deck in back and a few storage bins, but my wife says we need the back seats.