Floating hide – floating cover for water photography

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In the course of my interest in nature photography, I have also been looking at photographing aquatic animals. So I decided to build a floating hide for water photography. In the following article, you can join me to see how the build turned out and what the photocover looks like.

TOP 5 facts that speak in favour of floating photo hide

– You can use the direction of the light correctly
– The angle of view is always low at the subject’s eye level
– You can move when birds are moving
– You can better choose the background
– You can change plans mid-shoot by moving to a different location

All photos were taken in the Czech Republic during 2021 and 2022.

 

I have been an enthusiastic bird photographer for many years and my favourite way to photograph birds is from a floating cover. It’s a special feeling to be in calm waters at dawn with lots of birds paying you almost no attention. My season of shooting with a photovoir starts at the end of April. On a calm morning, I drive to the pond, carry my gear to shore, set up my photo blind, attach my camera and lens, and slowly walk into the water. When the water is about one meter deep, I slip under the camouflage cover, lean my elbows on the float tubes and go. The weather is crucial for photography in this case. The water must be almost calm. The waves in the water make it difficult to take photos in the water, and the waves make it almost impossible to take photos at all because everything that floats is bobbing up and down. Smaller shallow ponds and water areas work best because the water is steady and calm.

My camouflaged floating photo cover has two float tubes, aluminum construction for the camouflaged cover, and a wooden plate for mounting a gimbal or video head to hold the camera and lens. It is important to say, however, that my photoboat is not a boat . It hides me and carries my photography gear, but wading pants are essential equipment as I am always in the water and slowly walking blindly through shallow wetlands. The ideal water depth is 100 to 120 centimetres. I can also shoot in shallow water, for example kneeling or sitting. The ideal place to photograph is a brackish pond or lake that is home to many waterfowl – the more the better. Another important factor is light. In the morning, I go to locations where I shoot facing the west shore, as the west direction will be ideally lit by the rising sun in the east. In the evening it is best to shoot towards the east.


Photoblind of my own design

In the following photos you can see in detail the construction of my photoblind. I made it myself, including sewing the cover on the construction. Everything is made from commonly available material, which you can get either in building supply stores or in DIY stores.

In this photo you can see the photoblind as a whole. Two floats made of construction pipes designed for waste water, blinded at the ends with the original plugs for these pipes. The floats are connected on both sides by two wooden connections, at the back serving only as a strut, at the front as a support plate for the camera. Attached to the front of the plate is a plastic container, which serves two purposes – it floats the weighted side of the photographer in water (reducing the draft) and also serves as a container for the photography supplies being carried. Each of the floats has carrying handles made of webbing, serving for easier carrying and handling. Last but not least, an aluminum support structure for the camouflage cover is included.

Upper cross connection for the camouflage cover. Each of the four support rods is formed from aluminium tubing, secured at the top cross-connection and at the bottom floats by locking cotter clips.

Detail of the attachment of the support sticks to the float and at the same time detail of the attachment of the support plate to the float. The plate is attached to the bolts with wing nuts. The bolts are screwed through the float wall. The joint is strong, stable and at the same time disassembled for the purpose of transporting the photoblind.

Rear float strut mounting.

Plastic box, mounted on a support plate.

Carrying straps on the float, used for carrying and handling the photoblind.

Detail of the attachment of the support plate to the float.

Fully unfolded photoblind. Only the camouflage cover is now missing.

The photoblind is packed for transport. For transport I use a balaban bag that I bought in Decathlon. The bag comfortably fits the photoblind, neoprene wading pants, neoprene top, camouflage shirt and thermal underwear.

A few tips for the end

Don’t go into an unknown area of water alone – always take someone with you who will be on the shore when you go to explore unknown waters or are unsure of your own water skills or swimming ability. No picture of nature is worth drowning in!

Remember the ethics – with a floating cover, you can go places that a nature photographer or a person taking pictures from the shore can’t go. Therefore, ethically, you need to be very careful not to get too close to nests and disturb the birds.

 


Photos from the photoblind