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Fishing float ring for photography?


chelsea
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Has anyone tried one of those fishing float rings (looks like a covered inner tube that you sit in) for photography?

 

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What I have in mind is using it as a flotation device in order to get at things along the edge of the lake that are difficult to reach in a boat or by land. The areas I want to get at are also difficult to wade in (over waist deep), such as beside an old flooded beaver dam; the beavers are still in residence and have the area undermined with tunnels, making it impossible to walk there. Leaning out of a boat can be rather awkward, my 5 foot 10 inch frame is not exactly the lightest, and even when stretched out, the edge of the boat tends to tip precariously towards the water. What these places do have are interesting subjects like rose pogonias and sundews, and occasionally in the early morning an emerging dragonfly or two. (Note: they will not be damaged by a human approaching from the water.)

 

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I was thinking of rigging up a plyood platform for the front, on which I can put a tabletop tripod to steady the camera. What worries me, is how stable are these float rings? And how buoyant are they?

 

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Or does anyone know of any other method to approach such areas?

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I've seen the technique you suggest mentioned in several books

on nature photography, so I presume it can be done. I know I'd

worry about dropping the camera in the water, but that's just me.

 

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The Canon IS lenses would seem ideal for this application, since

as you suggest, steadying the camera is a problem.

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Rose-Marie,

I shoot out of a float tube quite frequently. They are very stable. I have benn shooting out of them off and on for over ten years and my camera hasn't ever taken a dunking. I would suggest that you make a semicircle of plywood to shoot from with a wooden box on top of it at the height you want to shoot at.

The biggest danger with a float tube is getting in and out of the water. It is best to find a spot that the water depth goes down gradually.

For warmth buy a pair of neoprene stocking foot waders 1-150+ in price. You will need a pair of fairly flexible fins. Force fins are pretty good.

With a float tube you approach by paddling backwards toward your destination. Upon arrival you slowly turn around.

I use a so called Muskrat blind over the top of my float tube. It is made of fibreglass bicycle flags bent over and secured into a ring of 3/4" polypropelene pipe bent into a circle. Camo material then covers the flag framing. It is great because it is very lightweight. If you try it you will be absolutely amazed how close you can get to waterfowl.

Some warnings about float tubes. Don't use them in rivers or lakes with current or on large lakes where the wind may come up.(you will get blown out to sea as it were)

I would try it w/o the blind for awhile to get used to paddling around first. Some people find the blinds claustrophobic.

Give it a try it is a great way to experience the pond.

Good luck and good light to you

Chris

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Though I've not used float rings myself, I've been tempted to, and have this on my wish list for the future.

 

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As far as safety and stability go, my morning paper informed me that a local family is suing the builder of one very popular model of float ring because the father drowned. He drowned because he was chasing a boat that got away and somehow got flipped over by it and couldn't extract himself from the float.

 

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The interesting statistic is that this company has sold 60,000 of these float rings and this is only the second person to drown using one. The other case also involved someone doing something with the tube for which it wasn't intended. As you might guess, I'm hoping the manufacturer wins the suit mentioned by my daily. These things aren't meant for catching errant boats, though it's understandable why the guy chose to use it to chase his boat.

 

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If you use them in ponds in a manner consistent with their design you should be very safe.

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My comments would mirror most of Chris Hansen's info. I've had some real successes with the tubes. One thing that I would add is that my loving significant other is willing to wear waders and deliver and pick-up my photo gear in the water. The biggest problem I had was the entry and exit. This solved the problem!
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Check out the U-shaped tubes rather than the donuts. They are very easy to get in and out of, especially the frameless V-shaped ones. They are extremely stable. I recommend renting several types te see what suits you. On the water befor dawn while it is glass calm is terrific. Good luck
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Consider using a 5-6' monopod to brace the camera against the bottom of the pond instead of on the floating device. If you're willing to lean slightly over the edge of the float and build the canopy so it extends a bit on the "shooting end", then this seems like a better way to stabilize your camera.

 

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I look forward to seeing some images here taken from your blind. Good luck.

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