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Sand Sledging~An alternative approach to low level camera support by Eospete
Submitted By: Pat Date: January 28, 2010, 8:57 PM Views: 837

Sand Sledging~An alternative approach to low level camera support
by EOSPete

The objective of the mission was to obtain close up low level shots of seals basking on wet sandbanks. A stealthy, low approach was essential to avoid spooking the animals using a simple easy to manipulate support device.

Tripods and bean bags whilst providing a firm base have on previous visits proved difficult to manoeuvre. Tripods, preset for low level work were cumbersome and tended to bed into the sand. Bean bags collected wet sand and a source of grit in the equipment.

The answer was rather simple - make a sand sledge which should be:

  • Lightweight yet stable
  • easy to adjust the viewpoint
  • easy to construct
  • lightweight for carrying
  • cheap to make

The design needed to ensure that the camera was held at a comfortable eye level. Runners to allow the whole kit to slide on wet or dry sand with equal ease.

  • Runners 2@ 450mmx30mmx20mm wood
  • Front cross piece 1@ 220mmx20mmx12mm
  • Screws 8@ 25mm size 6
  • 1@ " BSW (Whitworth) 32mm bolt
  • BSW nut
  • Threaded bar 6mm cut to length
  • 1 Wing nut 6mm
  • Washers 1@ 35mm, 1@ 25mm
  • Base plate 1@ 200mmx220mmx9mm plywood
  • Tripod head base 1@ 220mmx65mmx45mm
  • Superglue/PVA adhesive

  • Tenon saw
  • Hacksaw
  • 3mm, 6mm, 12mm drill bits and drill
  • Screwdriver

Figure 2 above shows the exploded construction

Sufficiently long " BSW bolts (standard tripod fixing for all cameras) are practically unobtainable. 6mm threaded bar is readily available. The two different threads can be spliced together as follows:

  • Remove the head and superglue this halfway into the bolt.
  • Apply superglue on the end of the 6mm bar and turn into the reverse end of the nut. Wrong thread, but the adhesive will secure it
    NB This stage would be easier if you can obtain a " BSW bolt 4 1/2"


Trial tests were carried out at Donna Nook Nature Reserve during the 2002 breeding season of the North Atlantic Grey seals.

  • The camera strap was removed to avoid picking up sand
  • A ball and socket tripod head with quick release plate was mounted on the threaded bolt (You could use any favourite tripod head)
  • A small piece of Velcro allowed a cable release device to be held in place
  • The sledge was pushed in front of the body and slid smoothly and quietly over the sand during the commando style approach allow a less threatening approach
  • Stability and find tuning of viewpoint was found to be superior to using a tripod or beanbag
  • An added bonus was that the sledge also kept the photographer's hands off the sand during the crawl.

If you prefer, remove the tripod head drape a bean bag across the top of the sledge gripping to the camera mount. There is no reason why the sledge would not work just as effectively across grass or other surfaces for flowers, fungi, or damp mud when photographing shorebirds. The possibilities are only just being explored.

Whatever the time of year - enjoy your sledging!!!

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August 13, 2011, 7:54 AM
I've just seen this, a year and a half after it was uploaded  Shocked! Looks like a very useful piece of equipment, and the photographs are great.

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