Exploring

To get great nature and wildlife images you need to get out and do some exploring.

Mike Paterson

Follow my adventures on my exploring blog

Exploring the road less traveled
Exploring Waterton

I tell all my students if you want to take great nature and wildlife images sitting on the coach will do nothing to get you a great picture.

You need to get out!!!

For some this may be to a local park. Others it may be a trip across the country. And for others it may be a photo expedition around the world.

Where to explore

For me it is exploring Canada.

I am not that interested in other countries as there is so much in Canada to explore.

Close to me there are a number of parks and special places and even after exploring and photographing them many times I want to go back and do more pictures. There are also a number of places a days drive away and thousands more even further away that I want to see.

The bad part about being a photographer is that just going once is never enough. Even for several days it is not enough to really photograph an area. As a photographer different times of the day, month and year change everything and give you completely different looking pictures. Add to that a little change in the weather and you can re-explore a place endlessly and get different images each time.

Because so much of my photography involved a lot of driving I wanted a vehicle that could get me to the locations that I want to explore and do it with some comfort. I had used the family vehicle but it was not the most comfortable to sleep in. Hotels get expensive, if there is even one close by. So I set out to get myself a vehicle that was a home and a office.

White Turtle I
White Turtle I

My first entry into exploration vehicles. All season performance.

White Turtle II
White Turtle II

Upgrade to a unit that I could go from the front to the back while inside.

White Turtle III
White Turtle III

Able to move from the front to the back and narrow for mountain trails

Exploring with Turtle I
White Turtle I everything including the kitchen sink!

The search

As I get older my idea for getting out is to do it. Why stay home when there is so much to explore. But I also believe in doing it more comfortably.

I did the tent route. Slept in the back of my truck. I tried hotels. They all worked but all had a number of limitations. So I started looking for a solution that was affordable and practical. With my health needs and wanting a safe place to store gear I wanted a camper that would be able to do both. I knew I needed a few luxuries like hard walls for gear security and I wanted a washroom and a fridge. A furnace was necessary for our climate and a comfortable bed to curl up in after a long day would be nice.

I also wanted a vehicle that was comfortable and was good to drive in all weather. The nice weather of summer only lasts a few months. As the weather turns nasty the rest of the year beckons to be explored as well.

Enter the Turtle

I started with the White Turtle I. Then moved to the White Turtle II and now I am at the White Turtle III.

When I bought Turtle I it also allowed me to save on my shooting expenses by using it as my home / office when on location. It also was just what I wanted to save me from suffering in extreme weather.

Writing on Stone trees and hoodoos
Writing on Stone trees and hoodoos

When I would do weddings out of town I did not have to worry about finding a hotel room or the expense with this. When I wanted to shoot at a location I could use the Turtle to drive there and I had everything with me while I shot. Washroom, food, change room, shelter and a bed.

A wedding would go late and I could finish shooting, pack up and drive at my speed home. If I was hungry I could stop and make a meal and if it was really late I could just pull off and have a sleep in the back.

Heat & cold

If the weather was extremely hot or cold I had a refuge. One shoot was in the middle of the hot prairies. I had to wait an hour for the next session to start that I was shooting. People were getting heat stroke with the extreme heat and zero shade. During the break I headed to the Turtle. Grabbed a cold pop and sat inside in the shade. After 50 minutes I washed up in the washroom. I felt like a new person and headed out refreshed.

For nature and wildlife photography having a mobile house and office allows me to stay where the pictures are. I don’t need to rush and I can stay till I have all the pictures that I want. Then I can get something to eat or sleep in the Turtle. When shooting in the cold I can keep my gear warm and dry with a place to charge up the batteries should I need to. If I start to get chilled I can return to the heated comfort to recharge my batteries.

Walking up the dune
Walking up the dune

Home away from home

One great thing with the entire Turtle line is the home away from home feeling. No matter where I park I have my home.

I love having those extras when shooting to make life more enjoyable. I may head out for a couple hours but that soon turns into a day, or a day turns into two days. With the extras that I carry I am able to stay comfortable and safe in many situations no matter how long I am there.

The Saskatchewan Sand Hills is just one example where this worked so well. It was a perfect location to shoot but it has zero amenities. I pulled up on a hot and dry day to find NOTHING!! For 30 minutes in all directions there was NOTHING! No hotels, No bathroom, No food. But with the White Turtle III there was home a few feet away! I was comfortable and ready for a few days of shooting.

You may not have your own RV for a mobile office / home to shoot from but you can use what you have. Modify your own vehicle to make yourself comfortable and get out shooting!!!! You will enjoy having some luxuries with you and your pictures will even improve by not rushing.