Few photographers who saw me using floating hide at Hoskote Lake were curious to know how I made it and what is use of it. It is very easy and anyone can make one. Concept is simple, we need some base which can float with camera load and cover to hide us from birds. Sorry for average quality of photographs as they were taking by smartphone
Hide is final shape, just before entering water, sorry their is no photo of floating as I was inside.
Step 1: Make “U” shape basic structure of approx 3ft wide & 4ft length from water fitting PVC pipe, you can use 4” or 6” pipe, with 2No’s “L” joints and 2 No’s End Caps. Before making joint permanent, make provision on all four corners to hold camouflage net. Drill hole use screw from inside with bolt of 2-3 inch height.
Step 2: Make wooden platform, to hold telephoto lens. I purchase old ship wood; it is very light and has good water resistance. I fixed plastic tray on upper wooden plate form, it will usefull to keep your tele-converter , mobile phone or snacks, as you will inside hide for long duration, it will also create extra buoyancy.
Step 3: Make tent using 5mm-6mm MS rods, buy camouflage cloth and stitch tent to cover hide (cut 4 triangle of 4ft * 3ft height and stitch as cone. Tailor who stitches bags will help you. Make some tags so that tents can be tied with float base.
Step 4: Test for any leakage in swimming pool or lake, before you put your expensive camera gear. Once you sure, install your camera gear check floats floating capacity. Above float can carry my 5DM3 + 500f4. Still it can take additional 3-4 Kg.
Advantage of Floating hide over hide on ground at edge of water body
No need to be laying flat on your stomach, with lifting neck to get ground level shot. As it become very stressful on back & neck for long duration.
As you will be either sitting or standing in floating hide inside water, you can change your direction; depend upon direction of light or movement of subject. After couple of hrs when birds get used to your hide, you can move around slowly in water.
Your angle of view will be 5-8 inch from water level, can expect to get excellent bokeh.
You will be inside water for long duration, so even in warm water, there is chances of Hypothermia. You have to wear proper clothing ( wader suit or scuba suit)
Most water bodies where I have been are not clean, so there will be surprise element. also during rough weather , waves in water will make focusing on subject difficult.
Purpose of floating hide is not to venture deep into lake, as most of bird activity will be on periphery, but to have flexibility to move around the edge of lake and sit for hours to document behaviour of birds.
Declaimer: Though this floating hide works fine for me, but safety of your camera gear and your will be your responsibility. I shall not be held responsible for any losses.
Below are few images taken from floating hide, I was surprised when these fairly common, extremely shy birds allowed such close proximity. Let me know if you need any inputs in construction of your floating hide. Keep in touch with "Natureglimpse" , as another project Groundcam, on which I am working for last 2 years , is about to complete.
Pelican about to take off
Grebe bathe, you can observe fine details as your line of view will be above water surface.
From water, getting shy birds like Grey Heron on edge of water body is even easier.
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