Two Camera and Lens Support Solutions for the Nature Photographer – Part 1 – the Skimmer Pod II

by Maxis Gamez | November 12, 2010

© Maxis GamezWe, as nature photographers are always looking for reliable, comfortable and light weight products to provide physical support our camera equipment in the field. In some locations, our carbon fiber tripods aren’t the best solution to get the job done. Luckily, offers two excellent products every serious nature photographer should consider – the Skimmer Pod II and the Puffin Pad. These products are available to us directly from the NatureScapes Store.

The idea of the Skimmer Pod has been around for quite some time. I personally used to use a heavy duty Frisbee to support my long (500mm) lens while photographing shorebirds at very low angles on sand or mud. Once, I even saw a photographer using a white toilet cover to support his equipment at the beach. However, the downside of using “home-made” products is that they aren’t perfect, nor are they designed to be used as we want them to. Sometimes their use can even result in serious damage to our camera and lenses, which leads to regret. There also is the factor of the time and money put into creating such support systems that we must consider when deciding if a “home-made” system is really ideal.

Skimmer Pod II

Skimmer Pod II © Maxis Gamez

NatureScapes has designed the perfect solution for photographing shorebirds on the beach – the Skimmer Pod II. After my introduction to the Skimmer Pod II, I haven’t looked back. This product now goes with me every time shorebird photography is on the menu!

Here are some of the specifications of the Skimmer Pod II:

  • Weight: under 15 oz.
  • Height: 1.5″
  • Diameter: Approximately 10″
  • Purchased at: NatureScapes Store

The Skimmer Pod II is light weight, portable and easy to carry in the field without adding extra bulk. When photographing shorebirds, I like to carry as little as possible often bringing only my tripod and the Skimmer Pod II for ground support.


Wrench © Maxis Gamez

The Skimmer Pod II is constructed with super heavy-duty, reinforced, crush-proof, injection-molded plastic and a stainless steel bolt, which prevents any corrosion caused by saltwater. The Skimmer Pod II performs admirably under heavy loading and meets the rigorous demands of shooting in the field, all while keeping your equipment dry.

Because of its low profile, the Skimmer Pod II enables you to photograph as low as 1.5 inches from the ground allowing for the lowest shooting angle possible without getting your camera or lens wet or exposed to the elements. This is ideal for getting beautifully blurred backgrounds.

Mounting Options and Accessories

With its standard 3/8″ tripod mount screw, the Skimmer Pod II was designed to accept any standard ball or gimbal-style head giving you the flexibility to use long, standard and even shorter lenses. The optional C-12 clamp can be added to allow quick and easy removal of your lenses.

SkimmerSack beanbag

The Skimmer Pod II can also be used with the SkimmerSack Beanbag for extra stability and support than when shooting with a beanbag alone. Together, they are the perfect combination when photographing from your vehicle.

Another useful accessory useful, although not always necessary, is the block riser which can be attached to the Skimmer Pod II for those wishing for a little more height or clearance.

In The Field

Skimmer Ground Pod attached to backpack © Maxis Gamez

Because of its light weight and small diameter, the Skimmer Pod II can be carried everywhere you go and can be easily attached to your photography vest with its convenient and reinforced lanyard attachment point. The Skimmer Pod II can be also be hung from a belt, attached to a backpack or stored under your tripod when you are not using it.

While I don’t have experience traveling by plane with the Skimmer Pod II, I can easily see myself packing it inside my luggage. Thanks to its light weight and low profile, I’m sure it will fit without too much difficulty.






Tips & Techniques Using The Skimmer Pod II

Skimmer Ground Pod in use on ground © Maxis Gamez

Photographing at such low angles requires good technique for a comfortable experience. Here are few tips:

  • Carry as little as possible. I normally carry one body, one lens and memory card holder. If you are using a flash, make sure everything is attached and connected before approaching your subjects.
  • Positioning your body on a slight angle will allow the blood to flow freely to your brain. Take this tip very seriously, as I once almost passed out because my “straight” body position was blocking my circulation.
  • Clothing is also critical. Long sleeved shirts are a good idea to prevent abrasions on your elbows. Depending on where you live, nylon shirts and pants are wonderful as they dry quickly and are ideal for situations where you may get wet.

Shorebird portrait © Maxis Gamez

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Skimmer Pod II is an essential tool every nature photographer should consider. With its strong build quality, light weight and low profile, you have nothing to lose. Take it with you in the field, car or even traveling far – the Skimmer Pod II will support your camera and lens nicely!

Read Part No. 2 of this article for my thoughts about a very interesting new product available to nature photographers—the Puffin Pad!

Available for purchase in the NatureScapes store
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About the Author

Maxis Gamez is for the most part a self-taught photographer. He started photography as a hobby, but has now decided to devote his time and energy full time to photography. He has discovered that with photography, he has found a medium that enables him to express his creativity and use his abilities to teach and educate others with his workshops and programs. Viewing the world in a different way, he is capable of capturing wonderful images. These images have been featured in local galleries, published in nature magazines like Audubon, Shutterbug, Outdoor Photographer Magazine, Nature Photographers Magazine and now published in National Geographic. To learn more please visit his website at

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