Photography Gear Guide for Landscapes and Wildlife
Updated: May 18
When our interests expanded from scuba travel to visiting our national parks I decided to switch from Nikon to Canon. It was just a personal choice and I think both products are excellent. I thought that the Canon was more user-friendly for me. I purchased a Canon 5D Mark ll and started adding lenses over a period of time. I have since upgraded to the 5D Mark lV. The #1 tip I can give anyone is to know your camera functions. After years of using this camera, they come naturally. You need to be able to shoot in shutter-priority, aperture-priority, and manual modes and know what they can do.
The 1st lenses that I purchased were the Canon 16-35mm f2.8, Canon 24-105mm f4, and the Canon 300mm f 4. I used the 16-35mm for landscapes and the 24-105mm for landscapes and general photography. I have found that the absolute best times for photography are the golden hour. The hour right before sunset and the hour right after sunrise when you get warm low-angle light. I have also found that the blue hour, the time right after sunset is also magical for some scenic photos, especially coastal ocean scenes when you get cool tones.
Wildlife Photography Gear Guide
I used the Canon 300mm f4 for wildlife photography with limited success. It just didn't reach far enough for smaller animals. If I could get fairly close it was a great lens and very sharp. I tried adding a 1.4 teleconverter but lost a stop and the image wasn't as sharp. I then added a 2x teleconverter and got even worse results.
I eventually added the Tamron 150-600 mm f5-6.3 zoom lens. It is not as sharp as a more expensive 600 mm lens but for me the price was right. It will focus fast and at 600mm it is fairly sharp. I especially like the 3 VC modes, VC MODE 1 is the standard mode that strikes a great balance between the stability of the viewfinder image and the stabilization effects. VC MODE 2 is exclusively used for panning. VC MODE 3 prioritizes the stabilization of the captured images and forgoes the stabilization of the viewfinder image.
Other Lenses in my bag:
A good tripod is essential for landscape photography and also when shooting wildlife with a long lens. Even though the panning features on the Tamron lens above work great I still use a tripod whenever possible. The Induro tripod I use is the CT 203. It has 3 sections and is very sturdy. When coupled with the BHL 2 ball head it is a very stable platform. I do have a second tripod that I take on trips because you never know when you might need one. It is the CT 014. A lightweight travel tripod that is lighter and shorter than the CT 203. The CT 014 is no longer available new but I'm sure you can find one on eBay or something similar.
I have found that a good camera backpack is essential for carrying and protecting your equipment. The Tenba backpack is not a very large one. It holds 2 cameras with my 16-35mm and 24-105 lenses and space for a couple of extra lenses. I take a 50mm macro lens and a 15mm fisheye lens which I don't use very often. There is space for some gadgets like a battery charger, compass, and filters. Fully loaded it weighs about 40 lbs. and I lugged this around for a couple of years before I bought a shoulder bag. The shoulder bag I use isn't available any longer but there are plenty on the market. The shoulder bag isn't a large one. You can see it in the above photo where I'm setting up my tripod. I usually only take 1 body and my 24-105 lens. They fit nicely in the bag and there isn't anything else in the bag to damage them. If I'm not sure what I'll need sometimes I'll pack a second lens. The shoulder bag below is similar to mine.
Some other great options:
An intervalometer timer is a powerful tool for photographers. It allows for creative possibilities such as time-lapse, self-portraits, and star trail photography. With this tool, photographers can capture images that were once only possible with manual triggering, patience, and precision. So whether you're a professional photographer or a hobbyist, adding an intervalometer timer to your photography kit can open up a world of creative possibilities. I don't use one very often but the times I use it the most are taking self-portraits and star trail photos. For self-portraits it allows you to set up the camera and then step into the frame, knowing that the camera will take the picture at the right time. for star trails it allows me to set up the camera to take a series of long exposures, each lasting several minutes.
This image is a combination of 1 image to capture the Joshua tree and landscape and 20 - 5 minutes exposures for the star trails compiled in photoshop the next morning.
I like to use a circular polarizing filter on my lenses most of the time. They allow you to select which light rays enter your camera lens and you can remove unwanted reflections.
With all of the traveling that we have done we never know too far in advance what the weather will be like when we arrive. We have spent many days in our national parks in rainy weather but we don't let that stop us. It rained every day we were in Olympic NP. The rain can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can provide an excellent opportunity for capturing stunning and unique shots. On the other hand, it can also pose a significant threat to your camera equipment, potentially causing severe damage or even rendering it unusable. It is crucial to know how to protect your camera from the rain, and the importance of keeping it dry. Here are some tips to help you safeguard your camera and maintain its functionality in inclement weather:
1. Use a weather-sealed camera or housing:
Some cameras are specifically designed to withstand harsh weather conditions. They are often labeled as "weather-sealed" or "weather-resistant," and are built to prevent moisture from penetrating the camera's body. If you are planning on shooting in the rain frequently, investing in a weather-sealed camera or housing is an excellent option to ensure your camera stays dry. The Canon 5d mark 2 that I use is listed as weather sealed however if I'm expecting rain I always take a camera cover.
2. Use a camera cover that is made of waterproof materials and is designed to protect your camera from the rain while allowing you to continue shooting. They are affordable, lightweight, and easy to use, making them a great option for photographers of all levels.
3. Even with the best protection, moisture can still find its way onto your camera. It is essential to keep a microfiber cloth handy to wipe away any moisture from your camera's body and lens. Microfiber cloths are soft and won't scratch your camera, making them a great option for cleaning and drying.
4. Use a waterproof camera bag. The ones that I have listed above work great for me.
5. One of the most significant risks of shooting in the rain is moisture getting inside your camera's body or lens. To prevent this from happening, avoid changing lenses while it's raining. If you need to switch lenses, find a sheltered area to do so or wait until the rain stops.
It is also important for you to stay dry. We always travel with rain gear that we have used many times. It keeps you dry and warmer. Make sure that your pants have zippers and room to go over your hiking boots without taking them off. Also, get large enough to layer underneath depending on how cold it is.
My photography gear has evolved over the years. When I first started in photography, my sole focus was underwater photography. We did a lot of scuba diving, and it just made sense to document what I was seeing underwater. I very rarely did a dive without a camera in my hand. Years ago I started with a Nikonos 5 rangefinder camera. At the time it was the Cadillac of underwater cameras. As time went by and the Digital era rolled around I got a Nikon D 70 with a Sea and Sea underwater housing. This greatly expanded my photography potential. I went from 35 frames on a dive with a roll of film in the Nikonos 5 to as many photos as I could take on an hour dive on my D 70. Later I purchased a D 200 and a Sea and Sea housing and used it for years. Both the D 200 and the Sea and Sea DX D200 housing have been discontinued for a long time, but you can still find them if interested. Here's a link to the housing at a company called Backscatter