Sunday, April 8, 2012

Rick's List: Alaska Bald Eagle Workshop Gear

© Rick Sammon
I'm gearin' up for my April Alaska workshop with Hal "Bull" Schmitt, who is the lead instructor at Light Photographic Workshops.

The focus of the Alaska workshop will be on photographing bald eagles, but we'll also be photographing spectacular landscapes and sea scapes . . . and few whales.

Because gear is a very poplar topic here on my blog, I thought I'd put together another "Rick's List," this time discussing the gear I'm packing for Alaska - and why I'm packing it.  I'll be using the same gear for my Bosque del Apache workshop in December with Juan Pons. I updated this list/post after doing a test: 7D vs. 5D Mark III.

The pictures you see here are from my 2011 Alaska trip with Hal.

Here goes.

Canon 5D Mark III - Two: one mounted with a telephoto lens or zoom, and one mounted with a wide-angle zoom.

Canon 400mm DO lens - my main BIF lens. A relatively compact lens that I borrowed from Canon's CPS.

Canon 100-400mm IS lens - for extra shooting flexibility when the birds are zooming toward and away from the boat (our shooting platform).

Canon 70-200mm f/4 lens - great for when the birds are relatively close to the boat.

Canon 1.4X tele converter - makes my 400mm a 560mm. I don't use a 2x converter. I just crop in camera.

Canon 15mm fisheyes lens - for very wide shots of the glaciers (see below). I'll probably upgrade to the Canon 8-15mm lens soon.

© Rick Sammon
Canon 17-40mm lens - my standard landscape and seascape lens.

Canon 25-105mm IS lens - I never leave home without it. Great for people shots, on land and on a boat. A wonderful general-purpose lens, too.

Storm Jacket camera/lens protector - to keep my camera and lens dry.

Tiffen Polarizing Filter - to reduce reflections on water and ice.

Tiffen Variable ND filter - to reduce the light entering the camera so I can shoot waterfalls at slow shutter speeds in bright light.

© Rick Sammon
Lexar 16GB and 32GB cards - so I can takes lots of pictures of birds in flight without chaining cards.

Blower - to keep my sensor clean.

Head-mounted flashlight - for hands-free shooting in the dark.

Small flashlight - just in case the lights go out.

Extra camera batteries and charger - for extra power.

Plastic sandwich bags - for extra camera protection.

Believe it or not, all that gear fits snugly into my Lowepro AW 300 backpack.

Not shown: my Induro tripod and ball head . . . plus all my clothes, etc.

My computer gear includes:

MacBook Pro
Lexar Card Reader
LaCie portable hard drive (500GB).

I pack my computer gear in a Lowepro roller.

I hope to see you someday on one of my workshops, group or private. To get on the list, shoot me an email.

© Rick Sammon
Explore the light,


Randy said...

As someone who can't afford 90% of that gear...although I do have a 7D...I do enjoy seeing what gear successful photographer use and how that tackle projects such as your trip to Alaska.

Steve S said...

This leads me to a question I've had about crop factor. You say you're using the 7D because of the crop factor. Why not just shoot photos with the 5D and then crop them in post?

Seems to me that the effect should be about the same. On the 5D you have a larger sensor but also more megapixels, so I should think the quality of the final result would be about the same.

Bull Schmitt said...

Awesome! Ready to get out there and also have a couple BPMs.


PatL said...

You really captured the blue in the glaciers. My images aren't near as vibrant. What's the secret?

Jan W. said...

Awesome, my favorite thing in the world: EAGLES!
My other favorite thing in the world : PHOTOGRAPHY
I guess I need a job now that I am retired to afford the equipment I want and to have better health would be great to go on these trips! Wow how I envy you...
Someday in my future I can only hope! Its just sad that everything fun in life costs so many $$$$.....but still I will work on the future! I got goals...they will come!

Betty said...

I've been leading similar tours to Southeast Alaska for 13 years now, also on a small boat (Delphinus) like the one pictured. Rick's gear list is right on. There's a lot of rain in this part of the world.

Sage said...

@Steve S. - I can't speak for this photographer but I know that if you're shooting with a 1.6x camera vs. Full Frame you are going to be composing the picture and exposing it slightly differently. I think quality wise you're right, cropping 5Dmkii shots is a decent alternative but it's not apples to apples. You can't always shoot manual for fast-moving stuff so you might actually need the camera to do some of the exposure work for you - the 5D will have metered a larger scene that you cropped down whereas the 7D would have metered only for the visible portion - your exposure could be vastly different depending on which you shot with. I think Cropping the 5D later will make it harder to get your exposure just the way you want it in the field.