Top Ten Things in Dad’s Wildlife Camera Bag

When hunting wildlife, a photographer needs a variety of weapons at his disposal.  Dad’s arsenal contains ten basic pieces that allow him to photograph everything from birds to bears:

1. Canon EOS-ID Mark IV camera body

Osprey with Fish | Beebower Productions, Inc.

Osprey with Fish | Beebower Productions, Inc.

This camera really gets the job done.  At a powerful ten frames a second, Dad easily captures moving subjects and sees great detail.  The Mark IV also has a stunning ISO range from 100 to 12800 making low-light shooting possible.

2. Canon 70-200mm/F2.8L IS USM

Egret Flying | Beebower Productions, Inc.

Egret Flying | Beebower Productions, Inc.

A mid-range lens, the 70-200mm is an incredibly sharp and fast lens.  When the wildlife allows it, Dad can get closer to the subject and still fill the frame.  Thanks to this lens, Dad was able to capture an unexpected egret photo when the bird flew directly overhead.

3. Canon 400mm/F2.8L IS USM lens with Cannon EF 1.4X III and Cannon EF 2x III extenders

Great Blue Heron Soaring | Beebower Productions, Inc.

Great Blue Heron Soaring | Beebower Productions, Inc.

Dad loves the combination of a long lens with either or both of these extenders.  It doubles his focal length without the cost of a 800mm lens.  That means he can back off from the wildlife and still fill the frame.  He even uses this combo when shooting diminutive hummingbirds.  The speed and sharpness of the lens can’t be beat.  Be warned, however, this lens can get heavy.  Dad uses either a monopod or tripod with a Wimberly Gimbal head when shooting with the 400mm.  This combo allows the camera to move smoothly when tracking a moving subject, thus expanding the uses for a 400mm with extenders.

4. Sekonic L508 Zoom Master exposure meter

Cormorant | Beebower Productions, Inc

Cormorant | Beebower Productions, Inc

OK.  So it’s a bit outdated.  It still works.  Dad’s exposure meter really is from his Rochester Institute of Technology days in the 1970s.  In the field, Dad needs accurate exposure readings on subjects that might be pure white to jet-black.  The camera’s meter, in such situations, often gives deceptive readings resulting in an over or under exposed image because it reads only one section of the image.  The Sekonic gives Dad accurate exposures because it turns all light into 18% grey.  The meter doesn’t read single spots but overall light.  The result is correct f-stops and shutter speeds.

5. Two Canon Speedlite 580EX II flashes with Visual Echoes FX-3 “Better Beamer” Flash Extender

Green Jay with Worm | Beebower Productions, Inc.

Green Jay with Worm | Beebower Productions, Inc.

Dad uses one of two flashes depending on his distance from a subject.  The plain flash does a great job of illuminating subjects that are relatively close.  The Speedlite offers automatic and manual settings with a flexible head.  When Dad needs to use a long lens like the 400mm for a far-off bird, he uses the flash with an extender.  The extender takes the light and compresses it into a strong beam that works at great distances.

6. Wimberly Head Version II  WH-200

Pintail Duo | Beebower Productions, Inc.

Pintail Duo | Beebower Productions, Inc.

The Wimberly Gimbal head, as mentioned in #3, fits on a tripod and allows for fluid movement of large, heavy lenses.  It’s easy to smoothly track running elk, flying birds or stampeding horses.

7. Gitzo G-1327 Mountaineer tripod

Bald Eagle | Beebower Productions, Inc.

Bald Eagle | Beebower Productions, Inc.

In the ever-changing world of photo accessories, Dad’s tripod isn’t even available now.  But Gitzo has an outstanding collection of new tripods that will do just as good of a job as Dad’s tripod.  This carbon fiber tripod is lightweight and very strong, a critical point when hauling giant lenses and other gear long distances in search of wildlife.  The Wimberly head fits nicely on top doubling the value of this tool.

8. Gitzo Series 2 Carbon 6X monopod

Kauai Rooster | Beebower Productions, Inc.

Kauai Rooster | Beebower Productions, Inc.

Sometimes you don’t need a wieldy tripod, but you’d like something to steady your lens.  The Gitzo carbon fiber monopod does the job.  Like their tripod, Gitzo’s monopod is lightweight yet very strong.  It too can handle the Wimberly head.

9. Phottix Strato II Multi Radio receivers and senders

Black-chinned Hummingbird at Cuphea Bloom | Beebower Productions

Black-chinned Hummingbird at Cuphea Bloom | Beebower Productions

Dad loves his wireless flash triggers, especially when he’s shooting hummingbirds using eight flashes.  Phottix’s amazing product works without fail even when sending signals through walls and around corners.  This gives Dad freedom from wires and great confidence he’ll be able to nail the hummingbird photo he’s waited all day to take.

10. The Vested Interest photo vest

Roadrunner Breakfast | Beebower Productions, Inc.

Roadrunner Breakfast | Beebower Productions, Inc.

Dad’s custom-fitted vest allows him to distribute weight evenly around his body.  He can carry lots of gear long distances without tiring, leaving more energy to focus on the wildlife.

What are your favorite pieces of gear to bring along on a wildlife shoot?