Our Photography Gear

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Views of the clouds in the evening the first night in our campsite in Rapid City, South Dakota. It really looked like this.

We were asked about the photography gear that we use, so this post is devoted to a discussion about our gear and some remarks regarding how we approach many of our photographs.

First, this is our primary gear:

  • 2 Canon 80D bodies (these can do video)
  • Lens:  Canon EF 100-400 IS II USM (telephoto)
  • Lens:  Canon EFS 18-200
  • Lens:  Canon EFS 10-18mm (wide angle)
  • Extender:  EF 1.4 III (used with telephoto)
  • Gitzo Tripod with a ball mount (This is an amazing high-quality carbon fiber tripod)
  • MeFoto Tripod with a ball mount (This is a carbon fiber tripod but does not approach the quality of the Gitzo but it’s a great second/backup tripod)
  • Remote shutter release
  • Neutral Density Filters (but just got them and haven’t used them much)
  • Canon Powershot SD1000 (can do video)
  • Winbook Wide-Angle Action Cam SV5EN (We got this as a Christmas gift exchange and it has been a great video camera to mount on the kayak.  It can be used underwater and we got some nice underwater shots last year. Check out our YouTube page at landrtravels for some videos (here is a link to one of them click here.)
  • Canon VIXIA HF R500 video camera (We don’t use this as much but it is a great little video camera)
  • 2 cell phones (Samsung S6 and HTC 10)

We have various filters, backup lenses, and what not that I won’t detail.  We don’t use them much.

Okay, I rattled off a list of equipment.  Now, I’ll talk a bit about how we use it and sometimes a little history about how we got here.

First, I had a great Canon 50D and wanted a second body so I didn’t have to keep swapping lenses between a telephoto and a landscape lens.  The closest I could get at the time was a Canon 80D.  I fell in love with the 80D and never used the 50D after that.  So, I had to go out and get a second 80D.  At least that way, both cameras operate the same way which reduces the amount of thinking I have to do when I am changing settings.  I keep the telephoto lens on one camera for wildlife shots and either the wide angle or 18-200mm lens on the other camera for landscape shots.

Regis has become my driver so I can jump out and take the photos while driving.  I have the two camera bodies with me and I’m ready to swap landscape lenses when necessary (which happens more than I would like.  And, Regis says we are NOT getting a third body.).  I also have the binoculars with me in the front seat so it is very crowded!  We keep the tripods in the back.

The Canon 80D takes great video but it doesn’t work well when you hand hold the camera.  I need the tripod to steady the camera enough for good video.  I took some video of the baby bison yesterday and the hand held video is horrible.  I pulled out the tripod and set up on the side of the road hoping Regis would let me know if a bison was headed my way and took much better video (we will post on our YouTube channel  landrtravels later.  Here is a link to one of our earlier videos.  Click here).

I have started to take more HDR pictures because I love the outcome.  We usually take them for sunset shots but I used HDR yesterday to take some day shots at a tunnel on our route. That post should be out on 5/18.  It made a big difference.  But, you really need to use a tripod for HDR so you won’t be taking pictures of animals that way.

Regis usually mounts the Winbook video camera on the kayak when we go out.  He’ll stick the video camera underwater if the water is clear and there is something interesting happening.  He once lost it in water high in tannins so you couldn’t see.  He bumped into the grasses and the camera fell in the water.  It was shallow water and Regis could reach the bottom with his hand.  I WOULD NOT help him.  I WILL NOT stick my hand in water that I can’t see what’s going on.  Regis groped his way around and eventually retrieved the camera.

When I’m hiking, I usually carry one camera with a telephoto lens because I am mainly interested in wildlife shots.  It can be heavy and I am seeking a good solution for carrying more lenses to offer other options without it being too much of a burden.  I’m hoping to visit the camera store in Seattle to see what they have.

I am more than happy to explain how we took particular photos and what settings I used on the camera.  Don’t hesitate to ask if you want to know.  I can post with each picture if it is of interest.

I take all my pictures using the RAW format.  So, they all have to go through post processing.  I use Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop to do that.  I don’t usually do much post processing, but it is important nevertheless.  It gives me the opportunity to correct the photo to match what I saw.  Cameras can’t always catch the full dynamic range of the scene.  You need to correct this in software like Lightroom (there are other options).  That’s also why we need to take HDR photos.  HDR photos allow you to take multiple photos of the same shot using difference exposures.  This allows you to capture the highlights and the shadows and merge into one picture.  Then, you put those photos together to get the view of what you really saw.  Someday, cameras may be so good you won’t need to do this.  For now, HDR is a great way to capture the highlights and shadows.

Note:  I’m typing this blog while in the middle of a thunderstorm in Rapid City, South Dakota.  The lighting is amazing.  Dart is not happy about it but Regis and I find it fascinating.  I suppose as long as we survive, it is cool. Oh, and there is lots of hail.