Blustery Snowy Day

Putting gear in its place. . .

I've cycled through several different levels of primary long lenses so far on my photography journey. I think that the countless hours I've spent out looking for the right nature photos carrying many different pieces of equipment has taught me a few things about gear and its role in creating a good photo. First, let me say I really don't want this to be a snobby, you can't take good shots without a crazy expensive prime lens, thing. (Mine were bought on ebay for what it's worth.) One of my favorite shots is the main photo on this page. It was taken with a Canon T1i and a Tamron 18-270 mm. If you look that lens up on a sharpness chart it is about as soft as a lens can get. Fortunately, this is a photo of a horse farm near Lexington, KY in the middle of a snowstorm. The snowstorm means the image was always going to be soft, and if anything it adds to the feel of the image. What makes this image for me is the group of horses sheltering from the storm behind the barn. I can almost feel the cold wind and hear it howling around the shed. Then there is the contrast to the peaceful space above the clouds.  I guess what I'm getting at is the story and composition of the photo is far more important than the price tag that was on the gear that captured it

Moving Right Along

That said, if your image requires sharpness, my old Tamron 18-270 is not the lens for the job. There is a balance between quality shot and quality gear. You're not going to get a magazine shot of a bull elk with an iPhone even if the new one does have three cameras. When I posted this image of a black bear cub catching up to its mother in a Cades Cove field one person on Facebook had to pipe up and say that you could easily get high quality black bear photos like this on your cell phone. I have nothing against cell phone photos. I think at last count I had something like 10,000+ iPhone shots. The fact is that to get this shot with a cell phone you would have had to be over 20 times closer to the cub than I was. That's neither safe for the animal or the photographer.

My journey in photography has involved a lot of gear. I'm an engineer by day, so I like shiny toys. What I'm going to list here is some of the gear that I currently use in my photography. Also, since I'm doing nature photography, I'll include some of the nature/camping gear that I find most useful in my travels.

Photography Gear

Long Lenses

Canon EF 600 mm f/4 IS II

Canon EF 400 mm f/2.8 IS II

Canon EF 200-400 mm f/4 w 1.4x

Canon EF III 1.4x and 2x teleconverters

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Shorter Lenses

Canon EF 70-200 mm IS II

Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8  L II

Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8 L III

Sigma 50 mm f/1.4 Art EF mount

Sigma 14 mm f/1.8 Art EF mount

Macro Lenses

Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8 L

Sigma 70 mm Art Sony E mount

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Camera Bodies

Canon EOS R5

Canon EOS 5D mark IV

Canon EOS 6D

Sony alpha 7RIV


Metabones T adapter from EF to E mount

Canon EF to RF with control ring

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Wildlife Rig

Gitzo GT5543XLS Systematic Series 5

Wimberley WH-200 Gimbal Tripod Head II

Really Right Stuff PG-CC Cradle Clamp for Gimbal Tripod Heads

Really Right Stuff TA-4 Leveling Base

Landscape Rig

Benro  Extra Long Series 4 Mach 3

Really Right Stuff Universal Leveling Base with Platform

Acratech Long Lens Head

Camera Backpack

Shimoda Action X 50L - Large DSLR insert


Magpul MS4 Dual QD Sling Gen 2 (RRS)


Kase 82mm Wolverine Magnetic

- 3 Stop ND

- 6 Stop ND

- 10 Stop ND

- Circular Polarizer

Rain Covers

LensCoat RainCoat Pro (Realtree Max4)

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Camping Gear (Car Camping)


CORE 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent with Awning

CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent - 14' x 9'


Jetboil Flash

Eureka SPRK Camp Grill

Jetboil Genesis Base Camp Stove

Inside Tent and Sleeping

Black Diamond Zip Lantern

REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3

REI Co-op Igneo 17 Sleeping Bag

REI Co-op Outward Side Table

Insect Treatment

I can't recommend the clothing treatment spray highly enough. It's a must for camping in tick and mosquito areas.

Ben's Complete Clothing and Gear Insect Treatment Spray


Field and Stream Eagle Run

Field and Stream Eagle Talon

Waterproof Socks

NRS Neoprene Boundary Socks with HydroCuff


Satellite Text/GPS

Garmin InReach Mini

Freeze Dried Meals

TOAKS Titanium Long Handle Spoon with Polished Bowl

Peak Adventure Meals

- Sweet Pork & Rice

- Beef Pasta Marinara

- Homestyle Chicken & Rice

- Chicken Teriyaki Rice

Mountain House

- Breakfast Skillet

- Biscuits and Gravy

Backpacker's Pantry

- Three Cheese Mac

- Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken

- Pad Thai with Chicken

AlpineAire Foods

- Spicy Sausage Pasta

- Kung Pao Grilled

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