Shoe sole on the shore of a Lake.
A Beer Can in the Ice on an Old Canal.
Bottle in a river.
Some Forests are also covered with old garbages that are there since many years.
Roadkills are part of the problems we are responsible.
There is hope, Nature can take back what she lost.
I want to talk about a topic that is not often talked about in Photography forums. Peoples that or not photographers thinks that it’s easy to be a good Nature photographer, you just have to buy a good camera and then you go in the wild and you will take great Wildlife shots for sure since you have a very good camera !
I will not talk about learning the skills here like exposure, composition and knowing your gear, i will talk about how it can be tough on your body to be out in the field with a camera bag full of cameras and lenses in difficult environments and weather. If you want to be serious with your photography and come home with good shots and push yourself to get the best out of your subjects you will have to be out early and in sometimes in very bad conditions.
Eventually if your interested in photographing wildlife and especially birds you will need at least a 400mm lens, sooner or later your camera bag will get heavier and it’s your shoulders and back that will take that load. Add to this that you will be walking in rough terrain and often off beaten trails, your body will take some abuse over the years and as you get older all those years will get into you. Now we are lucky to have great camera bags and backpacks that help a lot carrying those heavy camera bags in the wild, when i started photography about 26 years ago i was using a camera bag like the journalist (a big square bag that you carry with the strap on your shoulder), not good for the shoulders and neck.
Blood sucking Mosquitoes are another thing that you have to deal with here in Canada and many other places in the world. They can drive you crazy while you’re trying to compose your shots, especially when i’m photographing frogs on the shore of a pond.
Canon 7D with EF 70-300mm IS + Extension tubes, tripod.
That Green Frog photo was taken on the shore of a little pond infested with black flies !
You will have to get wet and often shoot while getting flat on the ground on muddy terrain like when shooting along a pond. So you will get wet and cold even on not so cold days, as you get older your articulations will not like this too much.
Pentax K-01 with DFA 100mm Macro WR handheld while laying on the ground.
Cold temperatures are inevitable around here, so if you want to take great shots in winter you will have to go out in bad weather. I really like to get out early in the morning when it’s -15C or lower because you can take photographs of fog over the rivers. When shooting in winter you have to be well dressed, but your hands will get cold when handling metal tripods and lenses, i prefer to use thin gloves but there are times when manipulating the gear is easier with your bare hands. I once frozed my little fingers and they felt like i had a 100 needles planted in them for about 1 week.
When i saw that a Fox had walked on the Lake and the sun was just about to rise above the horizon, i stopped and didn’t had time to put my gloves on. It was -20C, my fingers got frozen quickly at handling the Graduated Split neutral density filter in front of the lens.
Canon T3i with EFs 15-85mm, tripod.
I may sound not too positive but it’s really like that, it’s hard sometimes, long hours waiting for wildlife on a cold day sitting in the snow but that’s what makes it so much fun. If it would be easy everyone would get great shots and there would not be so much interest in trying to get beautiful shots. Not everyone knows how much work it takes to get beautiful photos of Nature’s wonderful world, but YOU know what it takes to get them.
Often we take a shot and we walk away because we think we captured it the only way possible, but in fact we didn’t take full advantage of the situation and didn’t produced the best photo we could. This morning i finally had the occasion to photograph a scene that i was waiting to shoot, i wanted the Sumac Vinegar trees to change to their autumn colors.
I already knew i wanted to photograph them from to different point of view, i started with one of them and took some shots before the sun would hit the scene.
After that i walked to my other point of view and the sun broked through the clouds.
This last shot was taken from another point of view that i found while walking along the field. So even when you think you knew how you wanted to photograph a subject sometimes just a change of position or quality of the light and it can make a difference.
Just for comparison, here is a photo i took with a similar composition to the one just taken above but without the same light.
All the photos were taken with my Canon T3i and 15-85mm with a polarizing filter on a tripod, i took them before going to work within 15 to 20 minutes of each others. So keep your eyes and mind open when shooting in the field.
I bought that lens just before going to vacation (New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) because i wanted a Zoom lens, taking photos with a complete set of Prime lenses during family vacation is just too slow and you always change lenses and kids don’t wants to wait too long while dad is taking photos 😉
The comments below are based on that 2 weeks trip, so it’s not a long period but it was the lens i used for most of my photos and that 15-85mm was glued to my T3i. I’m not a fan of zoom lenses, so i’m critical about sharpness, habitually i found that zoom lenses are too much of a compromise in IQ but there is some very good ones out there. One of the negative point of zoom lenses is that their minimum focusing distance is not close enough when used at their shorter settings! This one focuses down to 35cm, not bad but when you’re at 15mm it’s too far, for comparison my Pentax DA14mm focuses down to 17cm !
Dickson Creek in Fundy National Park, NB.
The 15-85mm was very useful along that creek and around the waterfall.
At 15mm, ISO 100, 2 sec. at f/11,Tripod and a Polarizing filter.
The IQ of the lens never disappointed me at any settings, not always as sharp as a good prime lens of the same focal length but still very good in most situations. The versatility of that lens compensate for the little things that are not perfect like minimum focusing distance, some distorsion at 15mm and some vignetting at wider apertures especially at 15mm but easy to correct in LR.
The EF-s 15-85mm is a big and heavy lens compared to the 18-55 kit lenses but the built quality is higher and the 15 to 18mm range is very useful. I didn’t had problem with zoom creeping yet since the lens is brand new but i know from what i’ve read that it will come eventually. I really liked that lens for family vacation and will be using it for my regular photography from now on.
Some more shots taken with that lens:
Here is a shot to show the sunstar effect of that lens, i did use a Polarizing filter but the flare resistance is not bad, need more shots to have a final judgement and without any filter.
Handheld with IS activated at 15mm at f/8 at ISO 100.
The Confederation bridge, from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island in about 10 minutes.
This is a 12.9 kilometre (8 mile) long bridge, it’s the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water.
At 15mm, at f/13, ISO 100, tripod and Polarizing filter.
At 80mm, ISO 200 at f/6.3, handheld with IS.
Zoomed in at 100% to show the details, crop from above after PP and sharpening.
Baie des HA! HA!, Bic Park, Quebec
At 15mm, ISO 100 at f/11, tripod.
Corner crop of the shot above.
Acadien day on August 15, La grande Tintamare, they make as much noise as they can to commemorate that day every year, Bouctouche, NB.
15mm at f/8, ISO 200, Polarizing filter and fill-in light with the built-in flash of my T3i.
Old School in Avonlea, village of Anne of Green Gables, PEI.
19mm at f/8, ISO 400, handheld with IS.
Dickson Fall close-up, Fundy National Park, NB.
At 40mm, ISO 100 at f/14, Tripod and Polarizing filter.
Dickson Creek in Fundy National Park, NB.
At 85mm, ISO 100 at f/11, Tripod and Polarizing filter.
I’m the kind of photographer who tend to broke is photo equipment, call it bad luck or i’m goofy but it happened to me on some occasion over the last 25 years. But i outdone myself this time, i dropped my 3 months old Canon 7D and 400mm/5.6L in the water 😦
I was photographing frogs and just put my 7D with 400mm/5.6 L and with an Extension tube on my tripod, i put my camera bag on the ground and saw my kit falling in the pond , i quickly grabbed my lens by the hood but the ext. tube unlocked from the lens and my 7D did fall back in the water and was now fully vulnerable and making bubbles 😦
The first thing i did was to turn the camera OFF, remove the battery and CF card. I was about at a 10 minutes drive from my home, so i was able to put my camera and lens quickly in plastic bags with silical gel. I went to my local camera store and they said that Canon wouldn’t repair them because of the water. After that i got help from forum members (DPReview and Nature Photographer Network) that suggested rice, so i put rice also and transferred the lens and camera in separate plastic containers. I also removed the back cover on my 7D and unscrewed the lens mount on my 400mm lens to help air circulation.
I changed the rice everyday, and after over 48 hours i decided to try my 400mm lens which looked dry (no more water in the scale distance window), it didn’t get deeper than the scale distance window in the water. To my surprise the AF worked like a new lens, i tested it on a Canon XS, here is one of my first test shots:
This is a 100% crop from a shot taken in JPEG on a Canon XS.
After testing it i put it back in the container with rice to be sure that any remaining humidity would be eliminated. I didn’t touched my 7D for a full week, the top LCD was half filled with water, it took 3 days to completely dry out, even after 5 days there was still water droplets in the VF.
Well tonight i looked at my camera and the VF is now fogged, so i decided to try a battery in the camera (in fact 3) ….. well nothing happened. I declare my 7D officially dead 😦
I’m now waiting news from my insurance tomorrow, after that even if they don’t pay i will have to buy another 7D. At least i saved my lens, the camera took too much water to survive.
Hope that my post will help others save their equipment if it ever happens.
I found some tips here a couple of days later:
My favorite pond for photographing Green Frogs is in fact an old part of an ATV trail that is now filled with water. The pond is not wide so it’s easy to take photos of any Frog in the water or on the shore . When i can i stop at the pond before going to work, i don’t always take photos or came home with a good shot but the more i go the more i have chances to get a good shot. This is a big advantage to have a place like this that you can go often and try new technic are POF, if it doesn’t work the first time you can easily try again and again until you get what you want.
During the last years i got different perspective of Frogs at that pond by using different lenses. I will start by a short video i made this morning of the pond and the set-up i used to get the following photo.
This is the photo of the Male Green Frog that i’m showing in the following Video. unfortunately i couldn’t get the reflection of the Frog’s eye on the water because of the reflections of the plants surrounding the frog.
Canon 7D, 400mm/5.6L, 52mm of Ext. tubes, ISO 400 at f/9, tripod, LV was used to focus precisely on the eye.
Here is the video, you will see the whole pond and the Frog that is in the photo just above:
Some more shots from that pond and i always keep an eye for insects on plants along the shore.
Canon 7D with EF 70-300mm IS at 300mm with Ext. tube, at f/11, tripod.
Pentax K-01 with DFA100mm Macro WR, ISO 800 at f/7.1, tripod.
Pentax K-01 with DFA100mm Mcro WR, ISO 500, 1/500 sec.at f/5.0, handheld with SR.
Raincover for lenses
Back in March 2013 when i bought a Canon 7D and a 400mm/5.6L i knew that this combo was not as weather sealed as my Pentax K20D and DA*50-135mm and i didn’t want to use plastic bags like i did with my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4. So i looked on the Net to find a Raincover that would fit my new kit, i finally found a rain cover sold by Rainydays2008 for 20$ (Canadian) for the Canon 400mm/5.6L (they sell raincovers for different lenses). At that price it was not a big risk, it’s been a good investment for protecting my gear from the rain.
You can see in the photos above that the raincover is kept in place on the lens hood with a rubber band and it also have a small ruberized band inside to keep it from sliding on the lens hood. On the second shot above it shows that you have enough space to put your hands under it and use your gear without any problem.
Even if it’s for a Canon 400mm/5.6L it would certainly work for other lenses and camera combo, the 400mm/5.6L has a 72mm filter size and i can use Extension tubes with or without my TC-1.4X II. It would certainly fit on a Canon 300mm/4L with different cameras but also for Pentax lenses like the FA*400mm/5.6, F*/FA* 300mm/4.5 or even Sigma 400mm/5.6 and 300mm/4 APO Macro.
Waterproof card case
My camera bag was becoming full of SD and CF cards all piled in a pocket in Ziplock bags and it was not easy to find the one i wanted for a specific camera, so i bought a Gepe card safe Extreme case, which is waterproof and crush proof. Up to now i like it and will probably buy another one.
The advantage of that case is that you can put 4 SD cards and also 4 CF cards above them as seen above. Also when it’s closed you can see through so you can quickly know which cards are in the case.
In the field
I tested in several occasions the Raincover and the Card case and both performed very well. Last week i was able to photograph Frogs and a Great Blue Heron for over 3 hours in the rain with periods of heavier rain fall and i had no problem at all, my camera and lens stayed dry and i kept the Card case in one of my rain suit pocket.
Here are some shots i took during that morning.
Bullfrog with decorations !
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L with TC 1.4X II and an Ext. tube, tripod, remote release.
Great Blue Heron stretching, i stayed with him for over 2 hours sitting at the edge of the pond, patience even in bad weather is sometimes rewarded !
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.