Spring is upon us. For some of you the season is already in full swing, for those of you who have yet to see your first hepatica or pasque flower do not despair they will arrive soon! I thought I would give a quick run-down on the equipment that I pack when I venture out on a spring ephemeral photo-shoot-like the one I am planning a little later this week.
Tripod-one that goes flat to the ground, I also prefer using a three-way head like the Manfrotto 410 Jr. Geared Head for close-up photography (see last month’s newsletter.)
Sand bags-for those situations where a tripod is too high off the ground.
Rain Suit-Randy and I also refer to this as our “Bog Armor” which we use when we venture into the bogs and swamps later in the year during orchid season. Using both jacket and pants will keep you from getting your clothes muddy, in the swamps and bogs it also protects you from mosquito bites-hence the reference to “armor”.
Scrims and Reflectors-I carry two 32″ Photoflex scrims and one 12″ Photoflex gold/silver reflector with me. These are handy for days when the light is harsh. They also make 5 in 1 varieties of scrims which are convertible into reflectors-these are handy as well. For supporting the reflectors carry a couple of the green bamboo stakes sold at greenhouses for supporting tomato plants-sometimes you just don’t have enough hands.
In addition to your camera there are a few items that make you photo shoot more pleasant and give you better results:
Cable release-a must for sharp photos.
Extension tubes-Kenko or Promaster brands are fine. Extension tubes have no optics so they are simply spacers put between the camera body and the lens. They allow you to get closer to your subject. Typically you can buy a set of these (12, 24, and 36mm) for about $150-200, which makes them an inexpensive alternative to a macro lens.
700in f2.8 lens-This lens is considered by most nature photographers to be their “workhorse” lens and once again it proves it’s worth during these photo shoots. Add 24mm of extension tubes to this lens and you have one of the best set-ups for wildflower photography you can have.
Macro Lens-for those situations where the above combination will not get you as close as you desire. If you shoot with a “APS-C” sized digital sensor (Canon Rebels, D40, D50 or Nikon D60, D90 or D300 ect…) your best focal length for a macro is a 90, 100, or 105. If you shoot with a full frame digital camera I recommend a 180 or 200mm focal length macro lens.
Wide Angle Lens–don’t forget your wide angle lens for overviews and scenics.