Your Autumn 2015 Nature's Home magazine is on its way to you. I've already had lots of great feedback on the images in this issue (wait until you see our stone-curlew feature opener!), so I hope the latest guest blog from wildlife photographer, Tom Mason, combined with your latest magazine will inspire you to get out with your camera - and send us your results! Here's Tom with a selection of his amazing images from a recent trip to Peru.
The bizarre hoatzin provides a clear reminder that birds are direct descendants of dinosaurs!
With summer here and the holiday season well underway, you might be thinking about heading abroad. As a wildlife photographer, travel is always exciting, a chance to see new species and work in new environments, but it can also cause a headache with all that gear to pack!
I’ve put together a small wildlife photography travelling guide with some hints and tips for making your wildlife watching holiday photographically fruitful and a little less stressful!
Think about your subject
Before you head to your camera bag and start throwing everything inside, it always pays to take a moment to think about what you will actually be photographing. For example if you are going on safari, you may need everything from a long lens to a wide angle, but if you are going on a short family break where you are only likely to find some top quality insects to photograph, you may want to reconsider.
Being a photographer isn’t just about toting everything in your kit with you all the time, it’s about selecting the necessary items to get the job done. Look at space saving alternatives. Teleconverters can be an excellent way of achieving more reach without the need for huge lenses and choosing a compact camera as a back up, rather than a second DSLR.
The next thing to consider is how you are planning to get to your destination. If you are flying, you will be restricted to a carry on sized bag, where as if you are travelling by train or car, taking extra equipment is less of a hassle.
Take the right lens for the right situation - Tom has captured the action of macaws at a salt lick.
If you are flying, you need to make sure EVERYTHING essential in your photographic kit is within your carry on bag. This will certainly include all of your cameras and lenses that you are planning to take. Get hold of a carry on compatible bag to ensure that the kit you are carrying makes it onto the plane with you. Never let it go in the hold. If you are worried about weight restrictions and travelling with friends or family, share out your lenses into other peoples bag and then re pack after check in!
So what are the essential items when you are travelling?
Depending on the trip the lenses and gear alters due to assignment, but in most cases I will always have the below in my bag.
- Two Cameras (Two DSLRs or one and a compact/ smaller camera when on family trips)
- Wide angle (24-70)
- Telephoto (300mm)
- Teleconverter (1.4)
- Laptop and twin set of hard drives for copying and filing images.
My bare essentials, along with the necessary chargers, batteries and memory cards.
This kit will cover 90% of situations at a push, allowing me to get a full range of images from landscapes to close up portraits. In addition on many trips I will also add a super wide angle or mid telephoto along with a macro lens for close up or insect photography. These are of course assignment specific.
It's not easy to capture the atmosphere of tropical rainforests on camera.
A couple of important accessories that can often make a huge difference when travelling abroad are also found in my bag, including…
- An extension cable with surge protector - With batteries to charge as well as a laptop, instead of having to take multiple travel plug adaptors a single extension cord provides extra sockets making life far easier!
- Cleaning kit for lenses and cameras. To get the best images you need to keep your sensor and optics clean, I always have a rocket blower, sensor swabs and cleaning tissues in the bag.
- Leatherman multitool and Gaffers tape. Things break, tripods get loose, things come unstuck, this ultra small tool kit gets you out of a pinch. Just remember not to leave it in your hand luggage!
- Dry bags (Something I found very hand in the jungle). Perfect for keeping kit organised as well as protecting electronics from the wet. I always keep one of my hard drives in one of these just for added safety.
Travelling abroad is wonderful fun as a photographer. New subjects and landscapes, places and people. The key to making it enjoyable is reducing kit size to the minimum, making sure to keep your precious images backed up and protected from the trip (maybe even think about cloud storage) and keeping everything protected in transit.
With those things in mind, relax, enjoy and take some excellent images!
I would love to see how you get on during your travels, why not share some of your wildlife images from abroad with my on Twitter @TomMasonPhoto. If you would like to see more of my work, be sure to check out my website www.tommasonphoto.com