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Heading on a Trip to the Wilderness? What to bring?


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Daniel Hurtubise is doing a series on his upcoming trip to the Alaskan Wild.  Hopefully this will help you learn what you need to prepare for a huge expedition.  This week he will be discussing his gear.  Then next time he will discuss what else he is taking with him.

Like everybody else, the first question I had in mind was … what equipment do I bring?

One thing to keep in mind when choosing your equipment is the walking. We will be walking roughly 2 to 3 miles every day so carrying extra gear is a no go.


Should I bring a Full Frame or not. I decided not too since I could really use that 1.5x crop factor. For those who are not aware, all DX body have a crop factor. It’s basically how many times smaller is the captor versus a traditional one (24×36). That also means that  if you attach a lens to it, the focal distance gets multiply by that factor. So a 70-200 actually ends up being a 105-300 on that body.

So I decided to get another D300 body. Worst thing that could happen is a body that fails while out there. It’s a great body that behaves very well at high ISO. It packs 12.3 Megapixels and can shoot up to 8 frames per second.

I’m also bringing batteries… a lot of batteries. So far I have 8. Even though we will have the ability to recharge using solar power, I would rather not take any chance.

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The first one that I’m putting in my bag is my beloved Nikkor AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED. I never go anywhere without that lens. If you never worked with a VR lens(Vibration Reduction, IS for Canon) it basically adds roughly 3 stops to your lens. So you can take images in lower light conditions or at a faster speed to freeze the action.

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The second one that I’m bringing is the brand new AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED. Obviously I needed to bring a wide angle, I decided to get that one since it’s specially designed for DX format. But I was amazed by the range, 10-24, believe me that’s a lot. It’s not an f/2.8 but that’s not a big deal when getting a wide angle. You don’t really shoot panorama or landscape at that opening anyways.

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I’m also thinking of bringing the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED but I’m undecided yet. This is a very sharp lens and it would bridge the gap in my focal length.

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But on the other hand I’m not sure I need it. If any of you have any opinions, please feel free to tell me.

And I’m finally bringing a Point & Shoot to document the trip. I’ve waited a long time before getting one of those because I wanted the ability to shoot full manual or with any priorities. But I also wanted the ability to shoot RAW. You can definitely use RAW format when shooting nature photographing since …. lighting a mountain might be a hard task ;-). So since I’m a Nikon guy, I decided to go with the Coolpix P6000. Hard to believe that such a little body can pack 13.5 Megapixels.

That’s a great little camera to carry around. It also works with most of my Nikon equipment but be aware that past ISO 400 you need to be careful with noise. Nothing dramatic but you need to get rid of it at post-treatment.

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On the next post I will talk about what other things I’m bringing. In the mean time if you have any questions or comments of course go ahead and ask.

Below are answers to questions from the last post I did:

1. Michelle wrote: I think the obvious question I have (from looking at that picture) is how to not get eaten by a bear. 😉 We were just in yellowstone and I really could’ve used some tips for wildlife/nature photography since it’s not really “my thing.” 🙂 Looking forward to your series! (06/06/09, 10:05 am)

Hi Michelle, for the security thing…. Jim will have a gun but in 20 years he only had to use it twice. Hopefully he won’t have to use it a third time while I’m around.

I like the idea of wildlife/nature photography tips. I’ll make sure i write a post on it.

2. Johnna wrote: Daniel, thanks for taking the time to provide us with your assistance. I know it will be valuable. When you list your gear, please include the type of camera bag/backpack or whatever you use to carry it when you travel. Also, it would be great if you would list the image data for the images you share with us (ISO, f-stop, shutter speed, lens type/mm setting used). One more thing–RAW or jpeg?–but you don’t have to go into great detail. Thanks again. (06/06/09, 12:07 pm)

Hi Johnna, i will get in more detail about gear and stuff i carry for sure. As for the images exifs i will make sure to post them too so you have an idea of how it was done. RAW or JPEG…. i will live and die by the raw format (which i convert to DNG as soon as it’s out of the camera). You just gave me an idea of a post about workflow, thanks.

3. Kansas A wrote: I’m really looking forward to this! Can you tell us how you store your images until you get home? Size of your memory cards? Any photo editing in the field or nothing until you get back? How many batteries do you pack, I’m assuming you have no power for recharging? Do you lay and wait for the animals to come to you or “hunt” them down and use a huge telephoto lens and stay way back? Oh so many questions! 🙂 (06/06/09, 1:51 pm)

Hi KansasA, it’s funny enough that it was one of my first questions. I will actually store the pictures on an Epson P6000 every night. I also reformat every card once i put them back in the camera (which it could be part of My Menu on the camera).

I will be bringing at least 6 batteries, still unsure about bringing the battery grips or not, i will keep you posted.

We actually will have recharging ability with solar panel. It’s a preserve wildlife area and we’re fortunate enough to have access but to one condition…carbon 0. We cannot leave ANYTHING behind. So only rechargeable batteries

I don’t plan on carrying anything more than a 70-200 (more in a gear post) and a 1.7x multiplier. The bears get close enough and carrying anything bigger while we walk about 2-3 miles every day will not be an option for me.

4. Wendy wrote: I can’t wait this looks so fun and interesting!! (06/06/09, 5:29 pm)

Hi Wendy,

You have no idea how excited i am. Actually one of the most fun thing to do is … to plan the trip.

5. Margie wrote: This is coming at a great time for me! I’m going to Alaska next year, and I am anxious to read about your preparations and experiences. (06/06/09, 8:42 pm)

Hi Margie,

Where are you going exactly?

6. Beth @ Pages of Our Life wrote: Really looking forward to hearing more! Thanks for sharing Daniel. I’m really interested in your workflow after you get home. As a newbie in photography, I am quite daunted by the amount of time it takes to edit and process a trip like this. Any quick edit tips for making that part of it easier and less time consuming? Anying you share will be great! (06/07/09, 8:11 am)

Hi Beth,

A good start is always a good shot but…. You’re at MCP Actions, you’ll find a lot of actions to speed up the post-processing.

7. Kristal wrote: How fun! My question is can I come? Can’t wait to find out more. (06/07/09, 10:50 am)

Hi Kristal,

Too bad we don’t have another open spot…


No Comments

  1. Beth B on June 20, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Hold the press!!! I thought you were a Canon Girl??? Are you telling me you go both ways Jodi? LOL!

  2. Beth B on June 20, 2009 at 11:37 am

    OOPS! Just realized this was written by a guest! Guess I’d better pay better attention! LOL!

  3. Kansas A on June 20, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Thanks Daniel for answering my questions. Solar power! I didn’t even think of that, what a great idea. On my Canon T1i I have “format” on my menu for quick access because I think formatting the cards in the camera is much better than doing it on the computer. I look forward to your next post 🙂

  4. Penny on June 20, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Thank you. Fantastic post. I’m a D300 user. Don’t know if you plan to cover this, but would love to hear about your decisions on exposure while taking photos on the trip (how you get it in camera), and your method to get perfect focus. Jodi, thanks for having Daniel…wonderful.

  5. Summer Adams on June 20, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Great info. I can’t wait to see the pics and hear about the experience.

  6. Margie on June 20, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Daniel wrote: Where are you going exactly?Daniel, I’m going on a 2-week cruise-tour (one week cruise and one week land tour, through Anchorage, Denali National Park and Fairbanks). Nothing like the wilderness excursion you’re taking, but it’s truly the trip of a lifetime for me…I’ve wanted to visit Alaska since I read about it in geography class in grade school…ummm a little over 45 years now. I intend to take advantage of the day excursions at each port, like taking a helicopter that lands on a glacier and hiking through the wilderness. I’m very happy to see that the gear you are taking on your trip is very similar to what I have planned, except I’m a Canon girl. I’m glad I’m on the right track! Looking forward to your future posts!

  7. Tamara Stiles on June 23, 2009 at 9:54 am

    In an abandoned building downtown! I was using a Canon Rebel XTI and my ISO was 1600.

  8. Tamara Stiles on June 23, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Sorry I commented in the wrong section!!

  9. Andrea on June 23, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    My 2nd wedding ever was in an old church with stained glass windows.Oh, stained glass windows, I bet that was pretty, you say. Yea, pretty RED! The windows casted such a red tint over everything the brides dress looked deep pink to the naked eye. Lovely. Ok, so that wouldn’t have been so bad, you think, just take them outside. Yea that’s what I wanted too. But nooooo, the bride insisted that every single picture be taken inside the santuary.The kicker, I wasn’t allowed to use a flash, for anything, not even the posed pictures. I didn’t get started with posed pictures until 5:30PM (yes PM, you read that right) on an Ohio December night, so it was already dark (except for the street lights bringing in that awful red color).So, lets recap, no flash, red cast, candle lighting, refusal to go outdoors, and an ISO that saw nothing lower than 800 and that was only at the reception. It was fun. (note the sarcasm)

  10. Andrea on June 23, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Oops forgot to add, that was with a D80, so yea, it didn’t handle the high ISO well.

  11. Stacie H. on June 24, 2009 at 1:55 am

    The worst lighting – my house at night – when my daughter was blowing out her birthday candles! The pictures were not pretty. SO SAD! I was using a Nikon D60…and I was at a 1600 ISO.

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