Friday, July 15, 2016

GETTING READY for the MUSTANG WALKABOUT 2016

Today I took out and examined my equipment (happy dance)...

Camera: I bring a Canon 7D Mark ii and a back-up Canon Rebel T3ii. The lenses fit both. I usually have them professionally cleaned over the winter so they are ready for the spring, summer, and autumn photography trips.

Lenses: I use a 100-400mm image stabilised Canon lens most of the time. The Rebel has a 18-135 mm for panoramic vistas. I carry both in the field to make sure my lenses overlap. I also have a 18-55 mm but that won't cover the area from 55-100 mm so I bring the 18-135 mm. This way I have a full range of lens choice that overlap. A lot of camera stores sell refurbished used lenses and this is a great way to get a lens for a reduced price.  You must have a lens with a minimum distance of 300 mm because you cannot approach the horses closer than 100 feet in most management areas so a long lens is crucial.

Memory Cards: I buy new cards every year. The most important thing is the speed and the size. Get a size that you won't have to swap cards out frequently, but make sure to have extras. I find the highest speeds to be the best for mustang photography. For the SD Cards, go for 90-95mb/sec read/write and Class 3. Compact Flash Cards come in 120mb/s for the high speed setting. You want to be able to use the camera's rapid fire capability, so you'll want the card to match the speed of the camera. I also recommend many smaller sized cards versus one huge card. I usually carry 64MB, 32MB and few 16MB.

If something spectacular happens (and it often does), those photos may turn out to be some of your best work, take the card out of the camera and put it in a safe place when the action is over. The precious photos will be safe and you won't have to deal with a card failure (rare, but it happens). I kept my first photos of Picasso on a CF Card and carried all the way home after backing it up multiple times.  Another trick- I keep empty cards in my right pocket, and used cards in my left. They are numbered 1,2,3 etc and this way I instantly know what cards are used and which are empty.

Batteries: I carry four. Two are in the battery-grip for the camera all the time and so far, I haven't had to replace the double battery even after 12 hours of shooting. But I always carry four freshly charged batteries in the field. The back-up camera has a single battery and I carry a spare. We charge them using car charger adaptors or we also use a PowerVerter or Power Inverter which offers plugs and uses the car lighter for the power source. We charge batteries while we drive to save time.

Monopod/Tripod: There are wonderful to stabilise your camera. At places like the waterhole, there is a lot of action going on all the time. Karen usually has one leg of her tripod extended and she will drop the other two if it looks like we will be stationary for a while. I usually carry the tripod with all three legs extended.

External Hard Drives: I carry a 2TB hard drive and a ColorSpace UDMA2 and I upload every night. I don't even look at the photos until they are backed-up on two external hard drives and then, sparingly. Once I am home, they get backed up via the Cloud and the hard drive goes into the safe. Only then do I go through all the photos. The nice part about the ColorSpace is functions as a hard drive AND as a file viewer with a nice sized LCD screen.

Computer/ Laptop: I bring my Macbook into the field. It is very light and has a nice sized screen. I opted for the Macbook over the Macbook-Air because the Macbook run Photoshop- always useful to have to examine photos if necessary or after they are backed-up.

Binoculars: As an avid bird watcher, I have a good sturdy pair. You'll need them for the bands in the distance.  I have a simple pair of 8x42 Bushnell.

Sundries:

  • Snake bite kit, yes there are snakes out on the range. So far, no one has been bitten, just watch where you put your feet at all times. The Prairie Rattlesnake is generally docile but even the shyest snake will bite if it is stepped on. Some people wear snake-gaiters and I carry a pair.
  • Sunscreen- tons of the stuff
  • Cooling evaporative towel (Frog Tog)
  • Lens cleaning kits
  • Storm covers- some of the best photos are just before a storm but protect your camera at all times.
  • Food/water/cellphone with car charger
*Always let some know where you are, how long you plan to be there and when you expect to return.


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