The Great Journey in Photography

Long Lens Dilemma

Hawk looking off a bluff

300mm f8.0 250iso 1/400sec

So today I am having a bit of a dilemma. At the end of the year I will be in Alaska photographing Bald Eagles. It is not going to be one of the popular boat tours where photographers shoot from the deck most of the time but rather a fully land based  trip that will be in the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines AK. The Dilemma? Lenses. Yeah, I guess you could say that is a bit of  an issue on any adventure but this time it is a little more critical for me. First, I will congratulate myself a bit by saying that now is the time to start working these thing out. Six months + is a good start time. Back to dilemma, how am I going to select and get the lenses I need to where I am going to be. I have been shooting the 300mm f2.8 lens for years at this point and it is by far the favorite lens that I own but we all know you can’t have too many millimeters in bird photography. I have enough hours  on it that the lens has essentially become an extension of my body. Good reason for that too, because it also produces the best images I have ever seen in the super tele class. I really can’t imagine the trip with out the 300. I doubt that I will be able to travel with two long lenses though, fly to Seattle, then to Juneau, then a ferry trip to Haines is too much for one person to handle so I don’t plan on going that route. I wonder if I am going to need a longer lens. Perhaps the Eagles on the preserve are not fearful of humans and it will be possible to get very close. I know at Bosque Del Apache you don’t need more than a 300mm lens, you can get that close. So I have a couple of options.

I can have a longer lens sent up to Alaska. Photographers do this all the time but it will be rather expensive and a bit risky. I don’t want to do it unless I have to. I most likely will pack a 200-500mm Tamron lens for emergency use and it just may wind up being an emergency use case when I do need a longer lens so why incur the additional expense.
Case two has only the 300mm and the big 36megapixel D800 camera body. I think the 300 (even with a 1.4TC) is sharp enough to withstand a high level of cropping. This is a path I am considering using on a permanent basis. For more info on that visit my Sigmonster review from last year. Fortunately for me I am not alone in this little dilemma. I have the luxury of being able to (actually required) have a phone conservation with the workshop leader in a couple of weeks. It is nice to be able to consult with an expert.

I am sure I will be writing a lot about preparations for the trip in the coming months so stay tuned. Stop by once a week. I will be pleased to everyone’s thoughts on travel tips and thanks for stopping by today. Be good.


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