What photography gear should I bring?

by Bruce Farnsworth - 0 Comments

Try to travel as light as possible, so that you can bring the nucleus of your photographic equipment as carry-on luggage and be less burdened during your tour. Be sure to review your international carrier’s requirements and policies on luggage.

There will be nice opportunities for bird photography at the parrot and parakeet licks and during our dugout canoe trips up and down the Añanguyacu River and it’s various inlets. For birds, you will want a super-telephoto lens (minimum 400 or 500mm), with an external shoe-mount TTL flash for fill light and getting those “catch lights” in the birds’ eyes. We recommend you also get a “flash extender.” These are pocket-size folding Fresnel lens attachments that magnify your flash output for telephoto lens use.

For general wildlife photography, you can make fine images with a 300mm-500mm lens. The “fast” versions of these lenses, with large maximum apertures (e.g. 300mm f/2.8, 500mm f/2.8) are expensive for a reason, allowing photographers to monitor focus and maintain shutter speed in the lower light levels of dawn and dusk when wildlife are typically more active. Two online outlets for lens rental are linked in the next question. Be sure to bring a tripod which is rigid enough to support your largest lens.

Bruce’s favorite lenses are the 24-105mm, 70-200mm and 500mm focal lengths. Most of his images are made on the two smaller lenses. It’s always best when the focal lengths of your zoom lenses overlap as in the case above. Otherwise, you may find yourself changing lenses too often.

There is no better place for close-up or “macro” photography than the neotropical rainforests of the western Amazon basin. From early morning butterflies, to miniature plant designs to night hike discoveries, the closeup opportunities are endless. Macro lenses up to 100mm in focal length allow you to get close to your subjects, and this is best for two reasons, provided it is safe to do so. Short focusing distances allow you to work around intervening leaves and branches. Another benefit is your strobe will provide a larger light source in relation to your subject, yielding softer light. If you don’t have a speciality macro lens, then find a compatible extension tube or a high-quality two-element diopter (aka “close-up filter”) set made by the major lens manufacturers. These can be placed on standard short telephotos and short telephoto zoom lenses. On our night hikes near the lodges, you enjoy closeup photography of insects and amphibians. It’s very helpful to have a dedicated TTL off-camera cable for your flash. As the critters move, you can move the strobe with them.

Light comes at a premium on the rainforest floor, so you shouldn’t be using too much filtration, but a polarizing filter can reduce glare off wet vegetation and cut through mid-day haze. The split neutral-density filters (fine glass ones are made by Tiffen and Singh-Ray) darken the upper portion of the image, allowing you to bring an entire landscape photograph within the recordable range of contrast.

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