Canadian Rockies 3-week long trip blog

Grizzly Bear On the Lookout

On the Lookout - Olympus E-330, 50-200mm, 1.4tc


In September 2007 I took a 3 week trip to the Canadian Rockies and Vancouver Island for a walking/photography break. I took approx. 3.5k images (equalling c. 31GB), and had a lot of opportunities to ponder matters photographic, Olympus, and general. This a summary (!) of those thoughts.

It is less a diary, and more about understanding different facets of my kit, photography in general, and photographers.

1. Preparation, or “What shirt should I take?”

The second title is a reference to a thread on DPReview some time ago, where the OP was taking issue with the number of requests for advise on what gear, or more often, what lens they should take on a given trip. The suggestion was that these know-nothings were clogging up his bandwidth, shouldn’t be given the time of day, and if they didn’t know what gear to take, well, more fool them.

Well, I might ask what is a forum for? – is it only for pixel peeping, brand bashing, and waving your latest, or prospective, expensive gear about, in a “mine’s bigger than yours” way? I hope we agree on the answer to that.

I took this a little bit personally, because on forumfourthirdsphoto.com, I asked a related question – on a prospective trip to the Canadian Rockies, where I would be going on a Bear watching trip last September, would I need a 300mm lens? I got some great answers from the Canucks on the site, some of whom even offered to put me up while I was there!

All in all, the consensus was no – 50-200mm would be fine, particularly with a 1.4x tele-converter. (For non Olympus/fourthirds users, remember 2x equivalent field of view factor).  The attached image was taken with a 50-200mm, plus 1.4 teleconverter, eqv. to c. 560mm.

This advice saved me a lot of grief in terms of weight to be carried while trekking, volume of gear I could carry on to the plane, and security of gear whilst stowing kit during one particularly extensive 4 day hike (9 miles in, and out). Just remember, I was talking about a 300mm f2.8 – they’re hefty! One option now available for the four thirds user is the 70-300mm.

The conclusion then is if you have any concerns on a trip into the unknown, call upon the experience and knowledge of your fellow photographers – they are more than keen to help, and by showing off their images, you get a good idea of what to expect. Assuming a well regulated forum of course.

I will be making more observations on gear on long trips, so hold on for that, but I will just take up the subject of “shirts” here. Lately I have been taking more and more shots of wildlife. I have found that the more successful shoots are when you are “quiet”. This is a source of contention with my partner, but it extends beyond noise (read “chatter”!) – you need to wear “quiet” clothes as well – quiet in noise when you move (some jackets are noisier than others), but also in colour. She prefers pink you see – I had a real win on a trip watching wildlife in the Cota Donana Spain, where she agreed to wear a black t-shirt. I listed some 45 different species seen that day!

Advice on visiting London? – you can fold a Hawaiian shirt quite small, but I wouldn’t bother, even if you wanted to hit the nightclubs – and you’ll be shocked at the prices.

Mark L. Caton
2nd March ‘08

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