Never put your camera down!

Orca whale at sea

Carrying a 28-300 or 100-400 Canon lens round for two weeks is no mean feat – Especially when you are ‘working’ 20 hour days sometimes, scrambling up mountainsides and getting in and out of zodiacs into the sea daily. What we’ve learned is that by goodness the Canon L lenses are robust. They’ll take a heck of a lot – extremes of hot and cold, rough seas and arctic winds, bumps up arctic mountains and rolls around the cabin floors (accidental and we would not recommend this for testing purposes!)

They are also remarkably versatile. Whilst we love and treasure the 100-400 (which has served us well for wildlife shots worldwide), we found the 28-300 had an excellent range for landscape shots. Capable of capturing ‘wide angle’ for landscapes (bearing in mind the cropped sensor of our SLRs) and working at a satisfactory level of zoom for wildlife. For the first time in years, the selection of lenses resulted in us not zooming in full – instead working on 200mm zoom for wildlife shots – because once you are in the Arctic, it becomes essential to capture your subject in its environment.

Shake can be an issue with the weight of the equipment – The 28-300 lens was 1.6kg without the weight of the SLR body. But the beauty of mountainous and rocky landscapes is that you can always find makeshift tripods – from rocks to boulders, knees to heather.  I should point out that we did take a carbon fibre tripod, but used this exclusively on the Canon 7D and 100-400 lens to ensure we had stable video footage and close up shots when needed.

I am conscious that all of this sounds very composed, whereas in fact we were running around like madmen a lot of the time. You can guarantee that for the 5 minutes we left our cameras in our cabin or took time for a cuppa, that we’d be caught needing to run back to collect the equipment as whales would magically appear on the horizon. We soon learned never to be without our cameras for any amount of time and that things happen when you least expect it with the elusive arctic wildlife.

A few of our fellow passengers remarked how hard we were working and how prepared we always were – I’m glad we hid the inner turmoil from any witnesses as we were often caught out by nature!

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