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| p.2 #3 · Summer Vacation Gear Fest |
I moved my oldest daughter from college in Illinois to her summer job in Yellowstone earlier this month, and turned it into a family vacation with the other two teenagers and spouse flying out to meet us there.
Since I was driving, I had no constraints on gear, and took A LOT. Too much, even...
A large backpack had my 500L with both extenders, 70-200 2.8 II, 100L macro, 50L, spotting scope, T4i as backup body, and various accessories - filters, sidekick, lightning trigger, chargers, etc...A smaller pack held 5DIII, 24-105L, and 70-300L.
I couldn't decide between taking the 70-300 or the 70-200 2.8, so I took both; the 2.8 lens is probably my favorite lens, and I anticipated needing it in shadowy forests and dawn/dusk shots. It never left the bag, partly because we always had bright sunny days, partly because mounting extenders was a pain, and mostly because the 70-300L is a pretty darn good lens...I even used it for some of my wildflower shots, but it was usually worth it to swap in the 100L macro; the IS was a huge benefit on the trails when I didn't want to haul along a tripod, and on roadside turnouts when I jumped out to take in a field of flowers...
On a couple of short hikes I carried a tripod (medium-duty Gitzo 3541) but never took it off, and thereafter left it in the vehicle. It was indispensable, however, for sunrise in the Tetons, extremely long ranges in the Hayden and Lamar Valleys, and for mounting the spotting scope.
I've dreamed for several years now of taking my 500mm to Yellowstone, but I found that either the wildlife was right next to the road (in easy reach of the 70-300), or it was two or three miles away, and even a 2x extender and the resulting 1000mm made the wolves into little more than gray dots with legs...of course I took the pictures anyway; if for no other reason than to help me remember the mornings we saw them...I did use it some to bring bighorns, R.M. sheep, osprey nests, and the like into range, but at times even my indulgent and supportive wife grew tired of waiting for me to assemble, use, and break down my gear...watching the ospreys trade off egg-sitting and fishing in the Canyon was thrilling, both for me and the grateful tourists I let see through the viewfinder...
The 50L was used only for town, restaurant, and other indoor and night time snapshots...
I really believe I could have been fine with only the 24-105, the 70-300, and the 100L macro (love those wildflowers!), but I'm not sure I'd think differently if (when) I drive out there again. I mean, some lenses are very specialized, and if I don't have them with me when those very special circumstances come up, then why have them at all? Of course, driving so far isn't usually an option, but it was a necessity this time.
Going through several thousand files (and this was a "family", not a "photographic" trip), I'm finding that 75% are deletable, 20% are "snapshots", good only for memories' sake, 4.75% are decent "keepers", good for internet display, and .25% are "good photography", worthy of printing and hanging...and I'll probably do that with about a half-dozen, for gifts and such...that's about what I expected for my level of ability...