Camera and experience:
All Photographers are welcome! Your Camera Brand is not important! Even a smart phone is acceptable. You should know basic operations of your equipment. How to change Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO at the very least, and a good understanding of how your menu system works. However!... If this is why you're going a PhotoSafari in the first place? Cool! We'll get it done.
If using a smart Phone? Understand how to use it at least a little bit. I'm kinda surprised by all I've been able to teach my students with smart phone Photography as well.
Which computer system you use is also not important. They all work, they are all simply tools we use for our creations. You should have a basic understanding of your system, how to create folders, where your data is located etc. Make sure any external hard drives you need are with you and their necessary cables.
All PhotoSafari Attendees are welcome to have their laptops with them for Photo Editing Instruction. I recommend having LightRoom Classic Installed. This is very important! LightRoom Classic and Lightroom Mobile are miles apart! LightRoom Classic uses the icon LrC, not Lr. The latest version of PhotoShop is also recommended.
It is best to make sure all programs are updated before you leave town to attend! A bonus installation would include the Nik Software Suite. If you do not own this, a 30 day trial can be installed prior to leaving on PhotoSafari.
Other good software to own and use for editing include Topaz Noise Reduction AI, The TK9 Panel (for advanced users only) and many other possible PhotoShop plugins. I specifically demonstrate the software above. Contact me prior to attending with any questions you might have.
Recommended Camera Lenses:
For night sky work wide fast glass is the best. A 14mm f/2.8 is very good. However you can also use a 24mm or even a 50mm. Simply understand your field of view is less. Can you overcome this? Yes, simply shoot multiple image panoramas and stitch those together in post. One of the best night sky lenses out there to start with is the reasonably priced Rokinon/Samyang 14mm f/2.8.
This lens is a great starter lens on a full frame camera at about 249.00. Are there better lenses? Yup! But they can be eye watering, heart stopping expensive. Best to start with this and move forward to taste. (and budget!)
My personal Milky Way night sky lens of choice is the Nikon 14-24 f/2.8. I've had this lens since it was introduced in 2007. It's a legendary piece of glass. There are supposedly "better" lenses out there now over this one, but I've owned this lens for years. I have honestly not seen enough improvement in the other lenses out there now to justify me dropping large chunks of cash on them.
If you're in the market for glass? I suggest you try mine on a PhotoSafari. I can then let you know of places to pick up this lens in excellent condition for cheap.
On crop sensor cameras? I recommend the Tokina ATX 11-20mm f/2.8 if you can find one. It was discontinued in 2020.
Standard Everyday Photography:
On my personal camera 75% of the time is a Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 lens. If you have a lens of the variable aperture type such as an 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6? Understand a lens of this type will limit you in some aspects, yet expand your horizons in others.
We will help you understand this if you do not already know. It's always better to have lenses that are capable of the same aperture through it's entire range. Yes we understand, those can be pricey. So don't stress if you do not have those. Many times in our safaris other attendees will have a lens you might borrow. We encourage this. Be kind, and be responsible. Once you shoot with others friendships occur! This is a good thing!
Any lens above or below a 50mm prime lens is considered "specialty" glass. Wide angle is considered to be 24mm. Ultra-wide 14mm. 10mm is Fisheye. Lenses in the range of 85mm to 135mm are considered "portrait lenses." Above 135mm are considered tele-photo lenses.
All of these lenses offer different opportunities for your photography. Do you "need" a lot of lenses? Nope! Should you bring every lens you own with you everywhere you go? I definitely think not, but that's my opinion. It's not your gear, it's the 6" behind it.
I actually challenge myself all the time and head out to shoot with one lens. Once again, it's not the gear, it's the six inches behind it. The smart phone camera today is far more advanced than anything Ansel Adams ever used.
However we could debate this thinking till the end of time and still never agree. My position is to use whatever you wish to create as you wish. After all... It's your art isn't it?
If you would like to know what gear I use you are welcome to check out the information by clicking HERE. Do I use all of my gear all of the time? Nope!
Every photographer should own a good tripod. In my opinion a carbon fiber one is best. It's lighter, strong, and reduces vibrations. However! A tripod that is too light is also not good.
After all... what are we after? To steady our shot correct? So yes, I own more than one tripod designed for specific uses. Once again those are listed on my gear page.
I usually have at least two tripods in my personal kit. If you need a tripod I have them for rent. Let me know.
Once again this topic is varied and an exceptionally personal decision. But a good bag to hold all of your equipment is necessary.
Once again very personal decisions here! I always advocate to dress for the weather and YOUR comfort level in that weather! Layers are king, and so is being prepared for anything. Check weather apps for a general idea prior to any excursion! The Best Weather App is currently called "Windy" and it's free!
A hint... skiers and outdoors people know very well how to dress light and warm. Polypropylene is your friend. It wicks moisture away from you. There's more... REI is a great retailer, and if you're a member there, you can return anything for up to a year later! Yes, even your boots! (yes I'm a member, no they don't pay me to tell you this)
I always gear my PhotoSafaris for the clients participating. If there will be strenuous hiking involved I mention it. However! I'm no spring chicken either! So most of my PhotoSafaris are not going to harm anyone. If you have a handicap of any nature it's your responsibility to notify me personally, and your responsibility to have all necessary medications with you.
Bottom line? A lot of my clientele are seniors. I cater to them. Why? Because anyone younger can easily attend and do as they wish. I'll take care of them too! My lead assistant is also a registered nurses. I am also checked out for all emergencies and CPR.
I carry a satellite phone on all PhotoSafaris in case of emergency.