Determined

As I am typing this blog post I am on a 14 hour trek from New Jersey to Japan. While packing for this trip I was going over lots of ideas that I have had regarding my upcoming photography in Japan. I also went to over my lens selection–over and over again and am going to try a gutsy move this year. On all of my previous trips I have brought my EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens, EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens,EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens, EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens, EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens, Teleconverters, 2 camera bodies–EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR Camera Canon EOS-1D X DSLR Camera . But this year I have decided to go lighter and try a different approach. I am going to try to use one main lens for most of the trip. I will be relying on my EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens with my Extender EF 1.4X III.

Why? Well, I used the 100-400mm with 1.4ex in the Falklandโ€™s almost exclusively and I fell in love with it. I like the minimum focusing distance, the sharpness, the flexibility of a zoom lens, the ability to hand hold this lens also played a big part in my decision making. Anytime you are able to move freely and quickly when working with wildlife can be an asset. The only leg of the trip I fear I might be too short with only 560mm total, unless I use my 2x, would be for the Red-crowned Cranes. However, there have been many shots missed at the sanctuary with my 600mm lens as I was just a touch too tight. I know whatever lens I have in my hand will be the right one for me because I will make it work. You can never underestimate determination and I have that in spades.

My co-leader for this trip Paul McKenzie and I will be leading a Kyoto pre-trip before heading straight to the Snow Monkeys. I canโ€™t wait to photograph them again this year. They are hard to resist; they are inquisitive, expressive, photogenic beyond words and extremely human-like. I often find myself gazing into their eyes trying to figure out what they are thinking about. Are they as curious about all of us as we are of them? Or maybe they think we are no big deal, just another thing to get accustomed to as they go about their daily rituals. Either way they fascinate me.

Wish me luck and I will definitely keep you posted and share photos when I get a chance.

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24 Responses

  1. Donna Bourdon says:

    Good luck. I can’t wait to see your results with the 100-400. I almost never choose that lens for all the reasons you described. But I always want to – for all the reasons you described. I know I will be inspired by your results and your boldness!

    Hi Donna, Hope it works out ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll keep you posted.
    denise

  2. Sonia says:

    Safe travels and best of luck. I look forward to seeing your photos and hearing how you feel about your lens choice.

    Thanks Sonia, I appreciate it and I’ll keep you posted-fingers crossed.
    denise

  3. Ann Franzen says:

    Good luck, Denise. itโ€™s such fun to live vicariously!

    Hi Ann, thank you so much!
    denise

  4. It’s always a tough decision on which lenses to bring or leave behind. I’m sure you’ll do great no matter what. Some day I hope to see the Macaques. Have a great & safe trip Denise! Looking forward to you posting the photos!

    Hi Scott, thank you so much!
    denise

  5. Jim Fennessy says:

    You killed it in the Falklands with that lighter gear, and I am sure that you will again in Japan. It’s good to change things up every once in a while. You already have the greatest tight, up close & personal, snow monkey images from your prior workshops in Japan. Forcing yourself to go wider like this will add a new dimension. I can’t wait to see your images from this workshop.

    Thanks Jim, my thoughts exactly ๐Ÿ™‚
    denise

  6. donna joy a. yang says:

    Best of Luck Denise..pls do share photos..Kyoto is beautiful..

    Thank you Donna, much appreciated. Kyoto is beautiful indeed!
    denise

  7. Tom Rostron says:

    Good luck Denise. Can’t wait to see your photos with this different approach and a comparison to last years photos.


    Thanks Tom, the pressure is on!
    denise

  8. James Saxon says:

    Good luck. We are all trying to go “lighter” with our gear but still get the photo. I am a little surprised you did not try to use your Olympus gear on this trip.


    I wanted to see what I could do with the 100-400mm.
    thanks, denise

  9. Evelyn Young says:

    well good luck with that lens Denise. If I know you, you will come back with the most wonderful shots.

    Thanks Evie, I appreciate it!
    denise

  10. Definitely looking forward to your thoughts on this – good on you for taking the ‘risk’ only it really isn’t a risk!

    Thanks so much Laurie, I will keep everyone posted!
    denise

  11. Linda Seal says:

    I love your attitude and determination. There’s a lesson for all of us in your statement that, “whatever lens I have in my hand is the right one”. Can’t wait to see your images and hear about your trip. Safe travels

    Hi Linda, thanks so much for your support!
    denise

  12. Tony Botelho says:

    Good luck Denise, sounds like a very wise move to travel lighter. I feel sometimes as photographers we get caught up in thinking that we need a ton of lenses instead of making the best that we can with just a few good lenses. You may, or may not be able be to get every shot that is possible not having your 600mm. On the other hand you will have the freedom of being able to travel lighter, and faster with the 100-400 and benefit from that combination. Looking forward to what you post from this trip. Safe travels!

    Hi Tony, yes, I like the idea of having the freedom, I know I will be happy with my choice even if I miss a few…
    denise

  13. Chas.McRae says:

    Hi Denise
    I used that combination in India and in that particular setting it was great. Replaced my 600mm with new lighter 500mm which I prefer for small bird unless on a boardwalk. Have a great trip !


    Hi Chas, Nice to hear from you, thanks for sharing!
    denise

  14. Sally Foster says:

    My determined friend will figure it out and come up with stellar photos (of the eagles, too) ๐Ÿ™‚
    What fun!

    Thanks Sally, see you soon!
    hugs, denise

  15. Ron May says:

    I will be very interested to hear your comments on the use of your 1.4X and the 100-400II combination. I sold my 600mm as it was just too bulky and heavy to cart around the world. Instead, I did exactly what you did, I went for the 100-400II + 1.4XIII combination and found it worked perfectly for my Africa trips and my Bosque trip, as well as others. I have no complaints about the images I was able to capture. I carry my 24-105II and my 16-35 as well. I look forward to seeing the results of your Japan trip. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Ron,
    Can’t wait to see how I make out!
    denise

  16. Sue Eberhart says:

    Interesting to hear your thoughts about lens choice, something many struggle with, also. “Make it work,” is exactly what you will do and can’t wait to see your images! Have a wonderful trip!

    I will let you know as soon as I can. Thank you Sue for your support!
    denise

  17. Don Schroder says:

    “Determined” is your middle name! Your Japan shoot is always one of my favorites. I look forward to seeing what you come home with.

    Thank you Don, much appreciated!
    denise

  18. Glenn Pagel says:

    As I said recently….I can wish you good luck, but your skill is worth far more than any amount of luck.

    You would produce awesome images if all you brought with was an original Kodak Brownie with meniscus lens.

    Put me down for a 24×36 print of your favorite image taken with the 100-400 on this trip, with my complete faith that I will love it.

    Hi Glenn, thank you so much for having so much faith in me!
    denise

  19. Lynn Fulton says:

    Have a great trip! Hokkaido is still hands down one of my favourite places. You are the master of “making it work”, and I have every confidence that you will be bringing back your usual stellar images. ๐Ÿ™‚ Safe travels…

    Thanks Lynn, miss you here!
    denise

  20. Sharon Hallowell says:

    So next year you’re just gonna take your phone, right? LOL! I’ve been thinking that I would also like to leave the heavy 500 at home, and use the 100-400 in Scotland, along with a couple of wider lenses. Thanks to this post, I WILL make it work! Livin’ on the “edge”!

    I love it! Livin’ on the edge!!
    denise

  21. Jim Wetherall says:

    Denise, inspiring photo (as usual!)
    I made a similar decision on a trip to Spain last week. I was photographing Griffon Vultures in El Chorro with the 100-400 + 1.4x combo, it was great, but… next time I will be taking my 600mm with me, would of been handy to have a little bit of extra reach. Getting closer wasn’t an option due to the sheer drop 1m in front of my feet!
    Interested in what you use to transport your usual kit list, that’s a lot of lenses! Not sure how I could get that amount of gear through airport security as carry-on!

    Thanks Jim,
    I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I use Think Tanks Urban Disguise carry on and Lowepro x200 roller bag.
    denise

  22. The sheer bliss of where you are and what you are doing always comes through in your images!

    Going lighter with gear may have you feeling lighter yourself.
    Look forward to seeing your posts!

    Thank you so much!
    denise

  23. Muriel McClellan says:

    Thanks for sharing your decision about the 100-400 lens. Also will look forward to seeing your images from this fantastic trip. I remember the trip I took with you and Paul…. a highlight in my photographic travels. I am so happy for those traveling with you!!!!!

    Hi Muriel, we will miss you! Thanks,
    denise

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