John Whittles Wildlife

Photographic Stuff

Most of the photographs on this site were taken with Canon equipment.

I use a Canon 30D digital camera with an 8 mega pixel sensor. This is now old equipment (given the rate at which new models are introduced) but I can print good images to A4 and have had some printed to A3. After the Madagascar trip I added a second 30D.

On an expedition, constantly changing lenses is a chore and is likely to introduce dust onto the sensor. It can also result in missing shots. One body has the Canon 100-400 IS Zoom and the other the 17-85 IS Zoom. These gives a good range of focal lengths and are adequate for most purposes. I usually also carry either the 1.4x or 2x Canon converter.

I also use the Canon 60mm f2.8 macro lens and a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens.

I have a Manfrotto 055 PRO B tripod fitted with a Kirk ball and socket head. For panning shots I add a Wimberley Sidekick. Most of the time I use a home made stock with a telescopic shoulder brace. This takes the camera with the 100-400 and can also accommodate the 1.4x converter. The stock has a bush to accept a tripod screw. This set up can just be seen on the opening picture on the home page. It is very useful for photographing birds in flight.

For flash I use the canon 430 EX Speedlight, but I am now experimenting with a ring flash for macro work.

For sensor cleaning, I use an Arctic Butterfly electric brush system, backed up with swabs & fluid from the same company. Dust spots on the sensor is a particular problem in the cold dry air of the Arctic, particularly if one is changing lenses.

For editing I use Photoshop CS2 which, although now superseded, is excellent for most photographers needs. It is expensive, especially as Adobe sell it in Europe for about twice the price they charge in the USA & Canada. I was lucky to be able to buy mine at less that half price when Adobe released CS3 and some retailers were offloading old stock.

I also have Adobe Lightroom which is aimed more at photographers than publishers. It is a good product but I still use CS2 for some things. I find that the cloning and spot removal tools are very good in Photoshop but cumbersome in Lightroom. I do recommend Nix Dfine 2.00 as a Photoshop (and Lightroom) plug in. It is noise reduction software and far better than that provided by Adobe. Itís particularly useful if you are pushing the ISO in low light or wanting a fast shutter speed for, say, birds in flight.

If the budget wonít run to Photoshop or Lightroom, then Adobe Photoshop Elements is a good buy.

The other piece of essential kit is old trousers. The best wildlife photographs are usually taken from very low down. A black bin liner can also protect you from the one piece of dung you find just after you have lain in it.