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Thread: Yellowstone and Tetons

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Yellowstone and Tetons

    Like everyone else, trying to figure out exactly how to live in the time of a pandemic is a challenge. I have been working continuously from home as all work trips have been canceled and my wife and I have cancelled three different trips. But, considering, IMO, that this has the potential to go on until sometime in 2021, I wanted to see my family during the summer thinking that is likely better than holiday trips over the winter. My wife and I also wanted to go on at least one vacation this year.

    So...we decided to combine my trip to Idaho to see family with a trip to the Tetons/Yellowstone in late July/early August hoping things would be "under control." We have 3 nights based out of Jackson Hole and 4 nights based out of West Yellowstone. This decision was made two weeks ago. I am not sure we would make the same decision today, but so far it is not bad enough for me to cancel the plans we made.

    With that as the background and with the trip ~3 weeks away, I am starting to think about my kit. Knowing that the last time I was in Yellowstone was 20+ years ago and a couple on the forum have been more recent, I thought I would check in.

    So, the questions get to be:
    • Bring the 500 mm? I am thinking yes. But this creates some obvious issues in that if I do, I likely also want to have a zoom telephoto and maybe a second body.
    • For a zoom telephoto, what do people think about the 70-200 f/2.8 II? The thought here is that it would be better for low light and getting subject separation. I am slowly transitioning my photographic mindset from "getting every shot" to "getting the best shots possible" and I am thinking the 100-400 II is more the former and the 70-200 II might be better for the latter mindset.
    • Do I need to rent or even buy a second body, other than M6 II? I have proven the M6II works with the 500 f/4 II, the main issue is consistent AF accuracy on fine details. On subjects larger than a small bird, it actually does pretty well. But, especially if I am wielding the 500 f/4 on one body, it will be nice to have a something on a second body.
    • Binoculars, any thoughts? My wife remembers on the last trip she vowed to have a spotting scope if we ever returned, so that is being discussed. But, I have a 10x pair of binoculars and a 15x pair.


    Thanks in advance....Brant

  2. #2
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    I hope you will have a great trip! I have been to Yellowstone and the Tetons as a teen , as a newly-wed, a parent of school kids and a near-retiree. All different and all very enjoyable trips.

    I would vote for a 70-200 mm zoom as just right for some landscape and thermal features.
    Whirligig Geyser by dfwatsoneuro, on Flickr

    No need for f/2.8 there, but at 200 mm f/2.8 you have a good substitute for a macro lens for interesting wildflowers.


    I would love to see your shots of birds and wildlife with the 500 mm lens. If you are trekking the Lamar Valley to seek out wildlife, the 500 mm would be THE lens. On the other hand, I recall many occasions when wildlife got close just by chance, for example a moose grazing on shrubs in the parking lot of the Jackson Lodge about 3 feet from our car. So I think an extender for the 70-200 on the M6 II would handle some shots of birds and wildlife and be much lighter to pack.

    For views of the Snake River Valley from the Tetons, I can recommend the Amphitheater Lake Trail. The trail requires only walking uphill, no technical skills. Good views of lakes and the valley start halfway up (about 2.5 miles and 1500 feet gain in elevation) if you don’t want to go to the top.

    I liked the “big sky” of a wide angle for such shots, but a panorama with some compression (say about 100 mm focal length) could also be a great idea.
    Snake River Valley by dfwatsoneuro, on Flickr



    In any case, have a wonderful trip, and stay safe!

    Danny

  3. #3
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    When we went last August I took:

    5DMKIV
    5DS-R
    600mm
    100-400mm
    24-70mm + Tiffen Variable 8 Stop ND filter
    1.4 and 2.0 teleconverters
    Manfrotto Aluminum Travel tripod with FlexShooter Pro Head

    Here was my thinking:

    I wanted 2 bodies for back up in case of a catastrophic failure or accident.

    I was not really concerned about needing f/2.8 lenses but wanted my highest resolution bodies.

    Most all the wildlife we saw (except Bison) were not very close to the road so I did use the 600mm and the converters

    I wanted the 100-400mm for closer range stuff and it's close focusing ability (pseudo-macro)....ended up using it on some landscapes too.

    The 24-70mm remained on the 5DSR for landscapes

    Used the ND filter and tripod for long exposures of water and thermal features.

    I had never been there before and was very impressed with the massiveness of it. We stayed near the east entrance in Cody and only made it down to Jackson Lake lodge near the Tetons for just a few hours (long drive from Cody). We did get up to the North entrance too to see Mammoth Springs and the Lamar Valley. The whole trip was great and I was pleased with my choices of gear. I'm sure you will have a wonderful time and capture some beautiful images with whatever you choose to bring.
    Last edited by Joel Eade; 06-30-2020 at 05:23 PM.

  4. #4
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    Be sure to take something wide. A lot of the thermal pools look great from low and wide, especially Grand Prismatic.

    Also, a good CPL to cut reflections. Mammoth Hot Springs for example will look absolutely surreal through a polarized filter, as will the above pools.

    I think the 500 will be amazing. If you bring it, then the 70-200 seems appropriate for landscapes and larger wildlife. I also think a second body, even if just your M, will save you some time and hassle if bringing the 500.

    Check out Dragon's Mouth for a completely nonvisual thrill. Underrated attraction in my opinion.

  5. #5
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    I have been going about every year since 08. I have a friend who has a cabin in West Yellowstone.
    I would only take two lenses.
    The 500mm with a 1.4x
    The 24x70 L II.
    Take two bodies.
    Tripod for the 500mm doesn't hurt, but a mono will suffice.
    You may only get a hand full of oppritunities that are great shots for the 500mm.
    There will be many for the 24x70.
    I would leave the 100-400 and 70-200. Added weight and seldom did I ever need them, I took everything the first few years.

    Binoculars. Get one of the IS versions from Canon. The IS is a must have.

  6. #6
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    Also do not forget all the waterfalls and geysers. If I remember right you went through a waterfall phase a few years ago and there will be more opportunity for long exposure than pictures of bear.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions and tips everyone! Much appreciated.

    It should be a good trip. And I should have included this in my initial post, but one reason I am excited is Yellowstone allows for photographing many things, which is right up my alley. Waterfalls (), landscapes, large mammals, birds, geysers, and reflections in pools. I am planning on a little of everything. Just thinking about it, if I come back with a good shots of sunrise/sunset of the Tetons, a pool reflection, steam coming off a pool, couple of waterfalls, and a couple of mammals, I will be very happy.

    The parts of my kit that I didn't mention but will definitely be coming with me include a tripod (some debate regarding my travel tripod vs my larger tripod w/ gimbal, but it will most likely be the smaller tripod), 6 stop/10 stop ND filters, CPL, shutter release, etc. I do own a monopod, but have never used it much and wasn't really planning on taking it, but I'll give that some more thought.

    This might change, but mulling over the above, I am thinking:
    • My kit:
      • 5DIV and M6 II (I had been considering renting a 1DX III, and I still am, but the more I think about it, I may not want to evaluate a new camera on vacation)
      • One of:
        • EFm 11-22
        • 16-35 f/4 IS

      • 24-70 II
      • 85 f/1.4 IS (a bit odd, but instead of the 70-200, and I am following Yellowstone with a trip to see family in Idaho and often end up taking a portrait or two. Plus, I could see some creative photography)
      • 500 f/4 II plus the teleconverters.

    • Wife's kit (if she agrees ):
      • 80D
      • 15-85
      • 100-400 II


    Thanks again...Brant

  8. #8
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    That looks good but.... forget the monopod. You will want to do to some long exposures. You won't need a gimbal most likely so a smaller tripod should be adequate if steady enough to shoot exposures up to several seconds and allow auto exposure bracketing as well if you're into that kind of thing. Also don't think the 1DxIII would benefit you much either.....I found very limited bird opportunities when I was there and certainly not many in flight chances within range to make a really nice image. I did see some hawks and one or two eagles but they were out of acceptable range for anything but just a landscape type of shot that included a perched or flying bird very small in the frame but who knows.....you could have a different experience.
    Last edited by Joel Eade; 07-03-2020 at 05:12 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jonathan Huyer's Avatar
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    Yes I agree with Joel - you can probably skip the gimbal tripod and the monopod. I'm guessing that wildlife will be spotted along the road, so in most cases you would shoot from the car, or if safe to do so you would get out and shoot from behind your vehicle. So for those instances you can hand-hold or brace the lens on the car. I own a monopod but I've only used it in a boat where space is really tight. I can also see why sports photographers use them on the sidelines of football games. But for any other activity, a monopod will probably feel inadequate.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone.

    I agree, I think my travel tripod makes the most sense.

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