This post is part one of a multi-part series on my most recent trip to Oregon.
Trust me, a few eagle pictures are coming soon!
When I think about it, I have mostly been a fair weather photographer. Honestly, who doesn’t want to make pictures in the south of France in September? There is, however, something appealing about venturing out when most of the population is snuggled up to their fireplaces in the comfort of their homes. A few years’ back I can’t say that I would have sought out a photography trip in the middle of January. Until now. For me, winter photography holds the promise of unique photo opportunities in uncrowded places.
Since eagles do things on their own schedule, we had to plan a trip that would maximize our opportunity to see them. I have not engaged in a lot of wildlife photography but I have a friend that really enjoys it. Recently, he mentioned that he wanted to fly up to Oregon to make pictures of Bald Eagles at the Klamath Falls Wildlife Refuge. Not having been to Oregon before, I piped up and said let’s go! It seemed like a prime opportunity to see an unfamiliar part of the country and to try something new while doing something I love. Taking in the splendor of nature while capturing beauty through the iris of my camera’s lens. The final itinerary we settled on called for two days in Klamath Falls at the refuge, and three days making our way back to Portland by car along the Oregon coast with a stop at the base of Mount Hood for good measure.
Having not packed for cold weather photography before, I had to break my fair weather routine. My goal was to travel as light as possible while carrying enough equipment to make the pictures I wanted. The photo below shows everything I took for the five-day trip. This included all my camera gear, a tripod and monopod, plus all my clothes and necessities. All of this went on the plane as my two allowed carry on items.
To carry my camera gear, I decided on the F-Stop Tilopa Back Country backpack (shown above right). It is a pretty amazing bag that can be adapted to a variety of carrying needs. What’s nifty is that you can buy what F-Stop calls ICUs, or Internal Camera Units. They have different sizes to accommodate the needs of different adventures. The ICUs, which are available in small to monster sizes, hold your camera gear nice and secure and slide conveniently into the backpack for easy access while in the field. You just pick the size of ICU you need for gear and the balance of the storage in the bag can be used for other things. Brilliant!
For my trip, I used the large ICU (shown loaded below), which still left a bit of room in my pack for the other short-hike items that I needed. Within the large ICU, I was able to fit the following items:
- Canon 5Dmark II
- Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II Telephoto Lens
- Canon 24-105mm Zoom Lens
- Canon 17-40mm Wide Angle Zoom Lens
- Canon 1.4x III Teleconverter
- Two Batteries and Charger
- Three 16GB Compact Flash Cards
- Really Right Stuff Pano Elements Panning Base and Nodal Slide
- Three Singh Ray 77mm Filters
- Three Singh Ray Neutral Density Grad Filters plus the Filter Holder
- Canon Remote Release
- USB Camera Connection Cable
Fully loaded, the large ICU with this gear weighed in at 20.5 pounds. Pretty awesome, huh? The dilemma was, however, with $13,000 worth of gear in my ICU, I could not risk having to gate-check the large Tilopa backpack loaded with camera gear and send it down into the cargo hold of the turboprop. To avoid this on the trip out to Klamath Falls, I decided to put the gear-loaded large ICU in the sturdy carry on canvas bag shown above along with my MacBook Air laptop. My Tilopa backpack was then loaded with my trip clothes and necessities as well as my tripod and monopod. This way, I could keep the expensive and fragile camera gear with me on the plane even if I needed to gate-check the backpack.
Once I got to Klamath Falls, I simply transferred my clothes to my canvas bag and slid the ICU back into into the Tilopa backpack. Now I was all ready to go hiking and picture making!
Next up will be a post on my experiences at the wildlife refuge and a few photo of the eagles that I was able to make. Stick around, I think you will like them!