The Right Lens at the Right Time

Being a nature photographer who spends much of his time hiking and biking to location shoots, having the right gear in my bag is a critical forethought to my success. Especially when the unexpected happens.

Case in point was this past weekend when an impromptu visit to Willingdon Beach in Powell River, BC presented me with a glorious natural spectacle out on the water. A good 50 or more Pacific White Sided Dolphins wowed the crowd with their feeding ritual that lasted a good 40 minutes.

You see, earlier that morning I had decided to take my eldest daughter Sadie for a round of mini golf at Putters, across the street from Willingdon Beach. Of course I wanted to get some shots of the lil cutie swinging away for a hole-in-one, so I dove into my camera bag for a quick inventory before we left.

Knowing that the day was warming up and that I didn’t want to be carrying a bag full of gear, I started to consider what I did need for the outing; my D-7000 (obviously), my Tokina 12-24mm and my Nikkor 18-105mm. Yup, these goodies should catch the magic of my five year old mini golf star in training. Leaving my Nikkor 70-300mm zoom lens should make my bag noticeably lighter.

But….for…some…reason….I…couldn’t….not…take…it.

So I packed it along just for kicks and to satisfy my gut feeling.

Man, am I glad I did.

After our game of mini putt we headed down to the beach to meet my wife and youngest daughter for some play time and ice cream. Upon getting to the beach, we immediately noticed a flurry of activity on the water, about 80 yards from shore.

“I think those are dolphins,” I exclaimed to Sadie with much excitement.

“I can’t see them daddy,” she replied with discouragement. I knew just how to fix that.

Out came the 70-300mm which barely made the cut when we left the house just hours earlier. With the help of its 300mm reach I was able to zoom right in to the feeding dolphins and show Sadie what they looked like. I was also able to fire off a good 20-30 shots of them feeding and interacting with kayakers and paddleboarders. Without the zoom, not only would I have zero proof of this amazing natural encounter, I don’t believe Sadie and I would have even got to see them as they moved further from shore to feed.

The old adage “F8 and be there” eludes to the fact that much of great photography is about capturing the pinnacle moment by simply being there in the first place. But after the amazing events of this past weekend, my new saying is “Zoom lens and be there.” I don’t even know what aperture I was using. DR