MY OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR
Photography is a huge part of what I do here on Bearfoot Theory. I’ve always enjoyed photography, but I didn’t pick up my first DSLR until a few years ago, which shows that anyone with drive can learn. Since starting my blog, I participated in the Summit Series Adventure Photography workshop in Jackson Hole, where I learned a ton about my camera and how to get the shot. I’m also a GoPro Ambassador and rely on my GoPro and Karma Grip to get steady video footage and fun shots of myself when I’m traveling solo. Below you’ll find links to my favorite camera gear, some less expensive recommendations for those getting started, and a few blog posts I’ve written about photography. More coming soon!
OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY FAQS
WHAT CAMERA BODY DO YOU USE?
I recently upgraded to the Sony Alpha ARII. It’s a full frame mirrorless camera with a lightweight body, a big sensor, and an interchangeable lens system.
WHAT CAMERA LENSES DO YOU USE FOR OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY?
The Sony Alpha system uses FE-mount lenses.
I have three different lenses that I use on my outdoor adventures. If I’m going backpacking and can only bring one lens, my go to is the Sony 16-35 mm f 4.0 wide angle Zeiss lens. It captures wide landscapes and I love taking sunburst pics with it.
My next go-to is my zoom lens – the Sony 24-240 mm FE lens. To be honest, this isn’t my favorite lens. It’s not as sharp as I’d like and the color is a little dull, but it covers a huge range of focal lengths, making it a convenient option when I don’t want to carry a bunch of different lenses.
Finally, if I’m taking a picture of a person or a product that I want to stand out against a landscape background, I love my Sony 35mm f 1.4 prime lens. This lens has a nice bokeh effect and allows me to blur the background behind my subject.
WHY DID I CHOOSE SONY?
My first “real” camera was a Sony. I bought the NEX-3 a year or so before I started my blog. It was one of their earlier mirrorless bodies and was extremely lightweight, and ended up being a great option for my trip on the John Muir Trail. Then as I was looking to upgrade to a full-frame DSLR, I read great things about the newer Sony Alpha lineup. The Sony Alpha cameras are lighter and smaller than Nikon and Canon, which was important to me considering I’m often lugging my gear into the backcountry. Before I took the plunge, I rented a couple of different cameras and took them with me on backpacking trips, and the lightweight Sony body is what sold me. Plus I was already familiar their system and had a couple of e-mount lenses that would transfer to more professional Sony body.
I DON’T WANT TO SPEND THAT MUCH. WHAT CAMERA WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
I totally agree that my camera setup is more than what 99% of photo hobbyists need or should spend on a camera kit. If you are on a tighter budget but still serious about learning photography and how to shoot in manual, I recommend the Sony a6000. It comes with a 16-50mm kit lens that is really decent for the price and that focal length will cover everything from landscapes to portraits. The a6000 is also a LOT smaller and lighter than my camera, so you’ll be more inclined to take it out with you on your adventures. The NEX-3 that I started on was an earlier version of this, and I know a lot of adventurer photographers that use this camera and love it.
HOW DO I TAKE A GOOD NIGHTTIME SHOT?
Good night photography takes a lot of patience, but once you figure out the formula it’s not all that hard. In addition to a camera that shoots in manual, first thing you’ll need is a tripod. For backpacking and hiking, I currently use the MeFoto Day Trip Tripod. The advantages are it weighs 1.75 pounds and is very compact. On the other side, I find the twist locks on the legs a bit annoying. Whatever tripod you choose, that’s the first step.
Next you’ll want to put your camera on manual focus and move the focus point to your subject. If it’s the stars, put your focus point there. If it’s a tent, go there instead. Next, lower your aperture to the lowest f-stop your lens will go to, put your shutter speed on 15 seconds, and set your ISO to 1600. Set a two second timer so you don’t get any shake from pushing the button, and take a picture. Wait and see what it looks like. If the picture is too dark, lengthen your shutter speed to 30 seconds. Too bright, lower your ISO to 1000. Take another picture and then keep adjusting until you get the exposure you want. You can also experiment by putting a light inside your tent or doing some light painting with you headlamp. If this is a topic people are interested in, I can write up a whole post on it.
WHAT GOPRO DO YOU USE?
I’m use the latest camera in GoPro’s lineup – the Hero5 Black. It’s waterproof without a case, has a built in touch screen, operates on voice command, and is easy to send photos right to you phone for instant sharing. The battery life is also eons better than previous versions of the GoPro.
HOW TO DO YOU GET STABLE GOPRO VIDEO FOOTAGE?
One year ago, my mom told me my videos were making her nauseous (thanks mom :)), so I decided to get my first gimbal (the EVO GP-Pro). Gimbals remove shake and allow you to get stable looking, cinematic like footage. Now I won’t shoot GoPro footage without one. Currently I’m using the GoPro Karma Grip as my gimbal. It’s much heavier that the EVO GP-Pro, but the advantage of the Karma Grip is that it’s one of the only GoPro gimbals that you can either hand hold, or you can mount it using any of the standard GoPro mounts. Over the winter, I’d mount it to my backpack when skiing to get super smooth POV footage which turned out pretty sick. For anyone who is serious about making videos, I’d highly recommended investing in a gimbal, as it will take your videos to a whole new level. Here’s a video I posted on Instagram that was shot with the GoPro Karma. See how stable it is compared to hand holding the camera?
WHAT OTHER GOPRO ACCESSORIES DO YOU USE?
Check out my post where I share my favorite GoPro tips and tricks. That post has a list of my most commonly used accessories.
HOW DO YOU EDIT YOUR VIDEOS?
I actually don’t do most of my editing. A majority of my stuff on YouTube is edited by my friend Nate Fillnow Films, and he primarily uses Adobe Premiere. When I do want to make an edit on the fly, I use GoPro’s Quik software. It’s a free phone and desktop app. All you do is upload the clips, pick the style of cuts, choose some music, and bam. The program makes all of the cuts to the beat in the matter of seconds. For anyone who has a bunch of GoPro footage and doesn’t know what to do with it, the Quik app is an awesome option.