Tech Talk with Photographer John E. Marriott

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Written by bike posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2010

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Rockies.com nature photographer John E. Marriott recently weighed in on his camera gear preferences and even doled out some professional tips.
Marriott has been photographing in the Canadian Rockies since he was six-years-old. His professional career began when he was hired by Parks Canada to photograph Banff National Park in 1992.
In the past eleven years, his work has taken off. He has published four photography books, including Banff & Lake Louise: Images of Banff National Park.
Take his advice and you could come away with some real “stunners!”
What equipment do you use? Canon? Nikon? Leica? Other?
Canon EOS digital cameras and lenses. I use a Canon 5D Mark II for my landscapes and a Canon 1D Mark IV for my wildlife photography.
Do you use long lenses or wide lenses?
Definitely both, as I shoot wildlife, landscapes and even some macro photography. For the macro shots, I use Kenko extension tubes to allow me to focus in closely on subjects using my normal lenses (and without having to buy and carry an extra macro lens or two).
Do you use zoom lenses or fixed lenses?
I have a mix of both. My big lenses are fixed (500mm f4), but my smaller wide angle lenses are zooms (17-40 f4, 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 2.8).
Do you use a tripod or a monopod?
I have two tripods: a big beastly (yet still light) Gitzo that is taller than me, and a light little carbon fiber Sherpa Pro for backpacking and hiking. I also use a beanbag, which I sit on my car windowsill and shoot wildlife with. It’s often easier to photograph animals from inside your car than outside (they act more natural)!
What ISO/film speed would you recommend for this type of photography?
Use what you’re comfortable with and test out what your camera can do. If all you care about is web images, then you can use an ISO as high as 6400 (though this is very dependent on which camera you have. If you want to make 16×24 prints, then you may want to keep it down to 800 ISO. I shoot landscapes at 50-200 ISO and wildlife at 400-3200 ISO with an occasional shot at 6400.
Can you recommend a good camera bag?
I use a Gura Gear Kiboko bag, which is perfect for fitting the large amount of gear that I have, and yet is still airline compliant. But really, camera bags are personal preference, so go with what feels good for you.
Do you shoot raw files or jpg?
Raw because it’s much easier to make changes (adjust it without affecting the file and degrading the image).
How much memory do you carry with you?
Ninety-four gigabytes worth of cards on any given day!
Do you have any favorite editing software?
Photoshop, the guru of photo software! I also use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional and Adobe Lightroom.
How many “great” shots do you aim for a day?
I don’t shoot aiming for a “great” shot, instead I just go out and hope that I come back with something useable, and along the way get a few of what I call “stunners.” A great shoot for a day would include one or more “stunners,” but that’s not always possible.
Any recommendations for photographers dealing with adverse weather?
Get out there and take pictures!! Some of the best shots come in lousy weather, so I’m fully outfitted with rain gear and rain covers for all my cameras and lenses. I also always carry a full assortment of cold weather gear. I regularly go out in -30 C!
Any other professional tips?
Buy little pocket heaters and toe warmers. They’re invaluable for heating you and to squeeze a bit of extra juice out of your batteries. Also, find cold weather gloves that allow you to shoot with the gloves on. If you have to take them off to shoot, they won’t do you any good if something amazing starts happening in front of you.
To view or purchase photos by John E. Marriott, visit Canadian Rockies Photography.
All photographs contributed by John E. Marriott.


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