South America Trip Gear Bag « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

South America Trip Gear Bag

What’s Up?

I am somewhere in South America. I hope that you are well. Jim and Jen are at the office most days to help you with your mail order needs and Instructional Photo-Tour sign-ups. I still need folks for San Diego, Japan, Galapagos, the Palouse, and the Bear Boat (Grizzly Cubs) trips. Among others 🙂 Please e-mail for couples and discount info for all of the above. Click here for complete IPT info.

I will have internet access for all but 22 OCT thru 11 NOV while I am on the Sea Spirit. Best and great picture making, artie

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of the folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Streak: 338!

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 338 days in a row with a new educational blog post. There should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. Or not… As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.

My South America Trip Gear Bag/Going Relatively Light

On my first trip to the Southern Ocean everyone told me I was nuts to bring my 500. Until they saw the images. On my next trip about four years later I dropped down to the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender and did quite well. More recently the trend was to the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens with both TCs. This year I was planning on going with the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens as my “big glass” with both TCs of course. But after having so much fun at DeSoto recently with the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens I decided to bring the 500 II as my big lens and the 400 DO II for flight photography (especially from the ship along with the 1.4X III TC) and as a big lens back-up.

It was light years easier working with the 500 II on the beach than with the 600 II. And the 500 II will serve me well on the two land-based Falklands trips, on the coast of Peru, and in the jungles of Peru as well. The 600 lenses might be best left for the young and the strong and the truly focal-length-hungry. As each day goes by, weight becomes a more important factor when choosing what gear I will travel with.

Next up of course is the world’s premier penguin lens, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. This lens absolutely kills on tame birds and wildlife and as everyone here knows, I love its amazing close focusing capabilities. All while making a pretty darned good flight lens especially on the Falklands.

For my b-roll short zoom I will am taking the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM “don’t leave home without it” lens soon to be replaced (but not soon enough to make this trip) by the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens.

That was it for lenses until I realized that I could not get by with two checked bags so at the very last minute I threw in the small and light Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens just in case I feel strong enough to make it up near the top of Salisbury Plain one more time in this life. I’ve only been up once … And that was quickly followed by the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens. Again, this one was taken with one day in mind: St. Andrews Bay. Though I am not very good with wide angle lenses I have made a few good ones at this spectacular location that is actually more spectacular in January than it is earlier in the season.

Camera Bodies

Boy, things have changed here rapidly.

My two main camera bodies will both be the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. I do not plan on using my Canon EOS-1D X Mark II a whole lot except possibly when doing flight photography from the stern of the ship.


I am making this trip with two Canon 1.4X III TCs and two 2X III TCs.

Flash Stuff

I will be bringing my flash gear for the tanagers and hummingbirds in the cloud forests of Peru. Though I would love to have a high speed flash hummer set-up along taking all that gear is just not feasible. I am taking two Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT flashes, two Canon OC-E3 Off Camera Shoe Cords,(2′) two Mongoose Integrated Flash Arms, and two Better Beamers.

Having the flash mounted on a bracket well above the camera will reduce but usually not completely eliminate red-eye, flash-eye, steel eye, purple eye with birds and green eye with many mammals. With the flash mounted on camera the light from the flash reflects off the subject’s retina causing a variety of problems. Using a Better Beamer concentrates the light from the flash and yields an increase in flash output of about 2 2/3 stops, allows you to work at greater distances with smaller apertures, reduces battery drain, weighs just 2 1/2 ounces, and holds the Fresnel lens in place with no sagging or flopping. It fits in your pocket and set up and removal is quick and easy.) To learn about flash as main light, fill flash, and manual flash, see the Flash Simplified section in The Art of Bird Photography II (ABP II: 916 pages, 900+ images on CD only).

Questions Welcome

If you have a question about any of my gear choices above or below, please feel free to leave a comment.

Think Tank Rolling Bags

I will be using the larger of my two Think Tank rolling bags, the Airport Security™ V 2.0 Rolling Camera Bag. It tipped the scales at 43 1/2 pounds for this trip; the legal limit for US flights is 40 pounds. And it is a a lot less on many if the South American legs … Nearly all countries in the world give you slack as far as the 40 pounds goes on the way back to the US. As far as the extra 3 1/2 pounds, I have only been hassled for weight once in more than three decades of flying around the world …. I hope that I do not give myself a kine-ahora this time.

Think Tank Urban Disguise Laptop Shoulder Bag

I love this amazing bag as it has tons of room, enables me to bring tons of extra stuff, and even lets me stow a lens or two if I get busted at the gate for my vert or for an overweight carryon.

Please click on my Think Tank affiliate link here to earn a free gift when you purchase a Think Tank Rolling Bag.

Delkin Flash Cards

As always, I will have a 64gb Delkin e-Film Pro Flash Card in each camera body so that I never have to change cards in the field thus reducing the risk of losing a card…. Please note the new lower prices here. I do have a few extra 32 and 64gb cards in a Delkin CF Memory Card Tote, mostly to protect against operator error …

XtraHand Vest

I use a custom-designed XtraHand Magnum Vest that John Storrie knows as the BIRDS AS ART Big Lens Vest. It is based on their Magnum vest. The vest is a godsend both when traveling and in the field at many locations. It will make every landing with me on South Georgia and the Falklands on the CES Expedition and on every land-based Falklands outing as well. When traveling by air, it can save you if you get busted at the gate …

If you do a search for for “vest’ or “vested interest” or “xtrahand” in the little white box on the upper right side of each blog page, it will take you to many mentions in both the blog and the Bulletins with lots of additional info. See especially here and here.

Once you call John you can discuss customizing your vest. Be sure to have a tape measure in hand. Please let him know that I sent you .


John Storrie e-mail:

U.S. Only: 1 800 928 0157
Outside U.S.: 1+ 940 484 2222

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!


In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right 🙂

5 comments to South America Trip Gear Bag

  • Hi Artie,
    after years of struggle through travelling and your blog advice I have bought Think Tank Airport Security™ V 3.0 Rolling Camera Bag today. As living in New Zealand had to buy it locally. BTW, a lot of yours links from your web and blog do not work, please re-check them when back home.
    Enjoy your trip and have fun

  • avatar Graham hedrick

    The 5d4 must rock if the 1dx is relegated to back of the boat lens. Almost bought a 1d x

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    Hi Artie, That’s a lot of gear!
    no tripod?
    When you leave your hotel, do you take all the gear with you, or do you take and use luggage locks for your bags and leave them in the room?
    When you’re in the field (rain forest), are you simply taking what you can carry in the vest and on the camera body? if yes, are you leaving your extra gear in the car or the hotel?

    Would love to hear how you deal with this!
    Thanks & have fun!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Yes Induro GIT 304 L 🙂

      I don’t lock anything and often leave stuff in the room. A very trusting NYer 🙂

      I’ve used my X-trahand vest every day on Saunders. On Bleaker, we have an SUV 🙂

      later and love, artie