Alaska Trips Gear Bag with comments… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Alaska Trips Gear Bag with comments...


I felt like a shipping clerk yesterday, sending large boxes with lenses here and there and signing for various large boxes. I still need to get to more boxes today, one with the 10-stop and 15-stop 77mm Singh-Ray Mor-Slo Filters and one from home for the 500 II. was in bed early and slept till 5am. Tomorrow is getaway day. That makes today packing day. Almost all the laundry is done.

It was good talking to Denise Ippolito yesterday after she returned home from an exploratory trip to Iceland. You can check out her images here. Be sure to click and enlarge the opening image….

This seemingly easy-to-assemble, mostly cut-and-pasted blog post took me about 3 hours to prepare. It was published from my Mom’s house in Holbrook, NY at 6:10am on Thursday, August 20, 2015.

Please Remember to shop the BAA Online Store, and to use our Affiliate Links 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. B&H is recommended for you major photography gear purchases, Amazon for your household, entertainment, and general purpose stuff. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod heads, Gitzo tripods, Wimberley heads and plates, LensCoats and accessories, and the like. 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 just learned that my account was suspended during my absence; it should be up and running by Monday at the latest.

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, 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 visiting the BAA Online store as well.

Alaska Trips Gear Bag

I am taking a busman’s holiday cruise along the inside passage with Denise Ippolito, from Juneau to Ketchikan. After that it I am off to Kodiak for the Bears Catching Salmon IPT. And then home.

My big decision for these two trips again dealt with which super-telephoto lens to bring. (Yeah, I know: life is tough….) I decided early-on that with the bears often at relatively close range that I would ship the 600 II back to Florida before heading to JFK for our flights to Juneau on Friday. That narrowed my choices down to three lenses: the 200-400 II with Internal Extender that I used so successfully on the last bear boat trip (with a 1.4X TC in my pocket to get to 784mm full frame if need be), the new 400 DO II alone or with either TC, or the 500 II, again alone or with either TC.

In another very close call–all three combinations would have been excellent for the two trips, I decided to go with the 500II for reach with the 2X II TC over the other two and because it is lighter than the 200-400 by almost a pound (though not quite as versatile).

I previously made one Bear Boat trip with the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens and was pleased with its relatively light weight and the reach with either the 1.4X or 2X TC. As each day passes weight becomes a more important factor when choosing what gear I will travel with. That said my shoulder did fine at Nickerson with the 600 II and my Wheeleeze. I will be carrying the 500 II in the Think Tank Glass Limo on hikes and landings. And I can hand hold it from the skiff if need be for short periods.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. I will again be using this lens as my on-the-shoulder intermediate telephoto zoom lens with either the 5D III or the 7D II via a Black Rapid RS-7 strap. The 100-400 focal length fits nicely with the 500II. I will be using it a lot on both trips for bears and for just about everything else. Again it was a fairly easy decision to leave the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at home for the two Alaska trips. I might miss it here and there in low light and for scenics when I need to be on a tripod….

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens. This all-purpose B-roll lens will be at hand for two weeks. On landings it will be in my Vested Interest Xtrahand vest where it can be grabbed when needed.

I am bringing the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens primarily for the inside passage cruise. We are hoping that we run into some nice scenic opportunities.

I will have the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens with the optional Canon Tripod Mount Ring D for IS 100mm f/2.8L Macro Lens in hopes of running into some late season wildflowers. There should be room in my ThinkTank Airport SecurityTM V2.0 for the three short lenses.

Camera Bodies

EOS-1D X. I will use my rugged pro body both with the 500 II and with the 100-400 II, the latter in low light situations. The more powerful 1D X battery makes it better choice when I am working at 1000mm.

5D Mark III. Depending on the situation, I can use either the 5D III (in low light) or the 7D II (on brighter days) on the 100-400 II. On gloomy days I when I need the 1D X on the 100-400 II I will go with the 5D III on the 500 II.

EOS-7D Mark II. In addition to part time pairing with the 100-400 II on bright days I will go to the 7D II/500II combo (with or without either TC) whenever I need extra reach.

The 5D II that was converted to IR by Kolari Vision will travel in one of my checked bags. Learn more about Kolari Vision and IR here or here.


I will, as usual, be making this trip with three Canon 1.4X III TCs and two 2X III TCs, Why so many TCs? With my style of bird photography–tight, clean, and graphic–I cannot afford to be without both TCs in the event of an accident or malfunction. Most common in the latter category would be that the locking pin sticks occasionally. When that happens, there is a risk of having your camera body hit the ground….

Questions Welcome

If you have a question about any of my gear choices here please feel free to leave a comment. Do you disagree with any of my choices? What would you be brining to Alaska? And why?

Do Not Forget List!

Whenever I choose to leave one of my Singh-Ray filters at home on a big trip I always come to regret it. Quickly. So I recently added the following items to my “Do Not Forget Items to Bring on all Trips” packing list:

Singh-Ray 77mm Warming Circular Polarizer
Singh-Ray 77mm Mor-Slo 5-stop Glass ND filter
Singh-Ray 77mm Mor-Slo 3-stop Resin ND filter
Singh-Ray 5-stop glass 52mm filter to fit the Canon drop-in Filter Holder

I absolutely love the Singh-Ray 3-stop Resin and 5-stop Glass Neutral Density Filters. I use the 77mm versions of these filters on my 24-105, my 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS, and my new and beloved 100-400mm IS II lens so that I can create blurs on sunny days without having to stop down to f/too-many dust spots…. With a 5-stop glass ND in place I can easily get down to shutter speeds of 1/2 second and slower on clear, bright sunny days.

Important Corrected Ordering Info for Singh-Ray 52mm Drop-In ND Filters

BIRDS AS ART and Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure worked with Singh-Ray to produce both a 3-stop Resin Neutral Density filter ($124) and a 5-stop Glass ND filter ($275) to fit the filter drawers of Canon Super-telephoto lenses. If you will be heading to Bosque this season, you will want at least one of the 52mm ND filters in your Xtrahand vest. To order one of the 52mm Mor-Slo filters for Canon, you will need to call Singh-Ray at 1-800-486-5501 (toll free) or 1-863-993-4100 (eastern time zone). Tell them that you want either the 52mm 3-stop Resin Mor-Slo ND or the 52mm 5-stop Glass ND (or both), give them the code artie10, and then arrange to send them your filter holder. Why? Singh-Ray needs to confirm a perfect fit for each order and in addition, they will install and clean the filter. That’s why you need an extra filter holder or two:) See below for info on those.

Folks who use other brand lenses will need to follow the procedure above, specify their lens brand and filter size, and mention the artie10 code. Those folks are invited to contact me via e-mail if they would like me to create a logo link for their brand-specific filter holder….

Please remember that you will not get your 10% discount without mentioning the artie10 code. And I would not receive my affiliate commission. Thanks as always for remembering to use our discount/affiliate code with your Singh-Ray phone and web orders.

Singh-Ray Filters

Singh-Ray filters have been used by the world’s top photographers for many decades. As always, I will have my 77mm Singh-Ray Warming Polarizer in my vest in case of rainbows. And I now travel (as above) with various Singh-Ray ND filters so that I can create pleasing blurs even with clear skies and bright sun. See here for a great example.

No other filter manufacturer comes close to matching the quality of Singh-Ray’s optical glass that is comparable to that used by NASA. And they continue to pioneer the most innovative products on the market like their ColorCombo polarizer, Vari-ND variable and Mor-Slo 15-stop neutral density filters. When you use their filters, you’ll create better, more dramatic images and, unlike other filters, with absolutely no sacrifice in image quality. All Singh-Ray filters are handcrafted in the USA.

Best News: 10% Discount/Code at checkout: artie10

To shop for Singh-Ray’s most popular solid ND filter, the 10-Stop Mor-Slo Glass Filter liter (for example), click on the logo link above, click on “Neutral and color Solid Neutral Density Filters (glass), then click on “Mor-Slo™ 5, 10, 15 and 20-Stop Solid Neutral Density Filters (glass),” choose the size and model, add to cart, and then checkout. At checkout, type artie10 into the “Have a coupon? Click here to enter your code” box, and a healthy 10% discount will be applied to your total. In addition to enjoying the world’s best filter at 10% off you will be supporting my efforts here on the blog.

The 10- and 15-stop Mor Slo filters are great for landscapes with water and moving clouds. With the 10-stop, 1/125th becomes 8 seconds and with the 15-stop, 4 minutes. I need to get at least one of those soon….

52mm Filter Holder Insanity

It would be complete insanity to have to screw out the glass filter and then screw in a 52mm ND filter each time that you need it. The only option is to purchase a spare filter holder or two, screw the filter in, and keep that setup intact and ready to use. Singh-Ray includes a really neat soft leather filter holder with each purchase. I store all of the filters that I travel with in one of the small upper zippered pockets of my Xtrahand vest. I have two extra filter holders and will be bringing both the 3-Stop 52mm Resin ND and the 5-Stop 52mm Glass ND to Bosque.

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. I will use the slightly smaller of the two, the Airport International™ LE Classic for my Southern Ocean trip. Except for the Singh-Ray polarizer, I everything above fit easily into my Airport Security™ V 2.0 Rolling Camera Bag on Thursday afternoon. It tipped the scales at 44 1/4 pounds; the legal limit for US flights is 40 pounds. 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 4 1/4 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.

Think Tank Urban Disguise Laptop Shoulder Bag

Both denise and I use and love this amazing bag as it has tons of room and enables us to bring tons of extra stuff.

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 errors….


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

Support the BAA Blog. Support the BAA Bulletins: Shop B&H here!

We want and need to keep providing you with the latest free information, photography and Photoshop lessons, and all manner of related information. Show your appreciation by making your purchases immediately after clicking on any of our B&H or Amazon Affiliate links in this blog post. Remember, B&H ain’t just photography!


Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use this link:

Amazon Canada

Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here. Many thanks to those who have written.


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

12 comments to Alaska Trips Gear Bag with comments…

  • Which Urban Disguise shoulder bag are you using specifically? There are several. I like the idea of shoulder bags in general, but I’ve yet to find one big enough for the 400 f/5.6 I still use when I want minimal weight.

  • avatar Louis Degennaro

    Artie, I am curious why you have not tried the new 5ds.. I just downloaded shots from my last shoot with the 5ds and the 7d ml II . I was shocked at the image quality differences. I was also surprised at how versatile the 5ds is in spite of its slow frame rate and small buffer. I ‘m not sure I will be able to shoot any other camera in the futurel. Lou Degennaro

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Sounds great but old dogs are sometimes scared of new tricks. BTW, if you used my B&H link please shoot it to me via e-mail. artie

  • avatar Mal Graham

    Hi Artie,
    If weight wasn’t a factor (and the shoulders were in their prime) would your big glass decision change? Would you step up to the 600mm in that case? Or “down” to the 200-400? Or maybe given that you’d take the 100-400 regardless would you stick with the 500 because it pairs so well with that focal range?

  • avatar Bob

    how do these xume rings work with wide angle? I assume they cause the filter to more likely vignette?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I am still learning. Little or no vignetting out to 24mm. Not sure but if you go wider than 24 and stop down vignetting might not be a problem. Once I get some images with the 10-stop I will let everyone know the best options for ordering the Xume stuff… I just ordered one of the sets…. a

  • avatar StuartA

    Hi Artie

    Further to your comment about the x2 III converter, it seems Andy Rouse has had a change of heart as can be read in the following extract from the latest “Canon Professional Network’ newsletter –

    “As for his full kitbag, Andy explains: “For the nesting I had two stills cameras and one video [camera]. I had the C300 and the 200-400mm [lens]. Then for the stills side it was very much the EOS-1D X and the 500mm with a 1.4x [extender] or even up to the version III 2x converter, which was fabulous for the stills – I’d never use that for the video. Often I’d also have the 7D Mark II lurking on the ground with a 100-400mm [lens] on it. For the courtship it was exactly the same set-up except for having the 7D Mark II on the 200-400mm [lens] instead of the C300.”

    Hope you have a great trip!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. Keeping an open mind is a good thing. I have no qualms about the optical quality of the Canon Series III TCs. artie

  • Artie, have you looked into the XUME magnetic filter holders? I love em’


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. I will be looking into them. I understand that they are mandatory for the 10- and 15-stop Singh Ray Mor-Slo NDs. I will try to get my hands on the XUME stuff soon. a

  • Safe travels Arthur…I never leave home without my Singh-Ray filters either…looking forward to seeing your images and some bear blurs too 🙂

  • avatar Scott Borowy

    Now you just need a camera modified for ultraviolet wavelengths.

    Your Field Guide is Wrong: A Bird’s Eye View of the World