Immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty of California’s redwood coast, refine your photography skills, and create lasting memories with like-minded individuals on this extraordinary photo safari led by two photography experts, Jason P. Odell and Rick Walker.
Our journey begins in the coastal town of Crescent City, California, and will take us through majestic redwood groves. There, we’ll work on capturing a variety of forest subjects, including the redwoods, ferns, and other forest flora and fauna.
The safari also includes many shooting locations on the California coast, with excursions into southern Oregon. You’ll photograph rugged coastlines, waves, rocky outcrops and sea stacks. You’ll also get expert advice and field instruction along the way. With a student to instructor ratio of 4:1, this experience offers maximum learning.
This photo safari is limited to a maximum of eight photographers, so you’ll want to reserve your seat soon.
The Olympus 100-400mm telephoto zoom lens easily fits in the small Hadley Pro bag from Billingham.
A few years ago, I was gifted a Billingham Hadley Pro shoulder bag. It’s a very well-made waterproof bag that is ideal for use as a walkabout bag for smaller kits. It’s dimensions are fairly small: 15 3/8″W x 6 3/8″ D x 9 3/8″ H. This makes the Hadley Pro an easy bag to put under an airplane seat as a personal item when traveling. I’ve taken this bag to places like Croatia and Scotland, where it was perfect for a small travel kit, like a Nikon Z7 ii and two zoom lenses.
However, I never thought I’d use this bag for transporting a super telephoto zoom. That is, until I tested it with my OM Systems OM-1 camera and Olympus 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 lens, which has an equivalent angle of view to a 200-800mm lens on a 35mm format camera. By removing the lens collar (something I don’t need for hand-held shooting anyway), I was able to easily fit this telephoto zoom into the Hadley Pro bag. The OM-1 with 12-45mm f/4 lens attached fit as well, and I still had yet another empty compartment available to me.
Top view of the Billingham Hadley Pro bag with 100-400mm lens and OM-1 body with 12-45mm f/4 lens attached.
My colleague, Rick Walker, pointed out something else while we were out shooting together. One could theoretically pair the 100-400mm with the outstanding Olympus 12-100mm f/4 zoom and have a two lens kit that covers the entire range from 24-800mm equivalent, in a bag that fits under the seat of an airplane. Mind blown!
Rethinking the trade-offs in sensor size with modern digital cameras
If you follow my YouTube channel or The Image Doctors Podcast, you probably saw that I recently purchased a OM Digital Solutions (formerly Olympus) OM-1 body and an assortment of lenses. This is something I’d been contemplating for quite some time, given that the majority of my photography involves travel and wildlife. The OM-1 is not a perfect camera, but it has some features that make it extremely compelling for photographers who want professional quality in a vastly smaller package. It’s also far less expensive ($2199 USD) than a comparable 35mm format body (think Sony Alpha A1, Nikon Z8/Z9, Canon R5).
Each of these cameras is outstanding. They offer subject-detection based AF systems (including bird and vehicle detection), excellent in-body stabilization (IBIS), and high speed shooting of 20fps or greater for raw images using an electronic shutter and stacked sensor technology. The biggest difference then? Size. The OM-1 is a fairly small (1.3 lb) camera, but the lenses it uses are in some cases downright tiny. That one factor alone is what made me consider the OM System gear for my work.
Photographing sloths, birds, and more at an upscale eco lodge
I’m flying home to Colorado after my third visit to Isla Bastimentos on Panama’s northwest Caribbean coast, and it was a fantastic visit. My journey started out in Panama City, where I checked in to a modern hotel downtown. As a side trip, I took a short Uber ride to the Metropolitan Nature Park in Panama City. I figured it would be an easy place to explore, and where I could check all the settings on my camera gear.
On this trip my primary camera was the Nikon Z9 paired with the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Nikkor Z lens, and the Nikon 1.4x Z teleconverter. This camera and lens combination provides a focal length range from 140-560mm and a maximum aperture of f/8. I was also able to use the Nikon Z9’s DX crop mode, which narrowed the angle of view to effectively 840mm. Because the Nikon Z9 is a mirrorless camera, using DX crop mode magnifies the viewfinder image and improves autofocus accuracy. This comes at the expense of resolution, which drops from 45 to 19 megapixels in DX crop mode.
At the Nature Park, I photographed several bird species, including kingbirds, tanagers, and a squirrel cuckoo. I also encountered red-eared sliders (turtles), basilisk lizards (the fabled “Jesus Christ” lizard), and even a three-toed sloth. Of course, this particular sloth was basically just a ball of fur hunkered down at the top of a tall tree; hardly photogenic (more on this in a moment).
White-faced capuchin monkeyThe Titi monkey is actually a species of tamarin.On the mainland, this is probably the best view of a sloth you’ll get.Squirrel cuckoo
The next day, I greeted my photography clients as they checked in to our downtown hotel. After a brief welcome session, we enjoyed dinner and drinks at the hotel restaurant before retiring for the evening; we had a full day planned for tomorrow and needed to be ready for our morning tour to Monkey Island and the Gamboa Sloth Sanctuary.