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What’s In My Bag: Conservation Photographer Melissa Groo’s Gear For Ethical Wildlife Photography

When wildlife and conservation photographer Melissa Groo (@melissagroo) is out in the field, her main goal is to not affect the wildlife’s behavior to get a shot. To capture successful and ethical wildlife images, she relies on the sharpness and reach she gets from a select set of Sony gear. Watch the video below as Groo goes through each piece of gear in her bag, explaining which she reaches for in a variety of situations while shooting in the field.

To capture successful and ethical wildlife images, wildlife and conservation photographer Melissa Groo relies on the sharpness and reach she gets from this select set of Sony gear.

Camera

Sony Alpha 1: I love having the 50.1 megapixels of the Alpha 1 because then I can crop quite a bit. So with the reach of the 600mm plus the 1.4X or the 2X, it’s really getting me in close there and that’s so essential for a wildlife photographer.

Lenses

Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G: This is my preferred lens for some particular conditions, and really those are for birds in flight. This paired with the Sony Alpha 1 is pretty much an unbeatable rig.

Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master II: This is the one that just recently came out that’s just incredibly light and tack sharp. The 70-200 is great for mammals, such as if I’m in Yellowstone this might be a good go-to for a bear or a bighorn sheep. 

Sony 600mm f/4 G Master: I love having this whole array of lenses at my disposal because there are different situations that call for different lengths. So between the Sony 70-200 and the Sony 200-600 and the Sony 600mm, all my bases are covered. So I just feel really well-equipped for any situation that might arise.

Accessories

Sony 1.4X Teleconverter & Sony 2X Teleconverter: I also do carry at all times my two teleconverters because I just love to be at a good distance from wildlife. I just find that it results in the wildlife being more comfortable.

Mindshift BackLight 36L: It’s capable of carrying pretty much everything that I need.

Tarp: I often find that I need to get low and many places that I go are very muddy and dirty. I always get pretty filthy, which I don’t really have a problem with, but this also helps protect my gear. So this is a quick dry tarp that just dries super fast, packs up super small and is one of those things I’m kind of never without.

Allen Wrenches: You have to have these just in case you ever need them.

Granola Bar: I can withstand a lot of discomfort when I’m out in the field, but the one thing I can’t stand is really being super hungry. 

Paintbrush: This is just a simple little paint brush I got at a hardware store because I find that I shoot in a lot of dirt-filled and sand-filled environments and it’s super useful for just very quickly wiping the sand or what have you off my gear.

Shower Cap: This is great in a pinch if suddenly it starts raining and you weren’t expecting it. Basically what I do is just put it over the body of the camera and it’s good to go. I have better rain protection gear at home but this is just so easy to throw into my bag and have at the ready.

Lens Cleaners/Extra Lens Caps/Baggies: For whatever purpose.

Gloves & Other Attire: What I like to do often is I’ll actually put on these little icebreaker wool liners that I have so when I’m fidgeting with the camera or the lens my hands aren’t as apparent. They’re not as likely to spook the creature. It’s often why I wear these buff neck things because I pull it up so only my eyes are visible and it breaks the outline of the face. Then your eyes are glued to that viewfinder so they can’t really see your eyes. So I think that can be really helpful. And I’m often dressed in natural earthy colors. I’d never wear white for instance.

See more of Melissa Groo's work on Instagram @melissagroo.

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