...Bora Bora...Hold the horses... British Virgin Islands - Seeking advice.

TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
edited October 2013 in General Discussions
Heading to Bora Bora for a family vacation at the end of the year for a couple of weeks and I have no clue what to see (if someone has been that would be great to hear what to go do) or what gear will be best to take. I actually do have a decent idea what I'm going to take but living in the midwest, experience in shooting at the beach is, well non existent. Any useful random items suggestions would be great.

Minimum will be:
D800, 16-28, 70-200, 60mm, 105vr, 50mm, 1.7x TC, SB600, Lowepro - DryZone Rover.
Need to pick up:
ND (vari ND, big square for the 16-28), some other camera for beach stuff.

Update: Plans changed - Now going to British Virgin Islands
See Post below
Post edited by TaoTeJared on
D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...


  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    Heading to Bora Bora
    Its a tough life :)

  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    edited October 2013
    I was in French Polynesia on a press tour a few years ago, but, since the tour was guided/hosted by Sheraton marketing/PR people, I had no idea exactly where we were at any given moment, other than the fact that we were in the general area of their various resort properties (Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora). The coolest thing I remember was swimming with the sharks (apparently quite the tourist attraction, though I saw no other tourists there). We were taken on a private boat somewhere off-shore of Moorea or Bora Bora (I can't remember which), and literally swam with a few dozen 4'-5' sharks. Literally takes your breath away.

    Also, since the snorkeling is excellent there, I, personally, would plan on doing a lot of that. I would also recommend either an underwater point-and-shoot (e.g., Olympus TG2), or a dedicated, hard-shell underwater housing (generally more robust) for something like a Sony NEX3. Note that the lower-cost Nikon underwater models leak--reported in various online forums, and I also know this from personal experience--mine leaked in every part of the camera within about five seconds.

    If you're willing to trust your D800 to a plastic bag, the Ewa-Marine housing can be had for $359. I've used them several times before, and just used my own D800E with an Ewa-Marine U-B100 this summer in Kauai without incident. I had originally planned to take my widest lens, the Sigma 12-24mm, but the 16-35mm was about all the Ewa housing could manage without severe vignetting.
    Post edited by studio460 on
  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    Note that I actually didn't shoot much underwater footage with the housing in Kauai--I mainly bought it to be able to safely shoot very close to the waterline:

  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    What to take:

    I've been continuously reviewing my gear inventory on each successive trip. I basically pack anything I think I might want, but only take, at most, two lenses out on any given day. On days I used my underwater housing, I only took the 16-35mm. On hikes, I only took the 16-35mm, and the 70-300mm VR. Basically, I mainly shoot two types of shots on vacation: 1.) ultra-wides, and 2.) compression shots. On a previous trip, I also brought an AF-S 60mm Micro-Nikkor, but ended up never using it.

    For the plane, hotel, and other available-light, and flash-fired photography, I take one fast prime for the occasional "documentary" shot. I also take a small Speedlight, a bounce card, and either an SU-800, PocketWizard, or long TTL cable. In my case, my "hotel kit" now consists of an SB-600, SU-800, 5" x 7" PortaBrace white balance card (for handheld bounce), and the Sigma 35mm f/1.4.

    Again, I only took one or two lenses out at a time, and no camera bag. My D800E with the 16-35mm mounted was slung, bandolier-style, over my shoulder (hanging at my waist), with both ends of the strap connected to only the left camera lug. The 70-300mm sat in a ThinkTank Skin50 lens pouch on a Lindcraft nylon grip belt.

    Here's my shot percentage by lens:

    1. AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4.0G VR = 90%
    2. AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR = 5%
    3. Sigma 35mm f/1.4 = 5%

    I also bring a three-section, carbon-fiber tripod (2.5 lbs.), and a lightweight ball head (0.8 lbs.) for self-portraits, and the occasional long-exposure. I didn't bother to buy/bring multi-stop NDs, but I think next time, I will.
  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    edited October 2013
    Long zooms:

    Note that I left both my ultra-heavy 70-200mm VR I, and also heavy, 80-400mm VR I at home. I bought the lighter AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR II especially for this trip instead (which I managed to snag a like-new refurb for only $349!). You may also want to consider the non-VR, AF Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6D ED (which I bought years ago, and still own) as an ultra-lightweight alternative--it only weighs 1 lb. 2 oz., and is stunningly sharp (the only problem is that the front-element rotates while auto-focusing--at bit awkward while hand-holding at times).
    Post edited by studio460 on
  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    @ TTJ, I've never been to Bora Bora but living on the East coast of South Florida I'm always at the beach with my gear. My wife's from Trinidad & Tobago so I've been there a few times as well. I always find my estimated stats similar to what Studio460 stated above. Mostly wide shots to capture the beauty and environment. I no longer have the 70-300mm but the last time we went to Trinidad that lens mostly stayed at home. It became a hassle to mount it for 1 or 2 shots, then take it off for the rest. I'm just thinking as I type here but I'm guessing you might be best served with your 16-28mm and the 60mm. In a pinch 1.5x 60mm gets you 90mm with the D800.

    I'm a big fan of those smooth water long exposure images so I always take my 10stop ND filter on locations like this and a lightweight CF tripod. Include shutter release cable of course. I tend to keep a slim paint brush in my bag for brushing off sand from tripod legs, bags, and camera/lenses. Other stuff which you probably already have include a small roll of gaffer tape and large Zeiss lens cloths (Wal-Mart optical department; cheap). I'll gaff tape a lens cloth (or chamois cloth) such that I can cover the uncapped lens if surf spray is blowing - simply moving it over long enough to capture the image, then covering the lens again afterwards.

    With all that blue sky and emerald water I'd take a Circ.Pol filter as well. Those are just a few thoughts. I do like Studio's process though.
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • proudgeekproudgeek Posts: 1,422Member
    Going to Costa Rica with a company affiliated with Nat Geo this December. In preparation, I spoke one of the staff photographers and we talked through my gear list. It's a different trip than Bora Bora, but there's a lot of beach and a lot rainforest hiking involved with both, so there are some similarities. Here's what I'm bringing.

    D90 (unless a D400 magically shows up between now and then)

    300 f/2.8
    17-35 (I chose this over for the wide end over the 24-70 because it's wider (duh) and because it's non-extendable, which will hopefully help with dust)
    TC 1.4x (at his recommendation)
    He also recommended lens covers. It's the rainforest so expect rain.

    1 CPL
    1 10-stop ND (leaving my ND grads at home because I cheaped out and bought the Cokins which produce too much glare)
    I remember you saying once that you (TTJ) use an Expodisk. White balance on those super white beaches can be a tricky thing. If you have the space, I'd pack it so you can shoot with a custom white balance.

    1 3-section CF tripod
    Remote shutter trigger
    1 backup drive (no computer)

    1 bottle of Advil for my back

    Have a blast!
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    My father just retired and he and my mother are starting to work on their "bucket" list. Last family vacation we took was in 1989 so we might be a bit overdue. ;) It was this or Italy but my parents did not like that idea of traveling in winter (cool) weather so warm we are going. I would have prefered Italy but they are footing the bill so I have no complaints and am along for the ride as I know it is not a bad one, and am lucky to have the opportunity.

    I am willing to kill myself for the images. We will have a villa that we will stay in the whole time, it is warm so light-weight clothes, so only depending on travel bag restrictions I should be able to take what I want even if I don't use it.

    I do have the 70-300vr and was thinking of that VS the 70-200 but the latter is just so much better and this will be a once in a lifetime thing. @studio460 - thanks for your image breakdown! I shoot similar for desiring wide or compression/isolation. Bob Krist (Nikon pro) went there a few years back and I have been looking at his images. There doesn't seem to be much more than just beach/landscape shots. Most images I have seen do not have much or any unique wildlife or community/culture shots. (Note my travels have taken me to europe and Maya ruins so that is my base when I say culture.)

    The real hard (and expensive) is to finally get some proper filters for my 16-26. I have been toying with the idea of selling that and getting the 16-35 (for VR and Filters) just in general as well. That will be a hard one. The filters for the 16-28 could easily equal 3/4s the cost of the 16-35 alone. Love that lens, but the accessories are painful. Linear polarizer maybe? Have to be honest I have never actually used a square one before.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,387Member
    edited October 2013
    Here are 3 "model type" photos I shot at the beach last year with my D800 and 28-70 f2.8 lens (check EXIF data on Flicker):




    Here are three "family type" photos I shot this year with my D7000 and 18-200 f3.5-5.6 lens (just don't need the D800 resolution for photos which won't be printed larger than 8x10 so I opted for a lighter weight):




    I found the beach contained:

    1. A lot of sun reflected off the sand causing you to close your aperture about one stop down from where it would be in normal bright sun. This also means no need for fast lenses since you will easily be shooting in the range of f8-f11 and 1/500sec shutter speed or f11-f16 and 1/250th shutter speed at base ISO 100. In order to get to f2.8 I had to shoot at 1/6000th to 1/8000th of a second. I don't think you need an f2.8 lens. The 70-200 f2.8 could be replaced by the much cheaper and lighter 70-200 f4 lens. The difference between f2.8 and f4 won't be significant.

    2. Contrast is also very high because you have so much bright sun relative to shadows (which reflection from sand doesn't always fill). When shooting JPEGS you many want to consider entering your Picture Controls custom setting and drop one step of contrast from whatever you use now. Also, consider using Active D-lighting if you don't now.

    3. A lot of sand, and even more salt spray, in the air even when you are standing on the sand some distance from the breaking waves. I use Nikon NC filters on lenses to protect the front element and keep a lens cap over the filter and the camera in a bag when not taking a photo. Still, I have to clean that front NC filter many times a day and give it a good cleaning every night. I appreciated the super zooms ability to let me stay out of the water and still shoot waves breaking over kids like this image.


    4. Avoid lens changes in the beach environment because there is always a breeze carrying dust and moisture. Thus, I tend to use a multi=purpose zoom to avoid any lens changes. Since you easily can be shooting in between f5.6 and f16 (see No. 1 above) a super zoom will be sharp enough.

    5. If you are just chasing kids around the beach consider using a lighter weight super zoom outfit rather than hauling the D800 up and down the beach and into the waves. Your D300 (if you still have it or a D90, D7000 or D7100 with 18-200 or 18-300 zoom) will be fine for "family style" photos taken at base ISO and not going to be enlarged more than the largest size a normal inkjet printer can print.

    I hope your family has a great time. Post some images on PAD (or this thread) when you get back.

    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    @TaoTeJared: Have fun in Bora Bora. Looking forward in seeing some of the shots you take.

    As far as gear goes, do what I do: take it all. :P
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,387Member
    I was wondering if you could take some exotic background shots for use as portrait backgrounds when you get home? Might be an idea. You may want to even take some deliberately out of focus images to simulate having shot the portrait there at f2.8 or f4 or f.5.6.
  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    No problem, Tao--these once (or few) in a lifetime trips are worth taking the time to carefully consider your gear choices.

    Lots of good information here--I especially like the tip about the Zeiss lens cloths. I brought two microfiber cloths, plus a $5.99 Nikon microfiber cloth (which is sewn into a little storage bag) that I clipped to the camera lug. I also had a small pump-spray bottle of lens fluid (faster than the screw-off cap on Rosco lens fluid bottles), and two packs of Rosco lens tissue. Every night at the hotel I wiped everything down with a microfiber cloth.

    While we were lucky in that we experienced no rain, I did bring along a pack of 25 disposable shower caps for shooting in sand or rain, but ended up never having to use them.

    And, yes, to better summarize my recommendations: pack everything you think you might want to have, but take only what you need for each day's outing. Nothing worse than wishing you had brought a certain piece of gear, and didn't. Here's two things I brought last time which I think are really handy:

    1. Hoodman 3x Hoodloupe (or similar): allows you to check exposure on your rear LCD in bright sunlight. I wore this around my neck anytime I had my camera with me, using the included lanyard (unfortunately, it doesn't work well if submerged, and gets kind of destroyed for some reason).

    2. Pocket-sized WhiBal G7 white-balance target, and retractable spring-clip. I had this clipped to my upper CamelBak strap--I was able to shoot a test image in just a few moments. A bit pricey, but I think, worth it.
  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    NIce pics, Donald! Yes, I also wanted to mention that my lens choices were also made in consideration for minimal lens changes, as Donald mentioned. On a prior trip, I performed more lens changes, and ended up with a lot of debris on the sensor, mid-trip. This time, I swapped the 16-35mm and 70-300mm only sparingly, and when I did, I did it far from any ocean spray, very quickly, with the body pointed down.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    As far as gear goes, do what I do: take it all. :P
    Just looked at flight bag requirements and weight - I may be limited to 20lbs. This may get hard quickly.
    I was wondering if you could take some exotic background shots for use as portrait backgrounds when you get home? Might be an idea. You may want to even take some deliberately out of focus images to simulate having shot the portrait there at f2.8 or f4 or f.5.6.
    That is something I have been really thinking about and even looking at getting a giga-pan head to make some huge stock images.

    I'm making my list and already blasted past my budget by $5,000 so far - I'm sure I can add 3 or 4 more grand on my wish list. ;)

    Thanks for the help all - Shower cap would not have thought of that one - probably better than zip-lock for over spray.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • proudgeekproudgeek Posts: 1,422Member
    Something I often do before going to a new place is to do a search on Flickr to see what people are shooting in that place, and what types of equipment they're using to get those results. It doesn't take long to see the stuff that's really good. It's not scientific but it's a good start. As an aside, I was stunned by the lack of bird images from Bora Bora.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,387Member
    edited October 2013
    + 1 on the hoodman loupe. Terribly hard to see the LCD in bright sun when there is no shade nearby.

    Example of use of exotic shots for background. TTJ, hope you have models like these!

    http://www.jimmaxwellphotography.com/ ***** NSFW --- Some nude images ******
    look at his Digital and Beyond images

    Flight bag weight limits: they don't weigh you do they? So wear a photographers jacket or vest with huge pockets and stuff them will all the heavy things to lighten your bag. Then put the jacket on the overhead or under the seat.
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
  • CitizenDCitizenD Posts: 29Member
    edited October 2013

    I had the chance to live in french polynesia for 2 years when I was much younger and spent a few days there.
    No actual advice to give on gear to bring there, but here is a few mixed intel on the place :
    - islands in french polynesia are mostly oriented towards sea activities. no big trekking on the mountains, and from the last intel I have, this has not changed very much since I was there
    - prefer renting a car for 1 day instead of taking the official bus tour ; you'll get much more confort and autonomy and will be able to spend as much time as you want shooting, instead of having to follow the toursit group in the bus (stops are usually very short ....) The island is quite small, and 1 day is perfectly sufficient to make a full end to end roadtrip around it
    - the absolute must do : the pirogue (sort of polynesian dugout) roundtrip organized by the hotel ; your gear might get some water splashes, so take care (anticipate some protection). the tour usually includes meal on a motu (tiny island on the coral reef) ; make sure it is included ; it also included shark (gentle ones ;)) feeding ; and giant mussel tasting ; waterproof tank usefull if you can afford one (or the new Nikon 1 AW1 !)
    - scuba diving of course, etc
    - as for the landscape : I believe this is the only place on earth where what you'll see in the real life will be exactly the same as what you can see on postcards - no kidding here ; check a few pictures to get to know the landscape and type of pictures you'll be able to take and adapt your gear
    - there is much much sun and reflections ; light can be very harsh --> some filters might be very useful here ; I have very little experience with them, but I guess many will be able to comment on such items here
    - a tripod for sunsets (?)

    if you can spend a few day in tahiti :
    - same as for borabora : rent a car and do the 1 day roadtrip around the island
    - get to the official market, early in the morning
    - get some lunch in the evening on the harbour docks
    - go and get a bath to dark sand beaches, on the east cost (papara for instance, also called "pointe venus")

    hope this helps !
    Post edited by CitizenD on
  • GarethGareth Posts: 159Member
    I went to Tahiti when I was a kid. I remember a few things;

    Picking up coconuts off the beach and taking them to some local guys to hack open with a big machete.

    Sand, sun and snorkling. There are some remote islands that have absolutely no one on and these were the best.

    The food is good, but expensive.

    Boobies. I saw so many topless women I actually became blase about it. But I was just a kid and I wasn't waving a big camera around. This might be something to keep in mind and not upset anyone.
  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    Oh, yes! French Polynesia is not cheap! I bought cigarettes, a Coke, and a magazine (air-mailed in), and it cost like $36 at the hotel. Luckily everything else was comp'd. But this is the most expensive place I've ever traveled to.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,387Member
    Considering the geography and location it looks like about everything, other than fish, has to be imported which must double the cost of everything.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    The lack of light pollution in the middle of the pacific is stunning. Think of the most stars you have ever seen and add about a million more. You might want to consider a small tripod or gorilla-pod for the nighttime shots, fire dancing, or anything else that might have a longer exposure.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,387Member
    You might want to consider adding the ability to do some underwater photography of fish.
  • Benji2505Benji2505 Posts: 522Member
    The EWA-Marine bag is a good idea and the lint-free cloth suggestion is good as well. I was in Kauai early thi year and only shot 14-24-70mm. Never used long glass, so the question is what you are going to do with it since it is heavy to carry. Bring a tripod for sunrise and sunset. Lots of bright light, so you are into some postprocessing afterwards.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    edited October 2013
    Thanks for the info everyone! The little accessories is very helpful! Like I said, I'm never near coastlines or the ocean so those accessories have never been on my radar to keep track of. All of the suggestions are great!

    With some reluctance, I think I have settled on getting the Nikon1 AW 1 for a underwater/beach/take everywhere camera for when I don't want to lug everything. Nikon did something right with releasing this one - it will nab people like me. If anyone has seen or have a really impressive Compact waterproof cam I would love to hear about it!

    Post edited by TaoTeJared on
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,181Member
    I have been researching this for a long time.. before the AW1 i would have gone with the new Olympus tough TG-2
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

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