Lens dilemma


As a photographer it’s always good to bring a wide variety of lenses. The lens you don’t take with you is the one you’ll miss is often heard. However, some moments you have to make a decision about what lens to use and for some reason stick to that decision.
When approaching a group of Walruses hauling out on land, I always try to be near the shore. Walruses on land are quite boring. Just a big heap of smelly meat that often doesn’t do a lot. In the water however they can be quite active. And curious… When you kick around some stones they often come closer to check out the sound. How close they come differs. Sometimes they stay at 10 meters and sometimes they come a lot closer. This causes the problem with the lenses. When they’re really close, maybe a few meters, it’s nice to use a wide-angle lens, to capture the animals in their environment. However, often they don’t come that close and then you’re stick with a ‘useless’ lens. And you can’t go back to change your lens as that will scare the Walruses. So I often choose my 70-200mm with 2x converter to make some close-ups. Today I wished I had used the wide-angle. They really came close, really close, to great surprise of all our guests on shore. I quickly sat down on the beach, to be less frightening for the Walruses, to be not on the way for the guests behind me and to get a nice low angle for my own pictures. It was a long time ago I had them this close, which was great for the guests of course. I could make really nice portraits, but also wondered how it would have been with a wide-angle, to be able to use the pack ice and fog in the background in the image…

Next time I’ll try the wide-angle again, but I’m sure they’ll stay away much further that time…

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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