My name is Varina Patel, and I am a wilderness photographer, educator, author, and blogger. My photographs have become increasingly minimalist over the years. The simplest and most subtle of my images are a reflection of the sense of peace I feel in the wilderness. I love all kinds of photography, including macro, portraiture, and both studio and outdoor photography. I have taught workshops in National Parks all across the US, and have collaborated with Jay Patel to write a series of eBooks for photographers.
Right now, I’m have a Canon EOS 5D Mk III and a Canon EOS 7D. The 5D Mk III has a full frame sensor, and excellent low-light capabilities. The 7D is perfect for times when I need a little extra reach with a long lens – or when I want to get very close to a subject when I’m shooting wide. With a wide-angle Canon EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-f4.5 lens, the crop factor sensor lets me capture objects just a few inches away in perfect focus, while also keeping distant objects nice and sharp.
Before I take a shot, I almost always have a pretty clear idea of what I want to create – so I choose the camera and lens combination that will give me the results I want. I love my Canon EF 180mm f4 L macro lens for detail photography, and my incredibly sharp Canon EF 135mm f2 L prime for low-light, candid portraits. My Canon EF 70-200 f4 L is perfect for capturing wildlife – and I can extend its reach by using it with my Canon EOS 7D and a 1.4x extender.
I also use a Canon EF 17-40mm f4 L for wide-angle photography with my full frame camera, and a Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8 L as a multipurpose lens.
Of course, I don’t have enough space in my bag to carry all this gear on my own. Jay Patel and I share lenses, and we each carry 3 when we are on location.
I use a Gitzo G1157 Tripod with an Acratech Ultimate V2 Ballhead. My tripod is nearly seven years old now, and it’s had some adventures! I also carry a B&W Multicoated Circular Polarizer, three HiTech Graduated Neutral Density Filters, and a HiTech Neutral Density filter. I carry my gear in my Loka bag from fstop… it’s the best bag I’ve ever owned.
I use a PC laptop from Dell. It travels with me when I teach or speak, and I often bring along my projector as well. At home, I connect my laptop to an Apple monitor, which is nice and large and renders colors beautifully. I’ve been using a Wacom Intuos tablet for more than ten years, and I do all my post processing with that hardware combo. I also use a Drobo external storage device for handling backups and archives.
I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop since 1994, and I use Bridge and Camera RAW as well. I also like Silver Efex Pro from Nik Software for converting images to black and white.
In terms of camera equipment, I’m pretty happy with my setup. It would be neat to have the best cameras and lenses… but what I’d really like is the freedom to travel more often, and stay on location for longer periods of time. I’d like to be able to spend 3 months or more in a given location so that I could explore the area and capture changing weather conditions and light. It would be incredible to be able to stay in one place until I was ready to move on – rather than taking short trips and feeling pressed for time.