Monday, March 28, 2011

Interview with Mike Cavaroc pt. 2

Part 2 with Mike Cavaroc 

Click here to see the part 1 interview

What camera lens combo do you most enjoy using to shoot that subject?
I'll typically have on my Canon 70-300mm lens on my 7D for wildlife since it's lightweight and easy to immediately point out the window should I happen upon anything. However I'm experimenting more with renting lenses these days to get a bit of extra focal length on certain occasions.

As for my 5D, I mostly keep my Canon 17-40mm on that to take advantage of the full frame sensor on the mountains and landscapes.

Why Canon over some of the other competitors?
If anybody asks me what kind of camera they should buy as their first, I'll tell them go look at Canon and Nikon and pick whichever one you can find a better deal on. They're both the top-of-the-line from what I've found in my research and they'll continue to outdo the other. I started with Canon because I found a good deal with them and I've been really happy with them and wouldn't change if I could. I have, however, heard the same thing from Nikon users as well. I know Olympus users who are happy with their cameras and I've read good things about Sony also, but I still think Canon and Nikon are the two top dogs and there's no right or wrong one to choose.

How do you find your subjects, wildlife or landscape?
The landscapes come either from exploring the backcountry when I can (mostly summer and fall), or more challenging, driving along the roads in the winter and finding an angle or composition I haven't done yet. I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, went to school in East Texas, then moved to Phoenix, Arizona, so winter sports were never something I got to do. Though I was able to explore a bit more this winter than I had in the past, I'm planning on taking better advantage in the future through cross-country skiing and/or snowshoeing, two things I don't have much experience with, but I'm definitely wanting to change. Throughout the summer though, there's an endless amount of trails all over the entire region. The tricky thing is being there when there's good light. Sunrises in the summer are especially hard not only because of how many other photographers there are shooting all the big viewpoints, but also because of how short the nights are. If you stay up catching sunset, getting up for sunrise is pretty rough. I find it even harder when you live here because it's so easy to fall into the habit of taking it all for granted.

With wildlife, I'm able to know where some animals are from their yearly habits, I may find them on the trails, or I'll even just happen upon them while driving simply due to the denseness of wildlife in the area. If there's something interesting that's been seen, word spreads around the locals pretty quickly as well. If Grizzly Bear #399, for example, has been spotted after emerging from her den in the spring, the whole town will know within a day. That doesn't always mean it's a guaranteed sighting for you though. For example, if you're told about a wolf pack that was seen a couple of hours ago, odds are that wolf pack has long gone to somewhere else, most likely farther into the woods and away from any kind of access. The best way to find it is to just get out and enjoy the day. I've driven around for hours sometimes only to come up with a couple of decent landscapes. But then I've also just driven around for about 30 minutes choosing to take the scenic route home and stumbled across one animal after another keeping me occupied for the remainder of the day. The point being, you can't really plan to see wildlife, it does it's own thing. Your best strategy is just to go out and enjoy the scenery and if you're lucky, you might just find something that brings the day to a climax.

Do you have any upcoming plans or projects?
I currently don't have any big plans or projects that I'm working on, but on a more personal level, I've been shooting a lot of video lately which has become another one of those little milestones that reignited my passion for having a camera. Currently I'm trying to capture as much footage as I can of wildlife existing in its natural habitat, as well as time-lapse videos of area.

We follow many photographers and their blog/websites. Are there photographers that you follow that our audience should be aware of?
I could probably throw out too many to list, but there are several whose work I'm always looking out for. Hopefully they're not redundant recommendations.

Every time I see a photo from Patrick J. Endres, I get a strong yearning to just spend a few months exploring Alaska. He scours the state and does a beautiful job of detailing every bit of it.

Burrard-Lucas Photography is simply wildlife photography with an exclamation point. Very inspiring work.

Ian Plant just has a masterful way of capturing a scene.

Jesse Speer is a great artist who's able to see a unique simplicity in both grand landscapes and tiny details.

Finally, Ron Niebrugge is a very fun photographer to follow. He can capture beauty in any scene and following him on his road trips motivates me to get out more.

Any additional thoughts or comments?
If you visit Grand Teton National Park, or anywhere for that matter, please respect the land and its inhabitants. We see one photographer after another, especially in this region, getting way too close to wildlife. I've seen photographers with 500mm lenses standing literally 10 feet from a bear. If you're not afraid of it, that's great. More power to you. But if that bear decides that you're too close, it will let you know and the park service will have no choice but to put the bear down, ruining it for everyone. I've seen crowds of people block wildlife from crossing a road where it wants to cross. I've seen people go chase after animals into the trees. All of these factor to the animals being more likely retreat farther into the wilderness, ruining the experience of seeing wildlife for everyone.

I only ask that people think about the wildlife before coming to a place like this and if one irresponsible person is pushing their luck and showing no concern for consequences to them or the animals, it's not an open invite to join them. National parks and wilderness areas that are home to exciting wildlife aren't there so we can get as close as we want to the animals, they're there to protect them and to preserve the natural environment as much as possible, and that includes human interaction.

Be sure to check out Mike's incredible work at

A big thanks goes to Mike to take his time to help us at Natural Vision Photography!!

Click Here for Part 1