Jacqueline Deely

Based in Monterey, California, I am a professional wildlife photographer, certified California naturalist and member of the North American Nature Photography Association.

Passionate about the environment, I use my work to showcase the beauty of the natural world and draw attention to conservation issues.

This theme is carried throughout my workshops and lectures, with an emphasis on how photography can connect us with nature, teach us about the environment and serve as a conservation tool.

Although my main interest lies in photography along the California coast, I love to roam the globe in search of nature’s wonders. I particularly enjoy annual visits to the polar regions as an instructor and lecturer on expedition tours.

The gear I use has to stand up to the elements and provide me with a large enough focal range to cover a multitude of photographic situations, from landscapes to penguins to polar bears and everything else in between!

I also need to be mobile enough to climb in and out of zodiacs from ship to shore and vice versa, in addition to traversing a variety of at times difficult terrains. Therefore traveling light is of vital importance and it has taken me quite some time to figure out what works best for my specific needs.

Here are the camera bodies and lenses I usually bring on these tours:

Nikon D500 + MB-D17 Battery Grip
Nikon D750 + MB-D16 Battery Grip
NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4
NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4
NIKKOR 300mm f/4
NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6
Nikon Teleconverter TC-14E II

I never bring a tripod as I have found it cumbersome and I don’t use it enough to justify the added weight in my luggage. For those times I need a little more stability, I bring a Monostat RS16K Carbon Fiber monopod with a Really Right Stuff Pro Monopod Head. The monopod is lightweight, very sturdy and easy to pack. Although no longer on the market, there are plenty of similar options out there.

I generally carry the two bodies using the BlackRapid Breathe Double Harness which I absolutely love. It has turned out to be the best way for me to work with two lenses at one time and I can switch back and forth very quickly as needed, particular with wildlife when quick reflexes and timing is of the essence.

I pack my gear for travel in a ThinkTank Streetwalker Rolling Camera Bag. It fits in most airline overhead bins as long as I remove my laptop from the front pocket. Once at my destination, I use a Lowepro Flipside 400 AWII Backpack. It holds the majority of my gear for shore excursions and has a really roomy front pocket for accessories. The pack opens from the body side allowing access without putting the bag down. This comes in really handy when in mucky, guano covered penguin colonies!

For downloading my images in the field, I use a MacBook Pro with a 2 Terabyte external hard drive. Images are processed using Lightroom CC and Adobe Photoshop CC.

Closer to home I tend to favor my 500mm prime lens, particularly for bird photography. I use it with either my D3s or D500 camera bodies, Really Stuff TV-34L tripod, Mongoose M-3.6 Gimbal head and Long Lens Support Package from Really Right Stuff. Long lenses need stability and good technique, as any slight movement or vibration is magnified and will result in soft or blurry images.

If however, I need to hike or trek a long distance, I will once again go with the lighter, more versatile option. The Nikon D500 and NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6 is a fantastic combination and I highly recommend for anyone who wants to try their hand at bird or wildlife photography before investing in an expensive prime lens.

Here is the additional camera equipment and accessories I use when closer to home:

Nikon D3s
NIKKOR 500mm f/4
NIKKOR 300mm f/4

Really Right Stuff TVC-34L Carbon Fiber Tripod
Gitzo GT2530 Carbon Fiber Tripod
Mongoose M-3.6 Gimbal Tripod Head w/Integrated Low Mount Arm
Really Right Stuff BH-40 Ball Head
Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head
RRS Long Lens Support Package

Nikon SB-800 Speed Light
Nikon MC-30 Remote Cord
Wimberly F-1 Telephoto Combo Flash Bracket
Better Beamer Flash Extender

NatureScapes Skimmer Ground Pod
NatureScapes Skimmer Sack Beanbag

Nikon Polarizing Filters
Tiffen Variable ND Filter
Lee Filter Holder System with a selection of GND Filters

Guragear Batalae 32L Backpack

www.jacquelinedeely.com | @jacquelinedeelyphotography


  1. Jacqueline Deely on August 24, 2019 at 9:37 am

    I am thrilled to be one of the female photographers featured here on Shotkit. If anyone has any questions, I will gladly answer them!

    • Sam on June 27, 2020 at 9:47 am

      Hi Jacqueline,
      I have a d750 as well and am looking at getting a 200-500mm lens so I can do more bird and wildlife photography, at the moment I use a 70-200 f4 but I want longer reach. Getting sharp, in-focus action shots is a struggle for me. Any tips or advice you can offer?

      • Jacqueline Deely on December 15, 2020 at 5:46 am

        Hello Sam, sorry for the delayed response. Getting sharp images of birds in flight requires high shutter speeds. I recommend at least 1/1000s, although it depends on the type of bird you are shooting. An erratic, fast moving Hummingbird for instance may need 1/3200s or higher, whereas a slower moving crane or egret can be shot at slower speeds such as 1/500s. Light is also a big factor as your autofocus system will have a harder time locking focus in poor light. Autofocus settings also impact where your camera locks on to. You don’t want a sharp wing for instance and an out of focus head. This requires lots of practice on your part and trying different settings. I tend to go with a fewer active focus points and attempting to focus on the head. Again, lots and lots of practice as technique seems to be the main cause of unwanted blurry or out of focus shots.
        The distance you are from your subjects is another thing to consider, so if you are attempting to capture birds way, way off in the distance with the lens you currently have, that may be a contributing factor. Trying to focus on something small in the view finder is tricky. Bird photography in my mind is one of the most difficult and after many years of shooting, I still find it a challenge and I continue to learn from my mistakes. Know and understand your camera so you can make quick adjustments within removing your eye from the viewfinder. Practice by trying to change settings in the dark. It really can help when out in the field! As for the 200-500mm lens, I am very happy with it. No, it is not as sharp as my 500mm prime, but is offers a great focal range for a variety of situations. I take it pretty much everywhere with me these days. I hope this has helped and I would love to know what you ended up doing! Jacqueline Deely

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