Hi!!! My name is Jose Luis Ruiz and I live in El Puerto de Santa María (Cádiz), a coastal town in southern Spain.
About five years ago, a co-worker told me that he had seen from the road, in a small lagoon, where there were some ducks and that he wanted me to go with him to take pictures of them.
I told him that he had neither the equipment nor a hiding place, but he convinced me to make a small hiding place with tubes and a camouflage cloth. And there we went with my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 and a duplicator. That experience!!
I repeated it for a few weeks but the body asked for more. More quality, more approach… more!!! And I could not stop… A month later, I had already bought a Nikon 400mm f/2.8, a few months later I bought another camera, hides, another multiplier, IR barrier, flashes… A non-stop.
After a few years, I discovered the possibility of taking pictures from the water hidden with the camera on a floating surface. The approach that is achieved is really surprising.
The camera that I normally use to take nature photos is the Nikon D4s. I chose it because, within Nikon, it was the camera with the highest shooting speed, at that time, due to the focus precision and its behavior at high ISOS.
As a second body, I have the Nikon D800E. Its files have a high cropping capacity since they have a lot of information and can be used in DX / APSC mode. I also use it in cases where I can use it with a remote control.
The lens that I mainly use for wildlife photography is the Nikon 600mm f/4. I use this lens when I want to fill in the frame or when I want to get detail of the animal I am photographing. Also to isolate the subject of the photo given the great blur it provides. Its sharpness is brutal.
I also have a Nikon 300mm f/4 that I bought for its small weight and size. It is very useful when you want to compose with the animal and show the medium where the action takes place.
I use the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, like the Nikon 300mm f/4, to show the environment, in addition to the subject (I also use it for high speed), and the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 for composing when I can get close enough to the animal, or when I can shoot remotely.
Depending on the effect you want to achieve or space I have available, I will choose one or the other.
Other accessories that I use with the lenses are the multipliers. I have the Nikkor 1.4x II and the Nikon 2x II that together with the Nikon 600mm f/4 work very well, giving great results.
I also use flash to take pictures of animals. As the main flash, I use the Nikon SB-910 for its recharge and power capabilities.
I also have two units of the Godox TT600 that I buy for their price, for having the integrated trigger, so I do not need any additional device for its operation, and for the possibility of combining them with the Nikon SB-910 to perform high speed. They are flashes that work very well for the price they have.
To transport my equipment I usually use two bags. The Lowepro 400 AW, for its storage capacity and the quality of its construction, and the Lowepro Lens Trekker 600 AW IIIwhen I am only going to use the Nikon 600mm f/4.
As a tripod, I use the Leofoto LS-284C-LH-30. I previously had an aluminum tripod but decided to go for something that was less heavy and look for a carbon tripod that would meet my expectations at a moderate price. The quality of its components and the low weight of these made me opt for this combo.
I also use various types of hide to hide from the species I photograph (tumbinghide, floatinghide, chairhide, camouflage fabrics, etc.)
When I started taking photos, I never got the results I wanted, but I didn’t stop and I continued taking photos and training. Over time I realized that the results began to improve and that the early rises and long waits began to compensate.
I advise people who start with photography to read, study, and try. It is essential to try, try, and try again, and once you start to get the results you want, think again about what you can improve (points of view, ambiances). And try again… It is a cycle that does not end.