It was -4F (-20C) at sunrise photographing Bald EaglesIt was -4F (-20C) at sunrise photographing Bald EaglesGet my free Darkroom & Fine Art Newsletter and never miss another article again. Many people may not know that I have been a long-time wildlife photographer because most of what I share is about film/darkroom and large format photography.  

I made a conscious decision to pursue more wildlife photography moving forward because it is something that I deeply enjoy doing.  I am a Certified Master Naturalist and an avid hiker.  I live in the Ozark Mountains surrounded by the Mark Twain National Forest because I deeply enjoy nature and wildlife.  I start my day by hiking 5 to 7 miles at sunrise, and on some days, I ride my mountain bike as an alternative.

Wildlife photography has been my way of also keeping in shape and maintaining a healthy weight.  By hiking almost every day along with eating real food (i.e., farm fresh vegetables, fish, nuts, fruits, etc.), I am able to get to the places that I love in the mountains.  

Since I get a lot of questions about the gear I use, I decided to create this page for you. 

One of the things that I love about wildlife photography is the skill required to get close to the animals.  Besides the required photography-centric skills, you need to be knowledgeable about the animals that you enjoy photographing.  The "keeper rate" for most wildlife photographers is very low, and this is normal.  

Black Bear Cub - Smoky MountainsBlack Bear Cub - Smoky Mountains I have hundreds of photos in my mind that I am hoping to have the opportunity to create one day.  I may go out and expose two hundred images and only be happy with one or two.  When that special moment happens and I am engaged with my subject, my heart starts pumping and it makes all of the training and effort worth it.  I feel a connection to the wildlife that I photograph and I have many wonderful experiences that cannot be described with words.  

I also love creating my large format landscape photographs for different reasons (slow, methodical, peaceful, superb image quality, artisan process), and so on.  Both genres fill something special for me and I equally enjoy both of them for different reasons.  

I sort of think of wildlife photography as my extreme sport because I travel to places that I wouldn't otherwise, and do things that I probably shouldn't sometimes to get that special photograph.  

I will share the camera gear that I use and why along with some other items that you might not think about if you aren't an avid wildlife photographer.  If you have any questions, you can always email me and I am happy to help you if I can.

Be sure to join my Newsletter, because I share a lot of information and special things with my subscribers that I don't share anywhere else.  


I like to photograph a wide variety of animals in many different locations.  I live in the central part of the USA in the Ozark Mountains, however, I frequently travel out west to the Rocky Mountains and east to the Smoky and Appalachian Mountains.

I use the following photography gear for my wildlife photography

  • Nikon D5 camera
  • Nikon 600mm F4 Prime Telephoto Lens
  • Nikon 500mm F4 Prime Telephoto Lens
  • Nikon 200-500mm F5.6 Zoom Lens
  • Nikon 400mm F2.8 Prime Telephoto Lens
  • Nikon 300mm F4 Prime Telephoto Lens
  • Nikon 24-120 F4 Zoom Lens 
  • Gitzo 5 Series Tripods 
  • Really Right Stuff Monopod 
  • Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head 
  • Wimberley Gimbal Head 

My default kit for hiking is the 300mm F4 lens mounted on the D5 and I carry the 1.4 TC and 2.0 TC in case I need more reach.  I also put the 24-120mm lens in the pack most of the time for environmental type opportunities.  I hike with the InReach Explorer Satellite device so that I can communicate with family and in case of an emergency.  I mostly do day hikes that start before sunrise because this is my favorite time of the day to experience wildlife.  

If you enjoy Wildlife photography too, send me an email and introduce yourself.  

-Tim Layton