On Tour | My Camera Kit For Iceland
For many folks travel, as exciting as it is, involves certain compromises. For me the trickiest of these compromises is airline luggage allowances. In fact, because it’s necessary to cart your luggage around from place to place, it’s probably a good thing we’re limited by the size and weight of the luggage we’re able to bring onto a plane.
Less Gear Equals A Better Experience
Of course the enthusiastic photographer has to find a way to include camera, lenses, tripod, camera bag and, possibly, laptop and backup drives into their luggage allowance. This can involve some tricky decisions and often means you travel with only a portion of your photography kit. But the advantage is a lighter day pack and less stress when managing the relative tight carry-on luggage requirements.
The good news is that things are getting easier. Cameras, lenses and laptop computers are getting smaller and lighter.
An emerging trend is the mirrorless camera which, in many cases, offers a significantly smaller and lighter chassis then is the case with a traditional DSLR camera.
Many of these mirrorless cameras retain the full feature set associated with larger DSLR cameras and also include numerous technological advancements that make the process of making high quality photos quicker and easier than ever before.
I converted to a mirrorless system during 2015. It’s the top of the line Sony a7Rii camera, but there area numerous less expensive models from Sony, Olympus, Fuji and Panasonic that are also excellent choices. Canon and Nikon are either unwilling or unable to play, in a serious way, in this exciting new field of photography, though their DSLR’s are still excellent choices.
For my 2016 August Iceland Photography Tour I brought along my Sony a7Rii camera and three lenses: a Sony/Zeiss 16-35mm f4 super wide angle,;a Sony/Zeiss 24-70 f4 general purpose lens; and a lovely Sony 70-200mm f4 IS lens for added flexibility and for photographing details from within the larger landscape. I don't currently own a 70-200mm IS lens, but was fortunate to be able to borrow one from a dear friend.
As this was a landscape photography adventure I decided not to bring a flash with me. I'm keen to get a Sony a6500 camera as a backup camera which I'd also employ for fun photos of other photographers joining me on future tours. The Sony a6500 has a small inbuilt flash.
Memory Isn’t Just For The Brain
Of course, with so many wonderful landscapes to explore, you’ll need to ensure you have sufficient memory cards for your needs. I usually work with two large capacity cards, the images from which I download on a daily basis. My practice is to alternate from one card to the next on a daily basis. As I don’t like to leave images on a memory card I make sure they’re safely downloaded and backed up at the end of every day, regardless of how many photos I’ve made on that particular day.
In a group tour environment not everyone will decide to bring a laptop along. That's fine and, unless otherwise statement, there’s no requirement for you to bring one on one of my tours. You’ll just need to ensure you have plenty of cards for the duration of your trip. I recommend estimating the amount of photos you expect you’ll make and ensuring you have at least three times that capacity. Purchasing large capacity cards on route we be hard if not impossible and it’s not fair to expect that other folks will have a card to spare.
Tripods are not essential on all photography tours. However, a properly organized tour should ensure there will be plenty of room on the bus for your camera gear and a small daypack. I usually travel with my tripod and a small camera backpack, and I often also have a small, lightweight and collapsable camera bag which I can easily put my camera and several lenses into for those quick stops where a tripod is not required.
This makes the process of getting on and off the bus easier and it makes for a more physically active approach to your photography where, free from a tripod, you’ll be able to explore different angles and shooting styles with ease.
I’m an advocate for employing filters. Back in the day I had oodles of them. These days, in the world of digital photography, most folks can get by with just a few filters. These are the ones I recommend.
This is a clear piece of specially coated glass, mounted in a plastic or metal ring, that most folks use to protect the front element of their lens from dust, moisture, pollutants and fingerprints. Of course you need to keep the filter clean, otherwise it’s a bit like making photos from inside your car through a really dirty windscreen.
Ultra-Violet light is invisible to the human eye, yet it does have an adverse effect on our photos that’s evident in a potential loss of sharpness and contrast (i.e., pop); color saturation (i.e., color purity or richness); density and a slightly bluish color balance. A UV filter works to counter these adverse effects. My preference is for B+W filters.
This is an essential piece of kit for landscape photographers photographing on a sunny day. Properly used the polarizing filter will allow you to produce more colorful and more highly detailed images than you otherwise would be able to. Once again, by preference is for B+W Polarizing filters.
Neutral Density Filters
Neutral Density (i.e., ND) filters are wonderful for tripod based photography when you’re wanting to produce ethereal landscape images with moving water and/or clouds. My current preferred brand of Neutral Density filter are the Firecrest variety from Formatt-Hitech. They're quite expensive, but are very high quality filters.
Iceland is a country of sublime beauty which I've had the good fortune to visit and extensively photograph on two occasions. I’m very much enjoyed partnering with Wandering The World on my Iceland Photography Tour during August 2016. If you have any questions relating to undertaking a photography tour with me in the future feel free to contact me directly.