Iceland Trip – T Minus 72 Hours

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With an extensive photographic tour of Iceland only days away, planning is now coming to an end. The time for packing, final gear selection and checking the minutia of the trip’s arrangements are the order of the day. Successful landscape tours are as much about itinerary planning, location research, logistics, acquiring local knowledge and the right equipment as they are about creativity. Of course, without creative vision, the trip from a photographic perspective would be wasted. However, don’t think for one-second creativity is the only criteria required for success.

Iceland is now justly seen as the go-to location for photographers around the world, offering stunning landscapes, breath-taking glaciers, volcanic beaches, lava fields, and some of the world’s most dramatic waterfalls. However, with these untamed forces of nature comes unseen dangers. For photographers, these are particularly prescient and safety awareness forms an important part of the planning process.

This is the first of my intended despatches, covering my solo photographic tour of Iceland. I am spending 10 days on the island, covering 40 shooting locations starting in the south of Iceland. I am intending to drive around the island’s ring road starting in Reykjavik, travelling through the stunning vistas of Iceland’s southern and eastern coasts before reaching the desolate volcanic fields of the north. From there, I will catch an internal flight from Akureyri back to Reykjavik and drive on to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula for the last leg of the trip.

I am looking to share my experiences and offer some useful pointers for those thinking of taking a similar trip. I am taking my laptop and will try to share a few selected images along the way to both entice you to this incredible island but also bring to life some of the image capture descriptions and experiences during the trip. For this first article, I thought it might be worthwhile exploring the thinking behind my final decisions regarding my photographic kit. I have thought long and hard about what to take, with a number of factors influencing my choice. Here is a quick summary:

Firstly, the issue of equipment weight and striking the right balance between feeling you are carrying a sack of coal to having the right equipment on-hand needed to do the job. This is always a tough one. Especially for me, as I like to be prepared for every eventuality. Secondly, lens choice. This was also a difficult decision. Ideally, I would like to take all of them, but common sense prevailed in the end and I struck a deal with myself. My final lens choice allows me to cover the perspectives and shots I have planned for each of the locations without needing orthopaedic surgery on my return. Thirdly equipment backup. This is always a key issue for remote locations such as Iceland. My rule is, if there is a more than outside chance of equipment failure, take a back-up. However being realistic this meant batteries and memory cards. Finally weatherproofing. Iceland is windy, wet, cold and the waterfalls are likely to shower both you and your equipment heavily at times. A brief search on the web soon pointed me to the right waterproofing gear for the camera. With these criteria in mind, here is a pretty exhaustive list of my technical and ancillary equipment being packed in readiness for the trip:

Camera:
Canon 5D Mark III
Lenses:
Canon L series 17-40mm (f 4)
Canon L series 24-70mm (f2.8)
Canon 85mm (f 1.8)
Canon L series 135mm (f 2)

Tripod:
Manfrotto 055X PROB

Filters
Cokin Z series pro system filter holder system:
Cokin ND 5, 10 Nuance filters
Cokin full ND 1, 2, & 3 filters
Cokin graduated ND 1, 2 & 3 filters

K&F ND 8, 4 & 2 Screw-on filters
Zomie ND 10 screw-on filter
Polaroid Polarising screw-up filter

Photo Accessories
Live View Screen Viewer and Magnifier
Canon GP-2 E2 GPS EXIF data tracker
Jintu remote self-Timer
3 CD disks (for stabilising tripod legs in sand)
4 canon LP-E6N camera batteries

Miscellaneous Items
Fingerless gloves
Handheld Garmin GPS
Various additional device batteries
Altura Camera body and lens see-through waterproof protector
First aid kit
Maps
Hard Copy Itinerary
Mac Laptop
Mobile Phone
Waterproof overshoes
Various hard copy maps
Credit and Debit cards
Seagate 2 terabyte external hard disk

Finally, my next intended despatch will be from the tiny fishing village of Grindavik on the south-western coast of the island around thirty minutes from the airport. Here, I will be taking a swim in Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon, before heading back to Grindavik for some late evening photo opportunities of its famous picturesque harbour. I hope to update this account of the trip then.

David