Iceland is every photographer’s dream. If you’re anything like me and follow idyllic Instagram accounts from all over the globe (okay, for me perhaps more Scandinavia!) you need only go through your feed for a moment until something catches your eye, and with a sharp intake of breath, you look a bit closer and realise that, nine times out of ten, it’s Iceland! (Well, that’s certainly been happening to me lately…)
With so much to see, so many sources from which to gather inspiration, and so many ideas in mind of what you’d like to capture, how do you go about deciding what to pack? This was my dilemma exactly.
I can’t be the only photographer whose hand luggage is always their camera kit. Forget a handbag. Nah, not the car keys. What’s more important?! My camera. Each and every time. But that means I’m limited, in size and in weight, so it’s about packing smart, thinking ahead, and working out just what you’ll need and when.
Also I’m sure I can’t be alone in purchasing additional weight for my luggage so I can bring my tripod…and maybe my monopod too…
For my upcoming Iceland trip I’ll be testing my new camera bag configuration. Forever on the hunt for the perfect bag, and never quite managing to find it, I decided I’d create my own!
I chose a Tenba Tools BYOB10 insert – meaning ‘bring your own bag’ – and a plain rucksack to put it in to. These ingenious bag inserts mean I can turn any bag – handbag, rucksack or otherwise – into a fully padded camera bag for my equipment. The BYOB10 fits my camera body, plus 18-300mm, 10-20mm & 105mm macro lenses in comfortably with extra storage for things like memory cards in the side and front pockets.
The zip opens a flap, away from you, and it comes with enough dividers to configure it how you could use it most efficiently with your kit. The rucksack in question fits my usual all-black colour scheme, with this particular version retailing in Next at the moment. It has enough room for a small Mac or tablet, as well as filters, cleaning kit, and the essentials like water, a waterproof jacket, and those pesky car keys you nearly left at home.
I have high hopes for this new system; for one, it’s good to evenly distribute the weight (god only knows cameras aren’t the lightest of inventions), secondly, I love the idea that I’m not advertising how much money I’m walking around with (honestly when you add it up it’s scary) – and thirdly, it’s easy to change!
My one reservation at the minute is now my lack of weather resistance. My old faithful Aosta Interceptor is usually my bag of choice, which I bought because it was so amazingly weatherproof. Being made out of heavy duty tarpaulin, I put it down anywhere and give it a clean after, and as old habits die hard, I hope I don’t forget and put this new bag down somewhere silly…
I’ll be depending on my Nikon D7100 for all of my shots, utilising a 18-300mm for most subjects, 10-20mm for super wide angle landscapes, and 105mm macro for closeups of things like lava and other geological formations.
If I’m setting up for a long exposure, I’ll make use of my new Lumix TZ90 – which I purchased so I can travel light on the odd occasion; it’s not quite the same as using my DSLR, but has amazing functionality and probably does more things than I currently give it credit for – this means I can show you some ‘behind the scenes’ of what I’m up to.
I’d never undertake an epic adventure like this without using my GoPro; I love mounting it in the car and time-lapsing my journeys. It’s also perfect for low light situations like caving, when you’d rather enjoy the moment than set up with your tripod every few meters (because, trust me, I know sometimes it feels like you want to); mount it to the grip, or wear it on a chest harness, and you get the best of both worlds.
Needless to say, I don’t travel anywhere without my ND1000 from SRB (I wrote a post on how much I love it here), UV filter for added lens protection, and shutter cable. When the weather doesn’t give you sun…shoot long exposures in black and white! That’s how the saying goes, right? In order to do this I need to make sure I’ve got a sturdy base, which is exactly why I bought some extra weight for my hold luggage!
Both my tripod and monopod are Vanguard VEO, which is great for easy switching between the two – more detailed post on my experiences with these to come – I leave the base plate mounted to my camera at all times, and make sure I have a loose penny in my camera bag for tightening.
Sadly the bag that comes with the tripod won’t fit the monopod into, so I’ll just grab this out of the car as and when I need it to provide me some extra stability in the wind. I love small folding tripods in bags; gone are the days of traipsing around with a beast of a thing slung over one shoulder, the Vanguard VEO 235AB weighs in at just 1.5kg, so you don’t even notice you’re holding it.
Combine all of this with the essential cleaning equipment; I tend to gravitate towards my air blower, LensPen, and a neat little cleaning cloth I picked up – would you believe in the gift section of a garden centre – which folds up into itself, and can be hung on the inside or outside of your bag for quick and easy access. It feels like a soft jersey fabric, and isn’t that awful microfibre stuff which in essence just makes things more dirty.
The final touch to my bag is my pocket compass/thermometer by Silva, a Swedish outdoor brand who specialise in helping people not get lost in the wilderness…
I’ll take plenty of layers with me, a long weatherproof coat, and of course my Dr Martens. Forget walking boots, if I was that way inclined I’d probably climb Everest in them.
Keep an eye out for my daily Instagram stories from April 29th, where I’ll be sharing what I’m up to with a few behind the scenes shots, and promise to give you a full debrief when I’m back!