7.16.2018

It looks like we've hit critical mass. The trip to Iceland is a go. And just thinking about the upcoming trip is a nice diversion from the heat and dust storm we're experiencing today.


I've been looking over the details for my upcoming trip to Iceland and I'm already getting excited about it even though we don't leave until October 27th. Part of my excitement is just the anticipation of cool weather; it's going to be in the 100's here for the foreseeable future and we've also got the twin (discomfort) overlays of high humidity and a freak dust cloud from the Sahara Desert making the skies look smoky, hazy and blah.

Here are the trip details. Now comes the hard part.... What kind of gear do I pack?

I'm kidding. Nothing hard about that. I'll take the same kind of gear I would take for any fun travel adventure but I'll add in a good, lightweight tripod for long exposures.

Since we have no idea what systems I'll be shooting with in a couple of months (kidding, kidding, kinda...) I thought I'd put together a non-branded gear list and you can tell me if you think I'm leaving anything out.

First up: two identical cameras bodies. probably full frame and high resolution since we'll be doing a mix of shooting. But really, two bodies because I'd hate to be in a beautiful place, have a camera go on medical leave and not have a replacement within easy reach. And while I'm at it I'll pack at least two batteries for each camera body. If I decide to mix in a bit of video I'll add a few more batteries just to make sure I can always make it through a day of high volume, mixed photography and videography.

I'm taking a super wide angle zoom lens. Generically speaking how about a 14-24mm f2.8 lens? Sounds perfect for anything I might need in the wide regions. I'll also take along a 24-105/120mm standard zoom to use for lots and lots of handheld stuff that falls into my preferred focal length range.
On the long end, no matter what system ends up in the bag I'll bring a 70-200mm f4.0 (or equivalent) for a bit of compression. And, finally, since I can't seem to leave home without one, I'll being some sort of fast or semi-fast 50mm lens. Maybe (going off the generic path) the Sigma 50mm Art lens!

I could comfortably do with just the standard and long zooms but I figure we'll have transportation and time so why not push my own envelope a bit and play?

Maybe I'll drop one small flash in the bag but I'm not leaning in that direction right now....

Just thinking about packing for "moderate" weather is bringing a smile to my face. Now, where did I put that sunscreen?

26 comments:

Frank Grygier said...

I would check the weather for Iceland in October. Highs in the 40's Lows in the 30's. Pack for winter.

Kirk Tuck said...

My friend, James, chided me for not including a laptop and enough dongles to fire up a hotel provided projector for evening image sharing and critiques.

Kirk Tuck said...

Frank. Cold weather. Yummmm.

Bill Stormont said...

Wise Words from the Recent Past (11/24/2017 on VSL):

"I did my research and decided that a micro four thirds system, built around the Panasonic GH5, would best suit my varied needs (video, portraits, general business photography) and I invested in it completely this year."

Stick with the gear that continues to perform well for you today. Two GH5 bodies, the Panny/Leica 8-18, a 45mm, and the Olympus 40-150 IF you want to go beyond a 200mm equivalent OR the 12-100mm if you don't. If you'd even consider a bulkier 35mm ensemble, take 'em both...with room to spare for batteries and video accessories (I hope you'll return with cool video from this trip).

A fellow once asked me what I considered a photographer's most important piece of gear, and I replied "Attitude." You have that covered extremely well, and while you're touring the participants (even though they have a guide) may well regard you as The Leader, and their experiences (and memories) will include you. They're a lucky bunch—have a great trip.

ODL Designs said...

It is always fun deciding what to bring. One of my best trips was to the Philippines where I took the 25mm f1.4, the 9-18mm f4-f5.6 and the 40-150f3.5-5.6.

I honestly took the best photos I had in years, mostly with the 25mm. I also only edited on my phone while I was away to share with family. That was also liberating.

In a couple of days I am off to London to see my father. This time I am leaning towards the 12 f2, 17f1.2 and 25f1.8. leaving all the zooms at home.

I will I was joining you Kirk but all my time off is being spent with my dad who is quite unwell.

Enjoy the indecision, also, a free trial packs are great as well!!

Russ said...

I was in Iceland in July a few years back and I wore fleece everyday. It can be incredibly windy there so a regular tripod with the ability to hang a heavy weight from the camera post would be recommended. I'm sure you and the group will have a wonderful time no matter the weather... if it's raining that means that somewhere there's a rainbow, you just have to go find it.

Mike Rosiak said...

Good walking shoes. Water-resistant in some way. And wool socks.

Rain protection, for you and your gear. Gloves.

Power adapter. Make sure your charger(s) handle 240V 50 Hz.

Alternatives when (not if) the weather gets foul.

Circular polarizing filters. Lens cleaners.

Convertible outerwear. Plan for three weather extremes any day.

Thank the weather gods if none of these precautions are needed.

Gilly said...

Take your GH 5 Kirk and treat yourself to a G9. Pack your favourite lenses, shoot heaps of video and produce a video of your tour.

Henk said...

Memory cards and a back-up device. Enjoy the preparations.

A. Wright said...

I am sure you will have a wonderful trip. We went to Iceland for our honeymoon, way before it became popular and it is a great country to visit.

Not sure if you will be looking for aurora, but if you are then you could make use of a wide fast lens.

Mark Gillett said...

Sadly i can’t join your trip in October, but I’m off on Monday for a 4 day trip to Reykjavik with my family as a 60th birthday present. I’m still deciding what camera/lens combination to take - my D610 with a 24-70 lens and a nifty fifty or my D5300 with 18-140 lens. We’re going to be travelling light so I’m limited in what i can carry. The temperatures are currently in the mid 50’s a change from the 80’s and 90’s we’ve been experiencing here in the uk.

Joseph Kashi said...

Our transitional coastal/boreal area of Alaska gets the Japan Current just as Iceland gets the Gulf Stream/North Atlantic Drift, both areas are within a few degrees of latitude, and both mountainous. Late October tends to be stormy, with mixed rain and snow. By the end of October, direct sunshine is very short at these high latitudes although there's about one hour of usable twilight at dawn and dusk and the alpenglow can be fabulous.

I wouldn't take any camera or lens that was not seriously weather-sealed and would be reluctant to change lenses often in that sort of environment.

I would not take any clothing that is not seriously weather-resistant. Rather than buying outdoor clothing in Texas, it might make sense to call ahead to a reputable outfitter in Iceland or your local guy on the groun. Get their recommendations and have them order appropriate clothing, waterproof boots with good grip on wet, slippery rocks, etc in your size for your arrival. Tourists we see up here typically are overdone, looking like a sharp-talking Cabela's saleperson really got to them or underdressed for wet conditions, but rarely just right for the locale.

My photo gear suggestions, based upon working in similar Alaskan conditions, would be to:

1. Take an E-M1 Mark II and your 12-100 as a backup to any full-frame gear, along with a few sharp wide-aperture primes for some of the visually interesting but inevitably dim and cloudy conditions that you're likely to encounter, particularly during early morning and evening.

2. Take lots of spare batteries as well and keep them warm.

3. A Western Digital MyPassport SSD hard disk with the SD card slot and auto-SD download to the drive would be a really worthwhile backup in those conditions.

Joseph Kashi said...


An addendum to my earlier Email


4. This may be the excuse needed to buy some of those nice Olympus weather-sealed f/1.2 primes that you regularly mention as tempting.

Alex said...

A pair of fast-drying briefs for all those hot pools is necessary, too. You may smell of rotten eggs, but nothing beats a hot pool in the open.

Anonymous said...

I'll second what others have said about being prepared for all kinds of weather. We spent the last week of April 2017 driving the ring road around the island, and along the way encountered snow (twice), strong winds, heavy rains that lasted the entire day, and even pleasant sunshine.
Ken

Eric Rose said...

If your like me the hardest part of packing for a non business trip is deciding what camera gear to take. I can ponder this for at least a week, have several different iterations all packed and ready to go and then change it all around at the last minute. The rest of the packing takes me about 15 minutes.

Iceland is on my bucket list, to bad I couldn't make this trip work out with my schedule.

I like the above idea about making a video of the adventure. Something between a Lonely Planet travel log and a Bourdain treatment. I have lead countless group trips all over the world and a commemorative group video sells well. Show it on the last night and be ready with a DVD burner for the orders you will get.

Remember to have fun!

Eric

Dave said...

I'd take two bodies, and 2 50 mm lenses (or their equivalent) and work within their limitations.
Right now my kit is my Fuji x100F with a fixed 35 mm equivalent and a few holga cameras.
I'm not a pack mule. I can't stand carrying every thing for every possible contingency.
I don't find I miss having a telephoto or other lengths.
YMMV

mosswings said...

Wave hi if you see me...Icelandair is doing its usual screamin' deal packages, and we're a nonstop away from Reykjavik - so we'll be arriving for some Aurora hunting about the time you're leaving.

Make sure you've got a true wide angle fast lens and a tripod for the Northern Lights, as well as close quarters shots. Your 12-100 is a great lens, but it doesn't go wide enough.

Other than that, think Northern Tier inclement clothing...it gets dang cold at night. Sew additional pockets inside your puffy jacket for batteries. Remember a headlamp. Very useful with 20 hours or darkness. Carry those bend-to-activate heat packs for your hands and toes.

Oh, yeah - and if you can, buy your alcohol at the airport duty free shop and clank your way into town on the Flybus. Taxes are high. Very high.

Bassman said...

We went to Iceland two summers ago.

Electronics and photo gear: E-M1 (GX7 as backup, never used), 9-18, 12-35, 25-100, 17/1.8. 65% of keepers with 12-35. Good tripod, backup device (WD Passport Wireless), cards, batteries, chargers, cleaning kit, etc. Mains adaptors. iPad, iPhone, chargers.

Clothing: layers, layers, layers. GoreTex jacket and shoes. Rain pants. Base layer, T-shirt’s, puffy jacket. Rain cover for camera (never used). Hat, watch cap. Light gloves.

Andy Gordon said...

Experience tells me that a good wide prime with a hard stop focus makes getting pictures of the northern lights just that bit easier when its dark and cold and the camera doesn't want to pick focus on a shimmering glow in the sky.

Hypothetically speaking an old AIS 20mm would do the trick

Plus of course warm clothes, good boots and plent of cash for the beer - £10 a pint when I was there!

mikepeters said...

Ok, I'll give you an interesting set of lenses that I have carried on a recent trip. Laowa 7.5 f2 (really fantastic lens), Panasonic 15/25/42.5 f1.7's and the Panasonic 14-140 3.5-5.6, or since you have it, the Olympus 12-100 which is heavier but weather sealed and super good. Plenty of range, speed when you need it, and not too many ounces. You have 2 GH5's, so you're set.

Just bring a bunch of memory cards, back them up, but don't erase them. I'll be interested to see what you actually come up with.

Hardison said...

I would be interested in hearing your thought process about the full frame vs. MFT. In the past, you have demonstrated the flexibility of the Panasonic (GH5, I think). I am surprised that you would go with full frame as a travel camera.

I would also like to hear your thought process of the Sigma 50mm Art lens as compared to the "nifty fifty" (and similar models). The Sigma has fantastic color and sharpness, but so do the Panasonic Leica 25mm and the Olympus pro 25mm.

Michael Matthews said...

The comments suggest it’s time to start vlogging. You’ve already got the cap-on-backward part nailed. Now if you can fly into the opening shot on a motorized skateboard and greet your audience with a ritual “Hey, what’s up guys!” there may be a future in this.

Anonymous said...

If your GH5s are you main cameras, consider D7xx or 8xx as your "backup system" (seems silly seeing it in writing) for high ISO and never ending battery on long exposures of aurorae. Sounds like a good excuse to pick up a Nikkor 14, 15, 16, 18, or 20. And for the ultimate cure for batteries don't fail me now paranoia, why not an FM2N and a couple of rolls of E100 or Provia? And a good light with red lens for stumbling around in the darkness and finding your cable release for the FM2N without blowing your night vision.

jiannazzone said...

I would take only one system, the trinity of lenses for that system, and a backup body with a wide to tele back up zoom.

You would do your participants a favor by showing them that you don’t need cases of large equipment to make good images (as you have shown those of us who follow your blog).

amolitor said...

Remember what it is that you love about photography.

Take portraits of the participants.

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