In just under 72 hours from now I should be arriving in Iceland for the first of three photography workshops that I am running up there this year. I say should, as I have yet to have the dreaded PCR test that everyone needs to take to travel abroad. I am sure the result will be negative. Do you remember the days when it was easy to travel abroad. You booked to go somewhere, packed and off you went. Oh, for those days to return. Now you have to have a PCR test and complete whatever documentation the country you are arriving in requires. Once there you need to do another PCR test to get on the flight home, making sure you complete the "Passenger Locator Form" ahead of arriving in the UK and then take another PCR test within 48 hours of arriving. Just incase you are wondering all 3 tests have cost about £200 all in. No wonder that families are holidaying in the UK at the moment.
Anyway onto the main subject of the blog. What I am putting in my Camera Bag for this trip. The workshop is 10 days long and we travelling around Iceland's Route 1 in a clockwise direction, taking in all of the major sights, along with chasing the Aurora. As with all trips abroad, you have to pack carefully to stay within you baggage allowance. 23kg in the hold of the aircraft sounds like a lot but the weight can soon add up. Many airlines now have strict limits on the size of the bag you can take into the cabin with you, in many cases you have to pay for a certain type of seat to put luggage into to the overhead locker. Otherwise its a very small bag that needs to fit under your seat. The additional cost isn't hugely expensive and its something that I would recommend doing. There is no way any of my cameras or lenses are going in with the normal baggage!
Let's start off with my camera bag then. It's an F-stop Tilopa with and a Large ICU ( internal camera unit ) inside. I have taken the, removal metal frame, out of it for this trip as it makes it much easier to compress if there was a problem getting it into the overhead locker. It is a fantastic bag and when out and about I can easier get a couple of camera bodies, 4 lenses, all my filters and drone inside plus a set of waterproofs. The tripod goes on the outside of the bag. F-stop bags are not cheap but the quality, design and functionality makes the price slightly less eye watering.
My Tripod is a Gitzo carbon fibre mountaineer. This doesn't come inside the plane with me as it fits into the holdall without any problems. If you have read any of my earlier blogs you will know that I have covered the rational around buying the best tripod you can afford. Once again this piece of kit wasn't cheap but you do get what you pay for. I can also strip in down in a few minutes to totally clean it after a day on the beach. Sand and saltwater eat tripods for breakfast if you are not careful. Every single component can also be ordered from Gitzo if anything ever goes wrong. It's weight is also a major factor when travelling or indeed hiking. At the business end of the tripod is a Really Right Stuff BH-30. I have owned a BH-55 for quite a while now and it is superb but it is heavy to carry. The BH-30 by comparison is very small and is only a fraction of the weight. It can also handle weights of upto 15lbs with ease, as ever the build quality of all Really Right Stuff products is exceptional.
I am taking two camera bodies with me. The first is my Canon 5DSR which is my main landscape camera. With its 50 megapixel sensor it is still my go to camera, not to mention legendary weather sealing and I can shoot redundantly with its dual card slots. I am also taking my EOS R which I am growing ever fonder of. In low light conditions and for dark sky shots it out performs the 5DSR by some way.
4 lenses will be getting packed along with the EF - RF convertor which means I can use my canon EF mount lenses on the EOS R. 1st lens is a sigma 12 - 24mm which is my super wider angle lens. There are some locations in Iceland where 16mm isn't just wide enough. Sure you could always do a pano to get everything in the frame but there is just something about shooting at 12 - 16mm which gives you a totally different perspective. Only problem with this lens in the bulbous front element which means you have to use different filters as the standard Lee 100mm ones won't fit. They are not in the picture but I will be taking a 10, 6 and 3 stop ND, a few grads and a polariser for this lens with me. I use the Lee SW150mm system. The 3 other lenses are my, Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L iii , 24-105mm F4 RF and 70-300mm f4 - 5.6 L. The 24-105 won't fit on my 5DSR being an RF mount lens but that's a compromise I am willing to make when I need this focal length. The EOS R has over 30 megapixels so image quality is still superb. The 70-300mm in so much sharper than my 70-200mm F4 and although it weights more I am saving weight with the 24-105mm and I am also not taking a 2 * extender. The 16-35mm is my all time favourite lens and if I could only take one lens with me then it would be this one. All of these lenses take the Lee 100mm filter system and again I am taking a 10, 6 and 3 stop, 3 sets of grads which have hard, medium and soft edges, a 3 stop reverse grad, a couple of circular polarises and also a wide angle hood which is great for shading the lens form the brightest of light ( which avoids lens flare ) but it also keeps the rain, hail or snow off the front optic when conditions are at their worst.
Just a quick word on filters. Many people are choosing not to use them at all. Instead they will bracket images and make the adjustments in post processing. I agree that grads aren't needed in all instances. However a polariser and some ND's are a good idea. Like tripods, buy the best you can afford. I know it can all add up, however the question I always ask clients is, "If you needed glasses to see, would you go to the opticians and get the correct prescription or would you just buy a cheap pair from Superdrug or a pound shop"? Camera lenses can cost thousands of pounds and you want the best quality image, so please don't put a cheap piece of glass of plastic in front of the lens as it defeats the object of buying good glass.
The most recent addition to the arsenal is a DJI Air 2s drone. I have had the original air for sometime but in all honest whilst the 4k video footage is great the still image quality was poor. The Air 2s has a 20 megapixel 1 inch sensor. It is also capable of bracketing images as well as shooting panos. I have only just got this and have taken a few test shots which have been just fantastic. I am really looking forward to getting creative with the 2s up in Iceland.
My Syrp Mini Genie will be getting put into the bag for timelaspes along with a couple of remote shutter releases. Spare memory cards and a 2TB external Lacie Hard Drive. I never delete any image when away and always back up to an external hard drive and the cloud when connect to wifi. The MacBook Pro fits nicely into the back pack for some quick edits whilst we are up in Iceland for social media and the odd blog.
Finally a few spare batteries, battery charger, sensor cleaners, lens cleaner, lens wipes and plenty of lenses clothes will complete everything that I will need.
This years trips to Iceland are all fully booked but if you are interested in coming in the future, you can find dates for 2023 by clicking on