At least half the satisfaction I get from a good photograph is the adventure that goes into exploring an area to get find it. So I'm very excited to get to travel with Improve Photography to Iceland in April as its wide open landscapes should provide many opportunities for adventure and amazing photographs!
This trip is a prequel to Iceland, a very fortunate practice run to Snowdonia! Snowdonia...sounds fake...too good to be true for photographers...but I can confirm it's real and in Whales of all places!
Coming from South Carolina with a very different terrain and climate I was worried about having the right gear and techniques for the environment in Iceland. When going to a new “epic” location you want to focus your energy on taking photographs and not worrying about how to use your gear in new conditions. Fortunately a business trip brought me to England and thanks to the inspiration from Thomas Heaton's video blogs I decided to drive 3 hours to Snowdonia's Ogwen Valley to get in a day of practice!
First when preparing to go anywhere I had to decide what to bring and how to pack. I easily had enough room in my suitcase to bring layers of clothes for the cold and expected rain. However my 24L hiking backpack was full with only limited camera gear (Sony A7R, 16-35mm, 55mm, 70-200mm lenses) and I hadn’t included a backup camera body or any astrophotography lenses. I want to keep my cameras and lenses on me for their safety and to ensure I can still photograph if my checked bag doesn’t make it for some reason. Therefore it was good practice to realize I would need something bigger.
This was my first serious trip with a new pair of Vasque St. Elias GTX Backpacking Boots which did great. Due to a rental car issue I arrived just after sunset my first day. I decided anyway to go hike the area at dusk so I would have an idea where to head for the next day’s sunrise. In a rush I didn’t bring most my gear and thankfully the waterproofing of the boots was very good as I ran through some bogs to catch some late color from the sunset.
What I should have had with me were the Large NEOS Trekker overshoes which slip over my size 8.5 M US hiking boots perfectly. They worked great in the boggy ground and the small streams I waded into the next day. I put them in a plastic bag and strapped them to the outside of my backpack when not in use as they ended up quite wet/muddy on the outside.
The weather there was 40F and light rain in the morning. I put some spray on waterproofing on my Patagonia shell jacket and tactical pants (I’ve tried 5.10 TacLite pants but they were too baggy and went with Propper Genuine Gear pants instead which need to be ordered up one waist size) which handled the rain well...but I forgot to spray my backpack or bring the rain cover. I also tried a disposable OP/TECH rain sleeve for a bit which worked and even better shortly after I started using it the rain stopped for the day…
Unfortunately I did not get any good light at sunrise or sunset, so I did some extra Photoshop work to "create" some interest. However it was a great trip that did a lot to help me prepare for taking photographs in Iceland. I realized I’ll have much more gear than normal and will need a larger backpack which I’m sure most people encounter when going on a photography trip. I’ve had some practice composing images with much larger mountains than in South Carolina and dealing with rain and unpredictable weather. I’m definitely more confident now about my trip to Iceland and looking forward to a great time!