June 21, 2016
In just a few weeks, me and my close friend will arrive in Reykjavik, Iceland, where we will rent a van and spend two and a half weeks driving across this majestic, rugged landscape…all I have to do now is learn how to drive stick first. Iceland has become an increasingly popular vacation destination over the past few years, so we knew that in order to do Iceland right, we had to go off the beaten path. We couldn’t be confined by tour buses or trails. No, we had to travel to the furthest most reaches of Iceland to see what it has to offer. And what good is doing all of that if we can’t show the rest of the world what we were able to find?
First Thing’s First: Know What You Want to See
Trips like this can’t be winged. You have to plan out your path, weigh travel time with a location’s appeal and know where you’re going to camp. When you’re taking a photo trip, knowing what you’re going to be shooting is the first step in knowing what to bring. Checking out blogs, searching and looking at location tags and hashtags on Instagram and prowling travel packages are great first steps in discovering locations and planning out the trip you want. Don’t underestimate forums either – Reddit is a great place to ask any questions you have, or share a photo to say, “Where’s this?” If you happen to find a place this way, message the person who shared the photo. You’d be surprised how difficult some places are to get to.
Packing for a cross country trek across Iceland’s dynamic terrain means that you’re going to have to be very careful about how heavy your gear is. The key to trips like this is to understand that you’re going to have to make compromises when it comes to the equipment and gear you’re comfortably and practically able to bring. That massive telephoto lens you have? Sure, bring it if you really need it, but know that you won’t be able to bring much more. You’ll have to make some sacrifices, but plotting out the locations and areas you want to shoot beforehand will inform what you bring.
Me? I tried to find one medium-sized lens that would work in most situations, and a few smaller lenses for the rest. I’m bringing my Canon 6D (complete with WiFi for those all important Instagram updates), Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L for landscape shots, a fisheye lens for messing around in the van and a super cheap, super small, super disposable 50mm lens that I can drop in the ocean and not cry a river about. Remember, all this gear has to sit alongside your tripod, charger, extra batteries, timer, lens wipe and memory cards.
Though my trip will only last a little more than two weeks, I don’t want to come home with 10,000 unedited photos. Instead, I’d much rather find highlights as I go. Wherever you’ll be, make sure that you can access your computer and check out some popular presets online. The Nik Collection is free, and a great place to start. Build some time in your schedule to sit down every few days and find those stellar shots. Lightly tweaking and prepping some of the stand outs as your trip advances will save you time and spare up some extra space. You’ll be thanking yourself when you get home when you don’t have thousands of photos to go through at once. But hopefully you won’t be home too soon, because why would you want to be?