Friday, October 3, 2014

Photography In Iceland

One of my biggest concerns with packing for Iceland was what photography equipment to take. I am by no means an expert photographer, but I have been working the past couple years to shoot in manual on a DSLR camera and I was set on bringing a good camera on this trip! My dad is also an amateur photographer so he lent me a whole lots of camera equipment to pick through for this trip.

Let's just say that didn't help my problem as I had too much to choose from!

Here were my various considerations when choosing equipment:

How would I carry it?
I knew we would be doing a lot of hiking, so I wasn't sure I wanted to lug around a huge camera. On the other hand I knew that we would also have a car that I could leave my large camera in. Therefore I ended up bringing a large camera (a Nikon D300S) AND a smaller camera (a Nikon 1). I also brought a large camera backpack (a Kata 3n1 bag) for leaving in the car, and a smaller camera bag to carry around the Nikon 1 in while hiking.

In Iceland there are a lot of scenic spots right alongside the road so that large camera got plenty of use without me needing to lug it all over.

Nikon 1, ISO 160, 11 mm, f4.0, 1/1000 sec

How will I use it?
I had a hard time choosing between the two tripods. They both weighed the same, but the orange one had more options for setting up. However the black one was faster to set up. In the end I took the orange one because it had a carrying case and was better suited for windy days because it could be weighted down. I knew I was unlikely to be setting a tripod up in a hurry, so I was able to ignore that problem. I also selected lenses between my two cameras so that I could use each camera for a different purpose- like zooming, wide angle shots, or quick shooting. No point in duplicating all my lenses just because I had two cameras!

I wasn't actually sure I would use the tripod, but it sure did come in handy for shooting the Northern Lights! I also was glad that I packed my wide angle lens and remote just for this:)

Nikon D300S, ISO 1600, 10mm lens, f4.0, 8 sec exposure

What Lenses Will I Need?
This is obviously a personal question, but I packed a wide angle lens and a good zoom lens (28-300mm) for the D300s, and a few lenses for the Nikon 1, but I only used a relatively short zoom lens on the Nikon. The lenses for the Nikon 1 were light and small so I didn't mind having packed the others. I actually weighed my two zoom lenses, though I did end up taking the heavier one :)

I also brought an FT1 mount adapter for the Nikon 1, which allowed me to mount my larger lenses on it. The adapter actually also increases the focal length of a lens so I was able to really zoom in on things with this adapter, which was amazing for certain subjects- like a puffin that landed a little too far from me (he moved spots, but wasn't that much closer to me in the 1st shot)

Top: Nikon 1 with FT1 adapter, ISO 1400, 300mm zoom, f 5.6, 1/500 sec
Bottom: Nikon D300s, ISO 250, 300mm zoom, f 9.0, 1/60 sec

Will It Be Safe?
When you are carting around a few mortgage payments on your back in a foreign country, you kind of want to make sure it will be safe. I carried all my cameras and lenses in the backpack as my carry-on for the plane and I brought a lock with me so I could lock it up the hostel (most hostels have lockers available if you bring your own lock). So do some research before you go!

So what did I use the most? I really loved the Nikon 1- it was small, lightweight, and durable! It is actually waterproof, and while I certainly didn't go swimming with it, it was so handy for all the rain and misty waterfalls. It even came hiking on a glacier with me! I generally left this camera on auto settings as the manual was kind of tricky. I did use the manual when doing dusk/night photography because I didn't like how the camera did low lights on auto settings.

Nikon 1, ISO 320, 12mm, f3.8, 1/250 sec

However, I definitely do not regret bringing the large camera. It was great for so many scenic shots- not to mention the northern lights! Some of my favourite shots were with that camera because it just picked up great detail and did some great panoramic shots (though in the Nikon 1's defense- the Nikon 1 for some reason made my skin look fantastic). I think a lot of packing photography equipment is just balancing comfort of carrying all that stuff vs your desire to come back with some good shots. I think if you have a car and don't need to carry around everything on your back all day, then definitely bring a few extra things to get that perfect shot!

Don't judge my leggings-as-pants, I was on vacation!

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