Clothing and camera gear recommendation

WINTER TOUR CLOTHING GUIDE

The Icelandic winter is relatively mild for its latitude. The southerly lowlands of the island average around 0 °C (32 °F) in winter, while the highlands tend to average around −10 °C (14 °F). The lowest temperatures in the northern part of the island range from around −25 to −30 °C (−13 to −22 °F). The lowest temperature on record is −39.7 °C (−39.5 °F). This guide will provide you the basic information on how to dress properly in the various conditions of the tour in Iceland.

General Rule


Dress in layers. Use many thin, warm layers rather than a few thick layers. It will insulate better and allow you to strip off layers if the temperature climbs. Kindly check out this great article from REI clothing – http://goo.gl/aw3to6

*Rule number two for me is NO cotton anywhere – you sweat, cotton gets wet, stays wet and you get cold. A great video about layering https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-7vD1_DrHA

Most heat loss would be coming from these three vital areas. Make sure to protect them from cold or temperature drops and wind, I also included some other essentials in the list;

    • Wear more than one layer on your legs. Oddly, some people will wear five layers on their torso, and only one layer on the legs. At minimum, have a base layer like long underwear and an outer layer, like snowboarding pants.

    • Buy or find a pair of insulated boots. Ideally, the lining should be wool or synthetic–not cotton. Linings can be purchased separately. You can purchase boots already with the lining, or use boots two sizes larger than usual, and use a lining.

    • Overshoes. A must have for shooting in the coastal areas of the South Coast, for example at the famous ice beach. You can also use rubber boots if you wish.   You can buy overshoes here.

    • Wear winter socks. Warm winter socks are important in keeping warm dry feet. Wool is best, although good synthetic “fleece” socks are often quite good. You can layer socks, but be careful that your feet are comfortable and the circulation isn’t shut down.

    • Buy a good Balaclava. This is what you would put on when the wind begins to blow down your neck and a hat is not enough. I recommend a fleece balaclava. For milder temperature, a neck BUFF (wool) is sufficient, it protects your neck and can be pulled over your head if you need a bit more protection.

    • Hat – A wind stop fleece is highly recommended. If the wind is blowing, the next layer for my head is the hood on my outer shell . If your head is still cold, we can get a thick wool hat at the next gas station.

    • Gloves. These are always a problem for me when taking photos. I do not yet have the perfect solution. Most of the time I use fingerless mittens built with a flap that can cover my fingers: I have tried various light weight gloves inside the mittens but I have not yet found a pair of inside the mitten gloves that are warm and allow me to operate the camera. Take a look at some hunting gloves and see if you think you could operate a camera wearing them.

    • Ice Crampons are essential gear. Walking on ice is no laughing matter, we will be having areas where it is essential to walk on ice, for example areas around waterfalls. You can buy Crampons here.

SUMMER TOUR GEAR ESSENTIALS

Iceland in summer, a lot of things can be expected; the long summer days, midnight sun, and everything being more green and lush. The average summer temperature in the southern part of the island is 10–13 °C (50–55 °F). Warm summer days can reach 20–25 °C (68–77 °F). It is important that you prepare for the climate properly in terms of clothing, outdoor apparels and equipment.

Clothing

Upper Garments – It is important to bring upper garments that are breathable, quick drying and offer some sort of UV protection. Our locations will be varied but will involve shooting in coastal areas. Here are some of our recommendations; take note that the brands mentioned here are examples only and you may use your preferred brands;

  • Quick dry shirts – Use as base layers for any summer activities, the quick dry shirts will offer some protection for sudden changes in temperature partnered with a long sleeve shirt or rain jacket.Columbia Zero rules T-shirt
  • Multi purpose hiking long sleeves – choose a long sleeve shirt that offer sun protection and is water repellant and quick drying.Columbia’s Cascade Explorer Long Sleeve shirt
  • Light windbreaker or rain jacket – As we always say in our tour, the weather in Iceland is unpredictable and summer rains are possible. Try to bring a lightweight rain jacket for these instances.
    North Face Rain JacketColumbia Lightweight Rain Jacket
  • Headwear – Balaclava, neck gaiter and hats are also good recommendations to serve as wind and sun protection.
    Balaclava – choose those that are breathable and wind proof.Neck Gaiters – if you find balaclava too restrictive, windproof neck gaiters are much cheaper and flexible.Hats – any hat that will offer UV protection for extremely sunny conditions.
  • All around sweater – during the night no matter how short it is, temperature will drop and it is quite handy to have a sweater for such conditions.
  • Lightweight and windproof gloves – choose those with tactile features and that you can operate your camera with.

Lower Garments – Comfortable and flexible are the key words for lower garments, they must be able to withstand outdoor activities, breathable and offer some sort of wind protection.

  • Thermal/ base layers – During the short nights and waiting for sunrise and temperature will drop, a good base layer pants will be handy.
  • Hiking Pants – Good breathable pants that offer UV protection and wind resistance.Columbia hiking pants
  • Outdoor socks – warm and breathable socks are best recommended. Check some options here;
  • Hiking boots – we recommend those that are breathable and waterproof. There are so many brands and designs out there; here is a good article for you to help you choose.
  • Water boots or Overshoes – We will be working on coastal and river scenes as mentioned above and having these will be advantageous for getting into the right vantage point for good composition.Water boots – if you have space in your luggage, water boots are good as they are sturdy and will offer protection in coastal areas and rivers.Overshoes – A lightweight, foldable and waterproof protection that can be easily stored in your luggage.

All of the above are suggested and for recommendation only. Different people have different tolerance in temperatures depending on their current locations. It is best to be always be prepared.

 

LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY ESSENTIALS

Getting ready for an ICELAND photography tour or safari? Do want to bring home print and contest worthy photographs? This guide will help you maximise the experience and get yourself prepared for the trip. All the necessary important gear will be carefully recommended, we will stress out the importance of these equipment, the brands that we have tested that is worth the purchase.

A high megapixel Digital SLR or full frame Mirrorless camera

The advancements in technology have produced Digital SLR cameras that have high dynamic ranges , less digital noise at high ISO and provides output for high megapixel images for big prints. See recommendation’s below) that provides the best results.

If you are unsure of purchasing a full frame camera, there are cropped sensor Digital SLR’s that are also capable of producing decent images. They have their own line of ultra wide lenses which we will discuss next.

There are numerous brand systems in the market today, if your system is not in our list such as Fuji, Olympus, Pentax, etc. And as long as they fit the basic requirements and lenses, then we feel this will be able to perform as expected.

Lenses

A critical part in a photography tour is choosing the right lens to bring to the trip. A landscape photography safari brings you to grand and majestic locations and they are best captured by these lenses.
Ultra wide angle lensesThe most important lenses for Landscape photography! For those with full frame cameras, the following lenses have been tested by your guides and have numerous positive reviews from the professionals. Ultra wide angle lens helps you capture the entire beauty of Iceland’s iconic locations, they are the primary choice of most landscape photographers. It is also critical in capturing the Aurora Borealis, so choose lenses with high aperture such as F2.8.

Standard Zoom lens – This will be handy for general purpose photography in your trip. From shooting Icelandic horses to shooting waterfalls from a safe distance.

Telephoto Zoom lens – During the course of the trip, we will be visiting glaciers and mountain ranges. This will be the perfect time for you to use these lenses. Ideally a fast zoom lens will be nice but their weight maybe a burden. We have included choices in our recommendations that are lightweight.

A sturdy and dependable tripod and head.

The tripod is the lifeline of your camera. It is important that your tripod is sturdy and can deal with the rugged and outdoor environment. Remember, you wouldn’t want your thousand dollars camera in the hands of a cheap tripod.

In choosing your tripod, make sure you take consideration of these pointers;

  • Carbon Fiber. They are light for travel and can absorb vibrations better than aluminium.
  • Twist lock or clip type. Both have it’s pros and cons. Clip types are easier to set up but sand and dust can easily penetrate it. Twist locks are mostly dust and dirt proof and easier to clean.
  • Tripod size and height. As a rule of thumb, the height of your tripod must not exceed eye level with the camera placed. This will not only ensure proper posture, it can also be handled and maneuvered easily.

Ball head – working in uneven surfaces, it easier that your tripod heads can be flexible and be adjusted accordingly. Ball heads are very easy to operate and have a wide choice of sizes. Choose the type that you are comfortable operating.

Manfrotto, Really Right Stuff (RRS) and Gitzo are brands that we have tested and have been using for years. These are available in most stores.

Samples of carbon fiber tripods and ball heads, take note you have to choose the right model based on height and weight of your camera system.

Filters

They offer more creative possibilities with your Digital SLR than any other camera accessories for landscape. Take a look at the work of the most notable landscape photographers including our guide and you’ll see that they used an array of filters in capturing their images.

Screw type filters; These filters attach via the filter thread on the front of most lenses. Screw type filters offer the advantage of using premium quality optical glass, while their small size means they’re easy to store and carry. The disadvantage is that each only fit one diameter of lens, so if your lenses require different filter thread sizes, you’ll need extra filters. Using more than one filter together risks edge sighting.

Slot in Filter system;

  • Circular Polarizing filter (CPL) – these are used to boost saturation and also either enhance reflections or remove flares/ glares.
  • 6 stops and 10 stops Neutral Densities (ND) – They can be in the form of screw in filter or slot in system. These are used for long exposure effects, they provide those misty, still waters and streaking clouds2
  • 3 stop Graduated Neutral Density filters (GND) – Available only for slot systems, they increase the dynamic range of any scene and makes it possible to have bright foreground and well exposed skies. They come in hard edge (abrupt graduation) and soft edge (gradual).

If you plan to use a number of filters or have several lenses, a slot-in system is more practical. You only need to buy one of each type, which can be inserted into a holder attached to the lens via combined proper sized ring. You will need a ring for each lens but swap the holder between them. Most slot-in filters are made from resins, lastly you need to take more care than with glass filters to avoid scratches.

The following are the recommended types of filters to get the best of any situations;

  • Circular Polarizing filter (CPL) – these are used to boost saturation and also either enhance reflections or remove flares/ glares.
  • 6 stops and 10 stops Neutral Densities (ND) – They can be in the form of screw in filter or slot in system. These are used for long exposure effects, they provide those misty, still waters and streaking clouds2
  • 3 stop Graduated Neutral Density filters (GND) – Available only for slot systems, they increase the dynamic range of any scene and makes it possible to have bright foreground and well exposed skies. They come in hard edge (abrupt graduation) and soft edge (gradual).

 

The following are recommended filters. We strongly suggest you purchase these items before the trip as this may not be available in the location. Important! Do not buy Variable ND’s filters!

Hoya

Lee Filters –  Kindly make sure you buy the holder with ring system for your lenses!

Holder system with Ultra wide ring (size depends on your lens thread diameter)

Other Accessories

Cable Release or Intervalometer remote – dealing with filters, you will be using long exposure techniques as a creative tool. This means your shutter exposures will be more than 30 seconds and will require the use of Bulb mode. Having remotes will make sure you can maximise the technique and filters.

Rain sleeves – being outdoor and shooting landscapes, your gear will be exposed to the environment. Rain sleeves offer protection from mist, water sprays and dust.

…And you are all set. This will definitely boost both your learning and actual experience in our tour and workshop. These essentials will help our guides in teaching and showing you how a captivating and epic landscape are captured. See you soon.