Well, I am back from my trip to Iceland. I had planned on sending a series of post blog posts while there, but that quickly became impossible once the trip started. We were, quite simply, shooting too much to update blogs.
How much were we shooting, while the schedule for one day was as follows:
6:30am Leave to shoot Sunrise
10:30 Morning Shoot
1:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm afternoon shoot
6:00 pm Dinner
7:30pm sunset shoot
11:00 pm to 2am Aurora shoot
…and you guessed it….Out again at 6:30am for a sunrise shoot….
There were guests at one of the places we stayed who must have through we were some kind of roaming mercenaries. We left and returned at all hours, carrying heavy backpacks of equipment, and looking like we have been outdoors the whole time – because has had been. We got some strange looks while returning at 9:30am and going off for naps before shooting again .
However, I did manage to post to facebook on a daily basis. I tried to make sure I posted something everyday after receiving a worried email form a family member because I had not posted recently. It turns out the several family members were using FB to track me and make sure I was OK. A strangely reassuring feeling, so, since every where we stayed had wifi, I was able to quickly upload a photo or two despite a punishing shooting schedule.
Our trip in a nutshell consisted of starting on the western side of Iceland, traveling all the way to eastern side and then back again. If we weren’t eating or sleeping, we were riding in vehicles and shooting. It was intense and I loved every minute of it. I brought a waterproof video camera and a waterproof compact camera and used neither of them. If I was not shooting with the Canon 1Dx, I was shooting with my iPhone. The iPhone really has replaced the compact camera and I don’t think I will even bring the smaller cameras on the next trip. In fact for this blog post, I think every photo was taken with my iPhone. The iPhone turned out to be an excellent tool for capturing the story of the trip. I think I am going to invest in a waterproof case before the next trip, as the elements on trips like this are likely to destroy any unprotected electronics.
Andy Biggs, Joshua Holko, and Daniel Bergmann were our hosts for this adventure. These three spent a long time planning the trip and trying to account for reaching the best sites and the randomness of Iceland weather. Strangely enough, the weather reminded me of Nova Scotia, where I grew up and was strangely familiar. Some people had trouble with how often the weather changed, but if felt perfectly normal to me.
I found carrying my iPhone in it’s belt pouch to be a pain as it was hard to reach with waterproof pants on. I finally began to carry it in an upper pocket and this also convinced me to buy a protective case for it.
As well a shot like the one below is not possible without a rear-facing camera.
It also lets you see what is happening behind you. A car full of photographers becomes interesting during long drives.
My Outdoor Research merino wool gloves failed to live up to expectations and were discarded early in the trip. My Ice Breaker gloves once more stood up to the heavy use in the shoot and were my primary gloves for the entire trip. I found them to be perfectly fine, even in -8C weather and still allowed me to work the camera. During night shoots I was able to setup in complete darkness with my Ice Breaker gloves.
Some of the other equipment that failed was my iphone charger. It toasted itself for no apparent reason and was discarded.
Some of the gear that really stood up during this trip was:
I am wearing microspikes in this shoot, as it Joshua Holko who took the picture. Without microspikes, this experience would have been a brief slide on the ice you see, a splash and hopefully they would recover my body from the rapids you see in the background. There is nothing but ice between where we are and the rapids themselves. No, it’s not safe. We should probably be roped or at least have an ice axe with us. Of course, this occurred to us as we were leaving…..
The Arc’terix jacket you see me wearing was also an fantastic piece of equipment It withstood every type of weather thrown at us, from rain to snow to freezing rain to high winds and sand storms. It’s a fantastic piece of equipment. In fact, I recommend all their gear. It’s very well built and can take anything you want to throw at it. It’s probably -6C in this photograph, but I have had it in -19C with high winds without difficulty.
It’s not a well focused photograph, but my Danner boots were fantastic on this trip. You can see the wear the toes took during the trip, as they were clear when I started. These boots are waterproof and have 400gm of thinsulite insulation in them. My feet were never cold during this trip, even when standing around in brutally cold weather. They also kept their grip when climbing over lava rocks and other obstacles. I got socked twice while wearing these boots. Once while standing in a stream and not noticing the depth and once while being hit by a rogue wave at the beach. I yelled for everyone to get clear, but it broke over my knees quickly, so I stood still to keep my balance. Even socked, with my icebreaker wool socks, I was still warm and comfortable. Except for the fact that my feet were wet, there was no other problem. They dried overnight and were ready for the next day’s adventure.
I don’t have many photographs of them, but my icebreaker wool gear performed as expected in these conditions. Long underwear combined with wool briefs (why both you ask? Well one work “Chaffing”. If you’re maile wear both, trust me one this one). I also had gloves and a mid-layer. Icebreaker gear is warm, tough, and can handle anything you throw at it. It is well worth the money. BTW, in cold conditions DO NOT WEAR COTTON anything…
My canon 1Dx stood up to significant abuse, as we were exposed to cold, snow, rain, wind, and sand during this trip. As expected, it performed flawlessly and the more I use it the more impressed I am with it.
Iceland is a fascinating place that I intend to visit again. I think we managed to experience as much as possible during our 10 days of adventure, but like any good adventure, it left us all wanting more. I will close this blog post with some more shots of Iceland. These are all done with the iPhone, but I hope to have the serious landscape work online shortly.