Packing for Iceland as a Photographer
Oct15

Packing for Iceland as a Photographer

I just did my packing for Iceland.  And, if you follow my YouTube channel pretty closely, you know how much I hate packing. It is the bane of my existence.  But, usually packing means throwing all my things in my suitcase and cleaning up a hotel room that I managed to destroy and in which scatter all my worldly possessions in a span of a couple days.  This time, I’m leaving a lot of things behind in Kent and packing a very small kit for Iceland. Of course, this following list of things I’m packing for Iceland is geared (pun intended) towards a photography kit.  But, honestly, I think that anyone can follow this packing list.  I think most people that travel to Iceland also pack a bunch of camera gear, even non-photographers. Still, this is primarily a packing list for photographer’s visiting Iceland. I’m not going to get all fancy with a lot of talk and text. I’m basically just going to list everything with some notes. Clothing Iceland is all about layers and staying dry. It’s also about keeping the wind off you.  In general, Iceland isn’t that cold (compared to Canada in the winter), but it can be dangerous because of the wind and rain.  So, my advice is to bring regular clothes with you. Then, bring a fleece or down jacket, and if you need it because it’s windy or rainy put a shell over it. Thus, my clothing list is pretty basic. Bring your regular clothes and then the following: Wind Resistant Trousers Wind and Rain Resistant Jacket Shell Water Resistant Gloves – I have some new Vellerret gloves that are built for photographers A wool hat Footwear Again, pack things for Iceland that are going to keep you dry and warm.  I suggest that you bring a pair of waterproof/resistant hiking shoes that you can wear for most situations.  Then, you might also want to pack gumboots for situations where you’re walking across rivers.  Photographers will definitely want rubber boots to get into rivers and creeks for photos.  Serious photographers might want to consider bringing hip waders. Bring lots of socks! You’ll be changing them more than you think. Camera Gear Obviously, everyone is different.  And, everyone’s kit is different. So, instead of listing what you should bring, I’ll list what I am bringing. This is my camera gear packing list for Iceland as a photographer: Camera Body = Canon 6d Lenses = Canon 16-35mm f/4, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8, Canon 50mm f/1.4, and Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Drone = Mavic Pro Video Camera = Sony a6300 with kit 16-50mm lens and Zhiyun Crane Gimbal...

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Some Thoughts on Kyrgyzstan
Sep10

Some Thoughts on Kyrgyzstan

This is my last post from Kyrgyzstan, and I really just wanted to get some thoughts on paper/web.  I think reflection is such an important thing to do, and I’m often so busy that I don’t have time to do it.  It’s now a month since I left Kyrgyzstan, and I’ve spent a day looking back on the trip and thinking about the country, and my experience.  I thought I’d sort them in a blog post. On Pre-Conceived Stereotypes I think it’s so hard to not think in stereotypes.  And, I think the idea of stereotypes is so often correlated with racism.  But, it’s really not.  I worried a lot during my stay in Kyrgyzstan that my pre-conceived ideas of the country made me a bit of a western-snob.  However, when I came home to Canada and thought of the stereotypes that others must imagine before coming to the country, I realized that it’s totally normal to imagine the stereotypes of the country to be a reality.  In fact, it’s so often what our tourism boards promote.  It’s no wonder that people think Canadians ride in dog sleds, live in igloos, and have bears in their backyard; that’s what we promote. I thought Kyrgyzstan was going to be wilder, more nomadic, and that everyone would be getting around on horseback.  Essentially, I thought Kyrgyzstan was going to be Mongolia.  And while it was free and wild, it was totally different, more developed, and more urban than I expected.  But, based on all the imagery of eagle hunters, nomads, and wild horses in the back country, it’s easy to assume that’s all there is in the country. But, there’s so much more. And that’s definitely not a bad thing. On Tourism in Kyrgyzstan The idea of tourism in Kyrgyzstan is interesting to me.  When I go on these projects that are meant to promote tourism to a destination, I’m always left wondering “but is it REALLY a viable tourism destination? Will people REALLY want to come here?”.  And, I think the answer is yes. But, there are some challenges for sure. One of the things I always look for in a tourism destination’s draw is does it have something iconic, or unique.  Brazil has Christ the Redeemer, Peru has Machu Picchu, and Cambodia has Angkor Wat, for example.  Iconic locations draw tourism in a massive way.  The growth in visibility of an iconic location can change tourism for an entire country; just look at what Machu Picchu has done for Peru’s tourism. I don’t think Kyrgyzstan has that. But, that doesn’t mean that Kyrgyzstan doesn’t have something unique.  I just...

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Best Photography Locations on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
Aug25

Best Photography Locations on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

There are few places in travel photography hotter right now than the Isle of Skye.  The Scottish Islands are popping with tourists as photographers have been reeling off beautiful images from some really cool locations recently.  This past week, I headed up to the Highlands of Scotland for a little bit of a scouting missing for a future assignment.  I only had limited time, but I was set on finding some of the best photography locations on the Isle of Skye.  And, luckily, I found loads of them.  These were my favourites. Old Man of Storr This is maybe the most iconic place on the whole of the Isle of Skye.  It’s just a wonderful photography location.  Landscape photographers will drool over the possibilities up here at the Old Man of Storr.  Essentially, this location is a series of pillar rock formations that stick out over the island.  A 30-40 minute hike gets you up to some perfect images. Note, though, that due to the geography of the location on the leeward side of some mountains, the weather can change quickly here.  We shot this location at sunset and alternated between getting epic light and hammered by rain. These are some of my favourite images from The Old Man of Storr: Info: How to Get There: There’s a parking lot about 15 minutes drive north of Portree. It’s easy to find.  From there, it’s a 30-40 minute hike to the view. I would guess it’s about 100-150m elevation gain. Parts of the hike are slippery, especially after rains. Best Time of Day: The location works for either sunrise or sunset. Gear: I shot my 16-35mm lens the whole time.  You’ll also likely want a nice set of filters.  I used these grad filters for my images. Fairy Pools Honestly, I didn’t really give the Fairy Pools much notice in my plans.  But, with so much extra time I thought they were probably worth checking out.  I’m glad I did.  Even though I didn’t photograph this location much, it’s cool.  And, I think that much of the imagery online is pretty weak considering it’s such a cool spot.  Like most of Scotland, we got hammered a bit by rain here, but still managed to take a photo.  And, I didn’t even photograph my favourite composition of the falls.  I think, though, I’ll come back here next time and shoot it at either sunrise or sunset. Info: How to Get There: The Fairy Pools look well off a road according to most maps. But, a single track will get you right to the edge of them. The turn off is signed...

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Tips for Photography in Kyrgyzstan: Locations, Gear, and More
Aug23

Tips for Photography in Kyrgyzstan: Locations, Gear, and More

Kyrgyzstan is actually a phenomenal place for photography. I knew that going in to my trip. From everything I’d seen and imagined about the central Asian country it was going to be a fun place to shoot. It’s wild, it’s open, there’s a nice mix of nature and culture, and it just looked like there was going to be interesting things to photograph every day. But, for everything I thought my trip to Kyrgyzstan was going to be, I didn’t really have any idea what sort of camera gear I would shoot, or what exactly I would shoot. So, I kind of just packed everything and prepared for it all. The Gear For Kyrgyzstan, I packed the following camera gear. I’ll also talk a bit about what gear I used the most next to each piece of equipment. Canon 6D – My main camera body. Sony a6300 – My vlogging camera. I also shot more photos on it than I normally do. GoPro Hero 5 – Used this a lot for time lapse and action stuff. DJI Phantom 4 Drone – I flew the drone almost daily. Canon 16-35mm lens f/4 – I shot this lens the most. It was handy for landscapes and for wide-angle portraits. Canon 50mm f/1/4 – Honestly, I don’t think I took a single photo on my 50mm the entire trip. Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 – I used this lens a lot too. Especially for capturing details of the landscapes and for the sporting events like Kok-Boru. Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 – I only used this lens for star photography. That said, I used it a lot. 3 Legged Thing Albert – My tripod got a lot of use. Joby Gorilla Pod – I used this more than I expect too. Filter system – If you’re shooting landscapes, you’re going to want your filters. Especially a 6-stop ND and a 3-stop medium grad ND. Extra Batteries – Since there’s times you will be out shooting in wild places, you’re going to want lots of batteries. A Powerbank – Came in so handy in charging my GoPro, Sony batteries, and phone. Photo Subjects One of the things that’s really great about photography in Kyrgyzstan is that there’s a pretty wild variety of things to take pictures of.  Sure, it might be best known for it’s landscapes and nature, but it’s also full of interesting characters, there’s some wildlife, and the cities that I saw were also quite photogenic.  I wanted to kind of break down the types of photos you might have the chance to shoot in Kyrgyzstan, and maybe clear some things up and cut some...

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Best Spot for Sunset Photography in Edinburgh
Aug20

Best Spot for Sunset Photography in Edinburgh

Today’s blog is quick.  There is still content coming from Kyrgyzstan, but I really wanted to share with you this sunset location in Edinburgh because it was killer.  I spent 4 or 5 days in Edinburgh a couple years ago, but somehow never made it up here.  I shot a lot of photography in the city, and it is one of the most photogenic cities in all of Europe, but somehow managed to miss the absolute best place to photograph the skyline at sunset. This is Carlton Hill: Honestly, when Jodie and I got to Edinburgh we were absoluately crushed.  It was a long night before as we didn’t have mats and had to sleep right on the cold floor in the Lake District.  And, after a long drive and a couple meetings with a client in the city, we were both just ready for an early night.  However, needing some content for my travel vlog, we forced ourselves out of our hotel and shot up Carlton Hill to photograph sunset.  Instantly leaving the hotel I felt better.  The city is just so stunning. And everywhere you look there’s a new photograph to be made.  And, it actually took a lot of self-control to just force ourselves up the hill to shoot only one location in Edinburgh. The light wasn’t brilliant, but it did work extremely well for the type of photo I wanted to shoot.  So, I thought I’d walk you through a set of my photos from this location in Edinburgh in today’s blog. Golden Light at Carlton Hill This photo wasn’t easy to make.  But, it wasn’t a challenge technically, or because the light was bad, but because there are so many people wandering around here at sunset that it’s hard to get a clean shot.  But, with a little patience it was totally worth it.  I took this image on my 70-200mm lens at f/6.3, 1/80sec., ISO500 @115mm.  The aperture was 6.3 because I wanted to blur the background enough to put the focus on Jodie, but keep it recognizable.  I love how it came out. Lucky Light I was waiting for the light to come down a little bit more, and it was getting a bit overcast in the sky, so I was kind of losing hope for nice light.  But, we were sitting up at this view and I noticed a bit of golden light hitting the rock you see Jodie sitting on in this photo.  So, I had her go out and pose there. Amazingly, the light moved up and hit her face. It was incredible, the only light in the entire...

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Drone Photography from Kyrgyzstan
Aug19

Drone Photography from Kyrgyzstan

It has been a while since I’ve been to a country with as much freedom to roam, explore, and fly drones as Kyrgyzstan.  The country is just so wide open that it’s really easy to fly.  It’s also very safe to fly.  And, of course, it’s really beautiful which is a bonus. Unfortunately, my drone is having issues. It needs to have the sensor, and maybe the whole camera repaired.  So, I wasn’t able to be as effective with the drone as I wanted to.  But, I still managed to capture some cool footage of the country. Oh, and if you’re curious, this is the drone I use. But, even though my equipment wasn’t perfect, I still wanted to share a couple aerial photos with you from my trip to Kyrgyzstan. There’s just something special to drone photography. It offers a different perspective. So, even though you’ve probably seen a lot of my images and my vlogs from the country, I wanted to share this different perspective, and the stories behind them all. Issyk-Kul Lake I had no idea that Kyrgyzstan had a lake that looked almost like a tropical sea at points. On the south side of Issyk-Kul lake, the shores are a bit rocky, but the water is so blue in points it looks like the waters of Croatia or Turkey.  It’s a very popular place for locals to vacation. This image is shot downward of a glacier-fed river entering the blue waters to give a sense of the contrast of colour in the blue waters. Bel-Tam Yurt Camp On one of my first days in Kyrgyzstan, we went to see a mini “Nomad Games” which was sponsored by USAID BGI and set up in part by the yurt camp I was staying at: Bel-Tam.  The games were awesome. They showcased eagle hunting, archery, and even dead goat polo (Kok-Boru).  I shot this image at the end of the games to show how diverse the landscape is in that location around Bel-Tam. You have the lake, almost a desert-like shoreline, and then the mountains in the background.  Only a drone photo can show the scale of it all like this.  This image doesn’t show the yurt camp itself (which is just down the hill in the front of the image), but the grounds for the nomad games. The Kyrgyz Wilderness After 2 days in Kyrgyzstan, I was already dying to see some of this Kyrgyz wilderness that everyone was talking about.  So, we headed off on an excursion into this beautiful gorge.  The only problem was that I forgot my camera’s SD card.  Luckily, I had the...

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