Iceland: Camera Kit and Photos

You’d be mad not to take a camera to Iceland. There are simply too many spectacular things to point one at.

The main thing to bear in mind is the sharp, insidious, volcanic dust.

We were “lucky” that it rained (and rained, and rained) and so had none blown at us.

At the end of the walk we met a French father and son who’d just completed a North to South trek that finished along our route (I imagine it was similar to Jonathan Ley’s).

They had walked through the tail-end of the hottest summer on record for Iceland and showed me a very nice lens that, despite precautions, had suffered from dust ingression and made a horrible grinding noise as you adjusted it.

We met many people who were carrying large, expensive cameras but in some cases only barely adequate waterproofing. You need to be able to submerge the camera without damage. Imagine dropping your pack if you stumble during a river crossing. And the rain often comes from all directions at once and will find its way up under the soft, padded lid of even the best Lowe Pro case.

The next time I will also consider taking something to shield the camera from rain and dust whilst in use. The OP Tech Rainsleeve looks very interesting.

The other issue was batteries. One of us actually ran out before the end of the walk which was frustrating since we had lots of spare batteries between us but none that fitted his camera.

The EOS 400D that I use lasted roughly three days or more on a single battery whilst I knocked off around 600 frames during that time. The main thing to bear in mind is that there is simply nowhere to charge them on this route.

The one thing I very much regret was not carrying the extra weight of a proper tripod. Balancing the camera on top of the pack helped but it’s no substitute of course.

I’m considering a Gitzo Mountaineer but the extra weight is almost as frightening as the price (bear in mind that it also needs a head to actually attach the camera – thereby increasing the weight, and price).

But, never mind the kit -what about the pictures?

Here’s a very small selection of the pictures that LB and I took on the trip.

2008 08 Iceland Fast Forward

Or if you prefer, a slightly larger set (which includes all the above).

08 Iceland

Iceland: Magic moments

Iceland is a place that you should make some time to visit. I’ve been writing up up a few entries on aspects of the trip itself and how the gear used on the trip worked out. I’d have liked to have done this sooner but many more pressing but less interesting things got in the way!

But first I thought I’d share a handful of the magic moments that I enjoyed whilst walking across part of one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever been to.

Bear in mind that we had horrendous rain for most of the walk itself. Despite that, it was… magic.

Magic moments in Iceland

Watching fumaroles from the tent and seeing Strokkur spout as we picked plump blueberries above Geysir.

Finding myself announcing to a bus load of people that the bus had just broken down and we were stuck (the driver had told me after I was the only one to follow him outside to see where the smoke was coming from).

Taking off – literally, all four wheels of a full size bus, three times when the driver of the replacement bus completely overdid it on a very, very bumpy stretch of “road” across a lava field. The look on his face was quite something.

Sitting in a naturally hot stream, looking out at the mountains sipping Macallan Elegancia from a Platybottle.

Sharing samples of dried food with other hikers in a hut as the snow billowed outside.

Waking at dawn to find the clouds breaking across snow covered mountains with steaming fumaroles hissing all around.

Topping-out a ridge, above a wild-camp, to get a stunning view of by far the largest glacier that any of us had ever seen. There was far more of it visible from our vantage point than there was from the main trail.

Watching clouds roll across the lime-green, moss covered black peaks all around us from the same ridge and feeling like it was a set from Lord of the Rings.

Sharing a quick nip of the Macallan after crossing a freezing, rushing, dark, silty river in the pouring rain.

Watching an arctic fox, in its summer coat but with a white brush, pick its way up a steep, 10 meter high bank, knocking stones back into the glacier fed river that we were about to cross.

Seeing the first trees we’d laid eyes on for seven days. It was oddly wonderful. I’d missed them far more than I had expected or realised. We all found ourselves grinning at them.

Coming down the path next to Skógafoss as it thundered its way down beside us.

Sitting in a camp site at the foot of Skógafoss, at the end of the walk, sharing Harðfiskur and whiskey with a French father and son who’d just walked the North to South, finishing along our route. They were inspiring. It made me wonder about doing the same.

Pictures next…

We’re back – and I’m developing images. A lot.

Mini-TMB-Sep-2008-12-small

Well we came back from Iceland. And then LB’s folks were over for a few days for her graduation from her Master’s Degree (Distinction – well done LB!) in Scandinavian Translation from UCL.

Then we were off again for a very few days on part of the TMB that LB hadn’t done. Where I did the whole one-knee-with-a-ring thing on a snowy balcony of my favourite Alpine hut – the Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme. It came as no surprise to her, we’ve been planning the party for months (and the honeymoon for longer – the GR5). And she didn’t even want a ring. But I thought what the heck…

And then we were back again to more work (it does rather get in the way doesn’t it?) and trying to get all the gear packed away at last – before going off for a weekend in my old friend and ex-business partner’s huge house and swimming pool. Which always has me grinning because we met as a couple of sixteen year-olds on the Royal Park’s Apprenticeship scheme. Who then would have guessed where we’d end up?

Well – we did guess to be honest but only he was completely right. It didn’t just “happen” though. It took a lot of work to get there. We started out in business together but after a few years I chose the more standard university/career route whilst he continued the running-a-firm route. We both have our regrets but at the same time are also both happy.

And then – there was still no time for blog entries as I had thousands (literally) of images to sort through and develop. And that really does take time!

But I will write up the Iceland trip (and in fact have started) – I promise!

But with all the time I’ve spent developing the RAW files, I’ve created a nice “workflow” (as the pro’s call it). So I thought I’d write it down. And then I found myself wishing that someone else had written it down as they would have saved me hours of working it out. Sure, there’s a manual that describes all the tools in Capture One but I wanted a quick recipe.

UPDATE: I no longer use Capture One – Adobe Lightroom 2 has completely out-classed it. There’s no contest between them for me!

So, for anyone who’s using Capture One 4 this might be helpful (and I’d very much welcome comments from anyone that is). But for anyone else, I’m quite sure this will be of no interest – sorry!

Note that if I wasn’t taking RAW, I’d only be using Picasa. In fact I do use Picasa as my “photo library” tool for all the results of my developing and all the images LB takes. She doesn’t take RAW. She has better things to do with her time.

So RAW development in Capture One 4: This is the way I work. There may be better ways, I may yet find them, but as of today this is it.

Although the following looks very long winded when written out, it’s far faster in reality!
Continue reading “We’re back – and I’m developing images. A lot.”