Dec 292012

Bag’s All Packed… well, camera gear at least

I dedicated a good part of today, one day before flying out, figuring out how to fit my camera gear into my brand new F-stop camera bag. At first glance, it’s a pretty awesome pack. They’ve designed a proper backpackers backpack you could hike with all day and fit space for camera gear inside. When I started packing however, I quickly became frustrated. It could barely take anything! I kept thinking, on their website they had loads of lenses, bodies and flashes all fit in. I kept trying. I even started considering which lenses to jettison. Eventually, after pulling out all of the dividers to try to come up with my own system, then forgetting how to put them back in, I logged onto the F-stop website. That’s when the words “those bastards” entered my mind. They’d cleverly removed all of the lens hoods from their lenses in their examples. Fortunately my fury was short-lived. I soon discovered that my lens hoods nest together quite neatly and fit in the handy upper compartment of the bag. Once I’d done this I had acres of space and numerous interesting configurations to play with.

Packed F-stop camera bag

Ready to go… just need clothes

For this trip, I wanted to keep my telephoto lens on my 7d-Mk II, ready for action, should a lion, penguin or whale shark cross my path, unannounced (it sounds like a joke, but I’m likely to see all three on this journey). I figured out I could lay it across the bottom of the pack. For a moment I tried to lay it across the top to keep it really handy, but the opening tapers at the top so this was not an option. With the 7d plus 70-200mm lens across the bottom of the pack I fit in the rest of my gear, lenses and bodies all separate. I sat back, pleased with myself. I even took a photo and sent it to my friend, who didn’t respond, funnily enough it was only exciting to me. Then, I changed my mind. One camera and lens ready to go wasn’t enough, I wanted my 5d-Mk II to fit with a lens attached as well. I don’t want to have to break it down every time I put it away. So, I settled on the configuration photographed to the right. There’s a startling amount of stuff in the bag, and I still have space in the top compartment.

I’ll write  a fuller review of this bag after I get back from my first trip, but for the moment I’m pretty happy with it, despite my initial frustration. I’ll also keep you posted if I have an issues with it on a day to day basis as I travel around Southern Africa.

 Today’s Photo: Icelandic Horses, Up Close!

I love these Icelandic horses, and if I go back this year. I’ll be spending a night in a field just trying to get photos of these guys under the midnight sun. I never really put any time into photographing these horses when I was there last time. We came across this pair on our way back to the hostel. I was with my friend, who’s a vet. This is an important point because as I hopped out the car she said, in all her vet-ly wisdom, “You better be quick ‘cos they’ll run away from you. You’ll never get close to them.”

Me taking a photo of 3 icelandic horses through a wire fence

Johnny Peacock: Better Horse-Whisperer than Charlotte

Little did she know that all animals love me, including cats, which I’m allergic to. As this photo shows, she soon ate her words. As soon as I walked up to the fence the horses trotted right over and began striking poses.

I’m visiting her in Africa soon and I’m hoping that, this time, any large animals we encounter there, particularly the cats, will be more attracted to her than me!

If you’re wondering why I’m not wearing socks, it’s because my feet hurt and I was riding back barefoot, to let them air out. When we stopped I just pulled on a pair of sneakers I had in the trunk.

Tonight’s photo wasn’t taken from the angle you see there, though I think that may be gracing your computer screen soon. I took this shot shortly after the horses came over. These two seemed inseparable. The dark one lead the way and the tan one followed along. They stopped for a little cuddle right in front of me and I fired away. I’m not really happy with this photo. I’d have liked it if their heads were a bit closer together and if I hadn’t cut off their hooves. But, I did a quick preparation of all the photos I have left to work on while traveling and discovered that, including those I’m not quite happy with, I only have 26 left!! I’m going to have to be pretty active on my stopover in London and my three weeks in Cape Town, Mozambique, Zambia, and possibly either Botswana or Namibia to make sure I get enough quality shots to keep me going until my next trip!

Close up of dark brown and tan small Icelandic horses.

Dec 062012

We had a jeep that could take us to explore this trail that we found near the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. What an adventure this trail could have been. Unfortunately, it was behind a locked gate so I had to be content with snapping a shot of the flowers and moving on. We found a dirt track later where we could drive right through the fields. Half way down the road we stopped and took photos. Then, climbed up on top of our jeep, cuddled up and watched the clouds roll by… until another jeep rolled past and looked at us funny.

Trail through wildflower field of purple lupins (lupine) reaching to the mountains in Iceland

Jul 152012

This is the first photo I took in Iceland. My flight was scheduled to get in at midnight and was delayed by half an hour. It was torture as we approached because I could see the sun was setting. I knew it would be light all night, but the sunset was incredible. It felt like it took forever to get through immigration, get my bag and make my way to the guesthouse. I didn’t spend long in the room as I quickly broke out my gear and took off… successfully leaving my tripod in the room. Fortunately my travel buddy offered to run back and get it while I looked for a shot. I think it was technically sunrise when I took this shot and the color had died down a bit. As you can see it was really windy. Rather than trying to freeze the flowers (which may have been impossible) I decided to increase my f-stop and let them get as blurry as possible.   Field of white flowers blowing in the wind with a lighthouse, boat and buildings in a row with clouds and sunset in Iceland.

Jul 082012

If you have a 3 hour drive to make in Iceland it’s probably a good idea to assume that you’ll take 7-8 hours to get where you’re going. Not because of traffic or the roads. There’s very little traffic, and although the roads do get a bit rough from time to time you can generally keep your pace up. The problem is that Iceland is incredible. You’re guaranteed to find lots of places to stop that you had no idea existed. This is what happened in the case of today’s photo. We had already pushed our check-in to the apartment we had in Reykjavik back by 3 hours and were just going to make it on time. Then we entered a field of flowers. We drove through them arguing over whether the big rock rising out of them was an island just off shore or on land. It was on land (I was right :-)).  I knew that we were pressed for time but I couldn’t resist pulling down the dirt road to catch some photos of this giant field of flowers. Following taking a few photos, and shooting a time lapse we climbed up on top of the jeep and just sat there for a while. Then we called the owner of the apartment and told him we were going to be even later. We didn’t drive all the way down the dirt road. I like to imagine there’s a campground at the end because when I go back next June I want to spend a couple of nights here.

Field of purple flowers, lupines, with a large moss covered rock behind in Iceland.

Jun 292012

After failing to reach the giant bird-cliff at Latrabjarg we were making our way back to the hostel. I stumbled upon this scene. Three identical looking horses hanging about a ruin in front of a shack. It was definitely time to make a stop. My travel buddy was a large animal vet who had been trying to catch some sleep on the drive back. She didn’t mind getting woken up for these guys though.

Icelandic horses are pretty incredible. They’re little stout things but incredibly photogenic with rugged coats and flowing manes. You could probably spend all of your time in Iceland photographing just the horses. There were a number of fields full of horses I could see myself spending hours at if I had more time. I’m hoping to spend all of June in Iceland next year. If I do get to do that I’ll definitely spend a lot of time hopping fences for closeups of Icelandic horses.

Three Icelandic horses hanging about a ruin in front of a shack with water and a rocky grass covered hill.

May 042012

Scenes like this are common place as you drive through Grey County. As I crested the top of a hill I came across this one. The sun was low to the left and just lit the scene in a beautiful golden light. So, I quickly whipped the car around to park at the top of the hill.

Grey County, Ontario farm with silo and red barns and wire and post fence.