Alright alright alright (in my best Matthew McConaughey voice). Let’s just jump straight into this one! Today, I am going to be sharing my photography setup for Iceland. I leave in about two weeks and I’ll be driving a portion of the infamous ring road. My very first thought when I booked this trip was, “what a photographer’s dream.” My next thought was, “what do I need to complete my setup?” And that’s when the Googling started.
*Please note that the images from this post are from my iPhone. Because you can’t take images of your camera, without your camera.
I am not a professional photographer by any means. I am a complete amateur that’s been taught by some really talented friends and learned everything else that I could on my own. As a child, I was always interested in Photography. I always took the family photos and always had a disposable camera handy during our family road trips. After I visited my first country in Europe when I was 16-years-old, I made a huge scrapbook of all the photos I took (none of which I am actually in because I was the family photographer). So essentially, I’ve always had an ‘eye’ and a creative fondness for taking pictures.
I started blogging in 2016 with a Sony point-and-shoot. After a year, I graduated to a Canon DSLR. I prefer Canon simply because I remember growing up with my mom’s old vintage Canon camera. It had a beautifully decorative strap, like something you would expect from the 70’s. The rest of the cameras in our family? All Canon. There was a point when I was around 19 or 20 that I got a Sony DSLR for my birthday. That was when Sony bought Minolta and started manufacturing DSLR’s. So before I got my Canon DSLR last January, I did have some experience using one.
My Previous Setup
- Canon Rebel T6i DSLR | $750 (refurbished, body only) – A seriously amazing starter camera under $1,000. A few years ago, you could typically get this camera with the lens kit for about $900. But, they’re even cheaper now! I’ve seen them from $550 – $750.
- 24mm Canon Lens | $130 – Great for content creation and flat lay photography. Just enough image in the shot! It’s such a versatile lens at it’s a great price. I would recommend this as your first lens.
- 50mm Canon Lens | $140 – Great for any kind of editorial work including fashion and food photography. This lens is known for getting those beautiful depth-of-field shots, where your background is blurred and the subject is in focus. Or, vice versa. A lot of fashion bloggers and foodies use this lens.
This was all I really needed to get by with my travel blogging this year and last year. I visited Copenhagen, Berlin, Dublin, London, and San Francisco (several times) with this gear.
These are the Biggest Things to Consider When Shooting in Iceland
As I started reading, I quickly realized that Iceland was going to be a different playground than I had ever experienced before. I am definitely a city girl in this regard. Even as a child, I was always fascinated more with buildings and architecture. Iceland presented some challenges; ones I had never before had to consider.
- Terrain – Hello lava rock? Iceland’s terrain is pretty all over the place. It didn’t cross my mind that the wind may kick up debris. Definitely had to start thinking about protecting my camera.
- Weather – Honestly, I live in Phoenix, Arizona. Rain and wind are pretty foreign occurrences to me. When shooting in Iceland, the unpredictable weather is definitely on the top of your mind and something you should be considering above all else.
- Lighting – It seems so obvious, but shooting outdoors didn’t really cross my mind until I saw everything recommending a lens hood for blocking the sun and glare. The sun will most likely become an issue if you’re there in the summer and not used to shooting outdoors. *Wink wink* to all you indoor flat lay creators (raises hand).
- Temperature – Your camera battery gets murdered in extreme temperatures. I had no idea that extreme cold could cause your battery to lose its juice much quicker.
- Space – Stories upon stories of people losing their SD cards or running out of storage space while in a remote part of Iceland had me shook. I knew I would need an extra SD card.
What I Needed for Iceland
Based on the research that I did and the above considerations that kept coming up over and over again, I decided to invest in a few new pieces of equipment for Iceland.
First and foremost, I knew I wanted a wide angle lens. You cannot go to Iceland without one. After about a year and eight months with my two trusty lenses, I was definitely due to treat myself and add to my setup. Iceland was the perfect time to do so.
Second, I also knew I would need UV filters to help protect my lenses against any rain or waterfall mist, and the occasional flying debris from the wind.
Lastly, I would need a lens hood, an extra SD card, and a backup battery.
My New Setup
- Canon T6i DSLR (product and pricing info above)
- 24mm Canon Lens (product and pricing info above)
- 50mm Canon Lens (product and pricing info above)
- 10mm – 18mm Canon Lens | $280 – Wide angle lens for landscape shooting in Iceland is a must. I spent $300, but it was the perfect time to do so and I knew I would regret it if I didn’t buy this lens for Iceland. I am super proud of the little kit I’ve built over time!
- 49mm Tiffen UV Protection Lens Filter | $8 – The 49mm fits on my 50mm lens. You would think that a filter and a lens would have the same millimeters, but they don’t. I used this lens to filter conversion chart to figure out what size filters I needed to get.
- 52mm AmazonBasics Protection Lens Filter | $6 – The 52mm fits on my 24mm lens.
- 67mm AmazonBasics Protection Lens Filter | $6 – The 67mm fits on my 10-18mm lens.
- Canon Lens Hood | $23 – A lot of people said you can get a generic lens hood for about half the cost. I decided to go with the Canon one just because I knew it would be good quality. To me, $23 wasn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things.
- Zecti Waterproof Professional Camera Bag | $65 – I knew I would need a professional camera bag for hiking around Iceland. I got one that was waterproof (a must) and had the option to customize the inside based on how many cameras and lenses you have. There are so many backpack choices on Amazon. Too many. Take it from someone who spent hours (HOURS) reading reviews. This one is really good.
- 64gb SD Card | $32 (I have 3 of these) – Purchased another SD card. I now have three of these 64bg SD cards. Never ever buy these at Best Buy. They are outrageously expensive. I bought mine at Target (linked) and they’re even cheaper on Amazon! *Insert slow, painful eye roll*
Things I Didn’t Buy
There are two things that everyone said to buy that I decided not to buy. One was a polarizing filter for capturing waterfalls at slow exposure (it takes the glare off of wet surfaces) and the other was a tripod. I would have used the tripod for grabbing those slow exposure shots where the water looks soft to the touch. But, since those shots don’t interest me much, I decided to forego the polarizer, and therefore, the tripod too. Personally, those silky smooth water shots are just not for me. They remind me of a Thomas Kinkade painting or something. It’s just not my thing. In the words of Drake, “gotta be real wit it.”
If, however, I was traveling alone, then I would have purchased a tripod to get some shots of myself. But I’m traveling with another friend who has a DSLR, so I didn’t see the need.
Total Amount Invested
Considering the quality of my camera and the range of lenses I now have, I think this is a pretty affordable investment so far. Photography isn’t cheap by any means. That’s why I’m an advocate for growing your setup as you grow as a photographer. Don’t buy everything all at once. Instead, invest in one or two lenses to start and work your way towards more. That’s exactly what I did.
Ready for Another Adventure
I hope you guys enjoyed this little run down of my photography setup for Iceland! This was in popular demand on Instagram and actually really fun to create. Sometimes I try to downplay my love of photography because it makes me feel slightly nerdy. I don’t know why, but it does. I also tend to downplay my knowledge and my natural talent (which I can’t believe I just said). But clearly it was time to create something like this.
I am totally open to any questions you guys still have about photography, travel photography, or travel blogging. Leave any questions or comments below. See you in a few weeks, Iceland!
Interested in learning how to edit like me? Here’s my Lightroom tutorial.