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.

My Background

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 Photography Setup for Iceland

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

My Photography Setup for Iceland

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*

My Photography Setup for Iceland

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

$1,504

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.

28 Comments

  1. This is such a great post! I loved reading about your photography setup for your Iceland trip. We’re part of the Canon family too, so it is great to learn more about what camera products you’ll be using. Also I’m loving the camera bag…looks perfect for outdoor adventures! I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the photos from your trip! 🙂

    http://roadesque.com

    Reply
  2. Definitely great investments – I am sure you’ll love the wide angle lens & extra SD cards & batteries are always a good idea. I had someone recently try to push a polarizer on me which I might buy in the future but I did not see the need for it either. A tripod might still be a good idea if you want to do shots in low light – capturing the stars at night or maybe a sunset. I have the Manfrotto beefree I think it is called and take it with me on most trips or maybe your friend has one that you can both use. Have a wonderful trip – very much looking forward to seeing your images!

    Reply
    1. Thanks Miriam! I don’t think I have enough patience for those things (tripod). I thought hard about if I would use it and photograph the stars or the lights, but I think I’m just gonna wing it without! It’s more of just personal style I guess. I don’t find that stuff as interesting to photograph!

      Author Reply
  3. I got a vision of Matthew McConaughey when I read alright alright alright!! 🙂 🙂
    I have also always been the picture taker… the “Memory Maker”… I drove all of my children crazy with all of my photography! I had planned on a trip to Iceland in February of this year, to see the Northern Lights again, but my son had back surgery and we were unable to go! So I am really looking forward to your photos!
    This is the thing for me? I had a big fancy camera, but I hated carrying that thing everywhere. Does it bother you to carry all of your gear around? Now I use a Samsung Galaxy Wi-Fi Camera. I think it takes great photos, and now I see they have a newer addition, I am thinking about an upgrade. So how do you feel about carrying your equipment when you travel?
    Tammy

    Reply
    1. Oh no! So sorry to hear that and I hope you son has since recovered. I think a lot of people are now buying the mirrorless cameras because the quality is just as good (actually I think it’s better) and they are sooo lightweight. It’s annoying to carr around for sure, but when I see the amazing images I get, I don’t mind it too much. I think now that I have a professional camera backpack that actually holds my camera properly, it will be a game changer!

      Author Reply
  4. Looks a lot like the setup we had over 4 years ago when we started to travel! And ours was also a Canon. You got the best, and, you don’t have to print them to see them, like we did. Good old Kodak film! ENJOY! It’s a great camera! Well, at least ours was!
    The Grandma. . . No .com!

    Reply
  5. I’ve always admired your photos so it’s really interesting to read about your history with photography! I didn’t know that the cold actually makes a difference to your battery, how weird! Despite having been to Iceland myself, I’m ridiculously looking forward to the photos you come back with!

    Musings & More

    Reply
    1. Thanks Em! I didn’t know that the cold made a difference either!! Kind of freaked out about that, because I decided to forego the extra battery personally, so save a little cash.

      Author Reply
  6. Oh Iceland sounds sooo exciting! I am sure it will be a photography paradise – especially with your awesome equipment. I think it’s always quite important to consider all the factors especially when you are traveling and you can’t go back to a place again. Your photos are going to be great for sure, can’t wait to see them.
    xx, Carmen – http://carmitive.com

    Reply
  7. Alright, alright, alright… I love this entry! I’ve always wondered about the equipment bloggers use to make their blogs shine! I use a Canon T6 which I bought as a package deal back last year; although, I’ve been wanting to upgrade up to a T7i if anything, maybe next year. I have the 24mm and 50mm lenses! I’m struggling with the 24mm though because sometimes I feel that the photos aren’t sharp enough or I’m just not using it correctly. Thanks for sharing this entry, Emily! Lovely read.

    cabin twenty-four

    Reply
    1. The 24mm is hard sometimes because it doesn’t focus on everything, especially if you are doing some sort of flatlay. So if you’re having trouble, try taking a step back and making sure that all items are close enough together that you can focus on them! I totally get what you’re saying. 😉

      Author Reply
  8. I’m really excited for your trip and cannot wait to see the pictures you take with your new images! Will you be posting on Instagram? I wish I had been in Iceland a lot longer to see all the waterfalls and black beach. I hope you have a blast!
    -PerlaGiselle | iamperlita.com

    P.S. I will be hosting a giftcard giveaway on my Instagram page soon! Let’s follow each other!
    instagram.com/iamperlita

    Reply
  9. Thanks for sharing. I’m just starting to get into photography a bit more and want to get my head around the best set up for a beginner so this info has been helpful!

    Reply

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