In This Blog
10 Items that Helped me in Iceland.
My Recommended YouTube Video of the Week.
Read Time: 9 Minutes
1 – Fjällräven Vidda Pro Trousers
I have a wealth of expensive outdoorsy jackets, a collection of hiking boots big enough to sustain an army, more rucksacks and camera bags than one man could ever need, but I have never invested in a good pair of trousers… until now.
I believe that if you spend any amount of time in the outdoors, you should own a pair of these trousers. They’re rugged and stylish and make me feel like a cross between Ray Mears and Ant Middleton. They’re comfortable, wind proof, water resistant and can be waxed to ensure complete waterproofness. They’re tough and sturdy. They’re practical with an abundance of pockets available for every gadget you could ever wish to carry.
I wore them every single day of my Iceland trip and the dirtier they got, the better they looked. You know how when you put on a nice suit, you want a splash of Hugo Boss aftershave to finish the job? Well, with these trousers I found myself wafting the smoke from a burning campfire all over my legs just so I would smell as good as I looked. Expect to see these trousers a lot on my YouTube channel in the future.
2 – Notebook and Pen.
I do not like the term ‘Journaling’. To me, it sounds pretentious. In the UK, we don’t really use the word journal. Just like we don’t use the word ‘trunk’ to describe a car boot or ‘fanny’ to describe someone’s bottom. It’s the same with the word journal. Here we would say ‘diary’ or simply ‘pen and paper’.
Suggesting to my working-class friends that they should ‘Journal’ would be met with the same cynicism as asking them if they fancy a flat white rather than a cup of coffee. Do you get me? So, let’s forget ‘Journaling’ and instead let’s say ‘writing stuff down’. Ahhh, that sounds so much better.
Writing stuff down is incredibly powerful. This is how I manage to produce unique and original videos week in, week out (Ok, they’re not all original, but where do you think I came up with the idea of making a landscape photography video that was audio only?). See that video here
On my road trip to Iceland, I was forever writing down ideas for videos, ideas for titles, keeping track of where I was up to with my filming, which sponsor was being assigned to which video, the release dates of those videos, ideas for newsletters, ideas for how I want my future to look… all sorts.
The notebook is practical as well as inspirational. I found myself starting with jotting a few notes about my day’s filming; “Make sure to get B-Roll of filters on lens” etc, but I soon found that I was pulling over on the side of the road to scribble down moments of inspiration that had hit me when daydreaming about lens cloths.
The notebook and pen combo is a way of spewing ideas out of my head and on to a page, which seems to then stimulate the further growth of that idea. Apps don’t work. I need pen and paper. I try to keep mine with me at all times, just in case that moment of inspiration hits, which is almost always when doing a monotonous task such as packing books or driving.
Seriously, try this: Get a nice little notebook and set aside 15 minutes in a completely silent and comfortable space (I like my van, parked somewhere nice) and just write stuff. Write ideas about photography projects, write YouTube video titles, write down lists of places you want to visit, write top ten lists of things that can benefit readers. Before you know it you will have enough content to start a YouTube channel, write a book or begin that photography project you never knew you had in you. And remember, it’s not journaling, it’s just writing stuff down ????.
3 – Photography Guidebook
A few years ago, my ego would not allow me to enjoy a good photography guidebook. I (wrongly) thought that it was cheating and that only the honey pot locations were included in such books.
Since then, I have realised they are a great resource. Nobody can expect to intimately know every area they visit with a camera, so a guidebook can help point you in the right direction when visiting a location for the first time and offer inspiration when stuck for ideas.
I have a collection of these pocket size books by Ellen Bowness. Highly Recommended. Here is an affiliate link to see the collection on Amazon.
4 – Scrubba Bag
When on the road for a long period of time, dirty laundry can begin to build up. My solution to this was simple: a Scrubba. This is a great thing to have when camping or travelling. It is a dry bag with an air valve and a washboard-like surface inside. Throw in a couple of items of clothing (a shirt and underpants) add warm water, a little detergent, scrub it for 3 minutes, rinse and your items are as fresh as a daisy.
I only took a handful of clothes with me to save on space, so used the Scrubba every few days and I can’t speak highly enough of it. Top tip: only wear fast drying, synthetic clothes. They wash and dry so easily. Chuck in a wooly jumper and you’ll regret it. Here is an Affiliate link to the Scrubba Bag.
5 – Padlock and Cable
Simple, cheap and effective camera security. I had no choice other than to leave lots of incredibly expensive camera gear in my van when out hiking, or simply popping to the shop to buy milk. Obviously, my van was locked and so was the internal storage cupboard in which my gear was stored, but still a thief could break in in seconds.
My last line of defence was a simple cable and padlock which would act as the final deterrent to the would-be thief. If someone was to gain access to my bags, they would grab and run only to find that the bags would be snagged. This gave me additional piece of mind when out and about.
6 – DJI Air 3
When filming a journey by yourself, you need automation in your life and the DJI Air 3 is like always having a drone pilot with you. The automation of this thing is incredible. During my road trip I was able to: launch the drone without ever worrying about battery life or ‘fly aways’, lock on to my van, place the controller out of sight and just drive. The drone would follow me every time and it would follow me well. There was no risk of object collision because of the many sensors on the drone. I could instruct the drone to follow me from certain angles, thus making for more dynamic footage.
I had 2 lenses to choose from: a 24mm equivalent wide and a 70mm equivalent long. The image quality has come along way and is quite frankly mind blowing. The remote control has a built in screen so I never have to faff on with my phone. The batteries are incredible and will last up to about 40 minutes. If all batteries are depleted to an unusable level, you can transfer the remaining power from 3 batteries in to 1 now usable battery.
The most impressive thing for me, however, was the photography from this thing. 48mp RAW files, an array of panoramic options, so steady it can shoot long exposures, 2 lenses to choose from. Honestly, for the price of a lens, this is a serious bit of kit. Here is an Affiliate link to the Air 3 Fly More Combo.
7 – Laptop case
This may seem like a trivial item, but whilst driving thousands of miles, editing hours of video and images on the road, I was constantly playing Tetris with all my kit in my tiny van.
This laptop case was appreciated more than it will ever know. It offers a reassuring amount of protection to my overpriced Macbook, which is good for when I shove it in the back of my van when leaving for a hike.
The laptop case also has space for my charging cable, 2 SSD drives and USB-C cables. This meant that I could keep everything I needed for an editing session in one easy to access place. Here is an Affiliate link to my Laptop case.
8 – Insta 360 X3
I have seen so many sponsored videos about this camera and it seems, in fact, that every single review video just happens to be sponsored by Insta 360. Hmmm… But, I trusted the reviews anyway and went ahead with the purchase, leaving a £500 hole in my pocket.
The main reason for this purchase was to save on ‘faffery’ when getting those in-vehicle driving shots. I wanted a one button system that I did not have to think twice about. The Insta 360 X3 met this brief perfectly. In one shot I can film myself ranting about the autobahn whilst simultaneously showing the traffic flying past at 130mph. I can film timelapses and pretty much capture anything that happens on my journey. It even has a ‘dashcam’ mode where it will record on a loop. This is great for making sure that you don’t miss anything exciting whilst on the road.
What nobody talks about in the reviews is the fact that all the ‘faffery’ you save whilst filming is simply transferred to the editing suite. The software has many bugs and the editing process is not smooth. I use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit my videos and the Insta 360 has a plug in, BUT you also have to use a GoPro plug-in to make it all work (It seems a bit cheeky that Ista360 recommend this to its customers rather than make their own). That’s 2 plug-ins.
Here are 3 examples of the bugs and faffery:
1 – Proxies do not work. Remember, you’re dealing with 6k video footage so if your computer is not a megatron, it might struggle. The solution: proxies. But, yeah, I’ve just mentioned, they don’t work. You create a proxy, edit the video, export the video and all the 360 clips are a car crash because the 360 framing has only been applied to the proxy files and not the actual 6k video files.
2 – The 360 camera produces 2 video files per clip, so it’s easy to get bogged down with a million video files, all with stupidly long file names.
3 – Key frames do not work when you apply Spatial Interpolation to anything other than point A to point B. If you try, the clip completely malfunctions and spins around a million times.
Insta 360 is a great tool, but it is far, far, FAR from perfect. Here is an Affiliate link to my 360 camera.
9 – Monopod
This is used for getting the most out of filming in a tight space such as my van. I used to use a tripod, but the footprint is far too large.
It made manoeuvring the camera difficult, I would often kick the tripod or inadvertently include one of the tripod legs in shot when filming with a wide lens.
With a monopod, the footprint is about 10x smaller. I am able to get so many camera angles which was not possible when using a tripod. If you film content in a small van, I highly recommend a monopod; below is the one I use, it’s great and I have included an affiliate link. However there are so many on the market to choose from. Just be sure that you get one with feet. Here is an Affiliate link to iFootage Monopod.
10 – A Misting Bottle
This is the least sexy item on the list, however when spending time off-grid in my van, this thing helps me keep on top of the washing up.
Instead of boiling the kettle and filling my washing up bowl with hot, soapy water, I would use my misting spray bottle. It contains soap and water and if used immediately, the soapy mist is enough to clean any dishes in a matter of seconds with little to no mess. I can’t stress this enough though, if you’re planning to use this method in your van, be sure to purchase a misting spray bottle, otherwise you will make a mess.
|My Recomended YouTube Video of the Week|
|Social Media Has Ruined Photography by Peter Mckinnon|
Then this video popped up and I to my surprise, it was an utterly thoughtful piece about the expectations we put on ourselves as photographers. Well worth a watch.