Sometimes when you’re stuck in a rut, going to work everyday and sitting at home indoors every evening you feel like you need an adventure. That’s why S and I planned a trip for her birthday: to climb one of the highest Peaks in the UK, Mount Snowdon. Other than brown willy in sunny Cornwall we haven’t really Had experience with climbing and especially not in the winter So it was going to be interesting whether it went well or not!!
We set off early in the morning with a car packed full of bags (and camera gear!) ready for our stay in an amazing cottage that we found on airbnb last minute.
The seven hour drive went reasonably fast, even though we had to take a detour from the motorway. Although this just meant we got to see even more of the beautiful welsh countryside. As we drove on, and the mountains came into sight I was stunned by just how beautiful North wales and the National Park of Snowdonia was, and had a hard job keeping my eyes on the road with such incredible vistas around me! I even had to get out of the car to take some snaps!
On the way we stopped off at supermarket can get some food and provisions for the climb and the couple of nights stay, including some birthday treats for S! Steak for dinner tomorrow! By the time we reached the Cottage we were under the cover of night and had to rush through the rain to get all of our bags indoors – The weather didn’t look great for the climb! Once in, we were pleased to see a giant log burner aga fireplace, and didn’t take long to get it set up and make ourselves a tea. We didn’t stay up long as we had a mountain to climb tomorrow!
Today I’ll discuss the matter of tripods, and how they fit with travel photography. Tripod come in a variety of shapes and sizes, made with various materials and with heads for various needs – but do we need them when travelling?
As with many things in photography – it depends!
What and where will you be shooting?
If you’re shooting street photography in Barcelona for example – you’re going to want to travel light and not draw attention to all your gear. You’ll likely want a small perhaps mirrorless camera, and a single small lens with it. And that’s all!
Personally when I’m going into cities and travelling light, I rely on just a small compact and shoot handheld (resulting in the shots above).
However you’re at the mercy of light! If it starts getting darker, your shutter time will increase, leading to blurry images! make sure you’re shooting at a high shutter speed if you want to go hand held! it really depends on your lens, and whether you have image stabilisation, but if you stick to 100th of a second you shouldn’t go wrong! As you get lower, your shot time will get higher, so think about trading it off for a higher ISO. grainy pictures are better than unusable blurry pictures any day.
Another bonus to shooting handheld is not having to worry about taking your tripod on the plane! Although these days, with newer carbon fiber technology you could buy a very small lightweight tripod for perfectly still images if you’d rather plan your shots out in advance.
If however you’re planning on taking long exposure shots or beautiful planned-out spanning landscapes at sunset – you’ll need a tripod, no matter what.You’ll need to have a higher aperture to keep everything in the image sharp, and you’ll want minimal camera shake. None at all if possible. The less light you’re dealing with – the higher likelihood you’ll want a tripod. Especially if you’re planning night shoots. But you always have to think about how possible it is! If you’re hiking for a long way you’ll need a smaller lighter tripod – but if you’re near transport and you don’t have to carry it far, a more sturdy tripod is preferred.
It’s always a trade off between stability and maneuverability. You need to pick what’s most important to you in each situation!
If you’re taking the time to travel and hike in the great outdoors, why stop there? Wild camping is legal in some of the most beautiful places on earth, (Please check before you go!) and is the best way to be ‘one with nature’. You get to experience the outdoors, and take a break from everyday life to make a small trip into an adventure!
Of course things can go wrong, so you should always plan for the worst and pack accordingly! I met someone the other day whose tent broke on day three of a seven day trip, but he said it was the most fun he’s ever had! Ideally we want to avoid anything going wrong – so here’s my list for wild camping survival!
A Good Wild Camp Tent
You don’t want to go out in the wilderness with a pop-up festival tent!
Although it might be easier to pitch and put away, not only will it be awkward to carry as you hike, but it won’t be as windproof or rainproof as you might prefer!
If you’re hiking in unpredictable weather it’s important you bring a tent that’s waterproof, and made in a way that lets wind flow over it. You don’t want to wake up with your pegs ripped up and the tent blowing down a hill whilst you’re soaked through!
You’ll also want to make sure it’s easy to carry – lighter and smaller is better, so don’t pack a tent for more people than you need!
Another important factor is that you’ll want to “leave no trace” when camping – so you may want something brown or green, to blend in with your environment – rather than bright colours that stick out like a sore thumb! (keep in mind that In some cases, a bright tent may be preferable. If you’re camping in potentially dangerous conditions it’s good to be seen!)
A Warm Sleeping Bag
It goes without saying that a good sleeping bag will be the difference between a good and a terrible night’s sleep! You may want to pack light, but trust me, you’ll be fine with extra weight if it means you’ll be warm at night! “better safe than sorry” rings true here. Make sure the sleeping bag is rated at a comfort level that reflects the conditions you’re in, and remember the extreme conditions rating is exactly that! At that point, it’s not about getting a good night’s sleep but about staying alive!
If you can afford it, you ideally want a 100% goose down sleeping bag that will keep you warm, as well as being light and packing down easily. Down is a little out of our price range, so S and I have just bought the Mountain Warehouse Microlite 1400 for our wild camp trip in scotland. Although it’s quite large, it’ll keep us warm at night. The last thing you need when camping is a lack of sleep!
A good GPS can be a godsend – they’re loaded with trail maps that show you the correct direction on the fly, so you won’t need to worry about getting lost! They’re also a nice way to track where you’ve been and keep a record of previous hikes.
Unfortunately, as much of a tech-geek as I am, I cannot recommend you rely on your GPS alone! They can run out of battery, and leave you stranded with no idea where you are! So if you’re planning on a longer hike, make sure you always take a physical map and compass, and that you know exactly how to use them! Always keep an eye on your surroundings and pay attention to landmarks so you can find your way back if you need to.
If you’re out in the wild for a while, you need to make sure you take a gas burner, to boil water and to heat food. You need to keep your energy levels high with good, warm food, and make sure you boil any water you find as well as purifying it. Starting a fire in the wild is not advised, and is often illegal so make sure you take your own source of heat!
Recently S and I have had an obsession with cold countries and harsh climates – there’s something about the rush of a mountain in the snow that really makes you feel alive, and the beauty is breathtaking!
So here’s a list (in no particular order) of places that have taken our breath away recently:
From the incredible Perito Moreno Glacier, shown above, to the famous Torres Del Paine below, Patagonia is a place so incredible that an outdoor activity company use the name! I don’t think we’ll be short of mountains to climb and photos to take when S and I eventually save up to go! The landscape looks so beautiful, untouched and savage – I can’t wait!
Another South American destination, Peru is the home of the Andes. Combining Towering peaks with hauntingly bleak high altitude deserts, I’ve always been drawn to peru’s beautiful landscapes and stretching shorelines.
Perhaps not anyone’s ‘normal’ break away, but for adventure, it doesn’t get much better than the arctic climate of Greenland. I recently watched ‘Chasing Ice’ on netflix and couldn’t help but marvel over the amazing sculptures created by nature, as far as the eye can see. One day I want to be delivered to the middle of a glacier by helicopter just to document this beauty!
The home of Everest, and a no-brainer for mountain lovers! There’s so much to see here other than the World’s highest point. I’d love to explore nature and get stuck into climbing here, chasing that perfect image in a place where peaks are everywhere!
A little more relaxed for the end of the list, I’d always wanted to stay in thailand for a while and just.. chill! Who am I kidding – I’d definitely bring my camera and go north to Chiang Mai to check out the incredible national parks in the area. But this time, I’d like to stay warm!