Would you like to walk a mile in my shoes?

Would you like to walk a mile in my shoes?  Well walking a mile in my shoes is something you wouldn't really have wanted to do at the end of my Iceland trip. Sadly my Kathmandu Tiger NGX boots bit the dust literally!!!

After a good period of service I destroyed the stitching due to scuffing on rocks,  shale, volcanic rock,  gravel,  sand,  snow and salt water.  The toe rubber capping was coming off and had ripped. The ankle supports were loose and the leather perished. They'd been everywhere, deserts, tundra, fjords, snow capped mountains, glaciers, lakes and beaches and they served me well.

So it's out with the old Kathmandu Tiber NGX and in with the new Scarpa Kinesis Pro hiking boots.
Scarpa Kinesis Pro

Scarpa Kinesis Pro

These new boots are unbelievably comfortable. The lining on these boots is very well padded and feel great around the ankle and heel.

They are a stiff boot with great ankle support which is what I prefer when out on the trails.  Stability is paramount when on unstable ground and far away from town.  I'd rather not be trying to carry camera and hiking gear back to the 4WD, or town, whilst nursing a sprained ankle.

They're not a light boot by any means but that said their weight is very reasonable for a durable leather boot of this height and support.

I'm really looking forward to breaking in these new Scarpa Kinesis Pro hiking boots on some training hikes over the next few weeks before I fly out to Ushuaia at the end of the month.

A big thank you goes out to the lovely and ever helpful staff at Paddy Pallin ( http://www.paddypallin.com.au)  who, once again, have provided unparalleled service. Trying on four different boot models in a variety of sizes,  test walking on flat ground and up/down a ramp ensured I got the right boot with the right fit. When they didn't have the right size in stock in the model I wanted they rang around their other stores on the spot and secured me a pair of boots.

Most important of all, it saw me leaving a very happy customer with the right hiking boots for the job.

Testimonial from Di East – Jewels of the Arctic Expedition 2014

Testimonial from Di East - Jewels of the Arctic Expedition 2014

"I recently had the most awesome experience of joining the Jewels of the Arctic trip aboard the Polar Pioneer from Iceland through the fjords of Greenland and up to Svalbard in the Arctic Circle.  I had high expectations for this trip and one of my aims was to improve my photography skills.
 
Before the trip I received detailed and accurate information regarding the recommended equipment as well as instructions on how to care for it in the Arctic environment.  Although my knowledge of digital photography was limited to using the ‘Auto’ button, with the help of photographer Antony Watson, I disembarked at Svalbard feeling confident in finding my way around both my Canon DSLR and Adobe Lightroom software.
 
Antony was untiring in his willingness to answer all of my questions as well as in offering suggestions for new and better techniques.  He seemed to have a working knowledge of just about every camera on the ship and solved most camera issues quickly.  His knowledge of photography is outstanding and he could be seen at all times of the day or night discussing photography with both the amateurs like myself and the more experienced photographers amongst the passengers.
 
All in all, Antony contributed greatly to making my trip a major success and one of the most amazing two weeks of my life.All aspects of the trip surpassed my expectations." Di East
Jewels of the Arctic Brochure

Jewels of the Arctic 2015 Brochure and Itinerary is now available

Its with great pleasure that I can announce the availability of the brochure for the Jewels of the Arctic 2015 Photography Expedition. This brochure shows just a few of the amazing visuals available to photographers on this expedition. Click on the picture below to view the new brochure.  
Jewels of the Arctic Brochure

Jewels of the Arctic Brochure

The new brochure is also available here.

Tips for overcoming Jet Lag

I've just arrived home after another successful Photography Expedition into the Arctic with another wonderful case of Jet Lag!  (look for my trip report for Jewels of the Arctic 2014 coming in the net few days) Jet Lag is something that effects us all. No matter how much you travel, jet lag is just plain hard to tame. And as an added bonus, the older you get the harder Jet Lag hits you. Feelings of dizziness, stomach upset, fuzziness, inability to compute and deep fatigue are common symptoms.     So here are some quick tips for overcoming Jet Lag!  

Prepare for Jet Lag!

  • start adjusting your sleep hours for your target timezone a few days before departing. Reset your watch once you're on the plane and adjust your sleep cycles accordingly!
  • drink lots of water prior and during your flight. Aeroplanes are dry places. Keep those fluids up!
  • avoid alcohol!
  • eat lightly! Lets face it airline food is pretty terrible so don't eat too much of it
    A little preparation goes a long way and can really help reduce the symptoms of Jet Lag.  So make sure you make the effort if time and your schedule permits!  

How to overcome Jet Lag as quickly as possible

 
  • stick to the hours of your new arrived in time zone!

  • day naps are OK but keep them to 30 minutes max!

  • keep hydrated

  • get some natural sunlight.  Later in the morning and the afternoon are better than early morning sunlight

  • keep up the multi-vitamins!

    Jet Lag hits us all to varying degrees.  You really just need to keep at it. It can last from 1 day to a week.      

Supplements

 
  • melatonin hormone can be used to help get your circadian rhythm back on track

  • other medications are available to help you sleep and stay awake

    Whilst supplements won't 'cure' Jet Lag they'll definitely help alleviate some of the symptoms of Jet Lag.       After travelling from one end of the planet to another and a timezone shift of 10 hrs.  Jet Lag has knocked me out once again but as I sit here looking through the frames I shot whilst on this last Photography Expedition I can't hold back the smiles that keep on coming ... between yawns that is!

Landmannalugar Iceland

Casting off for Jewels of the Arctic

The time has come to cast off for Jewels of the Arctic.  I sit here writing this post from a hotel in Reykjavik after spending 2 weeks travelling to select locations in Iceland with my good friend and colleague Joshua Holko.  Two weeks of immense beauty and amazing light.  

Landmannalugar stands out as my favourite location in Iceland if I had to pick any one place. The light was absolutely amazing and the location is simply stunning.

Landmannalugar Iceland  

Now as I take a pause to catch up on correspondence, to talk to my family and repack my gear for the next expedition its hard not to feel a little trepidation along with the building excitement.  Two weeks discovering the East Coast of Greenland, Scoresby Sund, Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, up to the Polar ice pack and across to Svalbard is something I look so forward to every year. The ounce of trepidation I feel is for the escalating geological activity with the Bárðarbunga Volcano that we patiently observed for a number of days whilst here in Iceland.  The most recent seismic activity report lists 2002 tremors within the last 48hrs.  

As much as it would have been ideal to have an eruption to shoot whilst here in Iceland, I have a gut feeling it will erupt whilst we're out at sea and incommunicado over the next two weeks.  

Putting the Photographer in me aside, a part of trepidation is the effect such an eruption will have on the landscape and people of Iceland.  The Bárðarbunga Volcano is ten times the size of the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano that erupted in 2010 and is under 700m of ice.  The devastation of a massive eruption will be unfathomable; both the physical and financial.  

For me now the focus is on the Jewels of the Arctic Photography Expedition ahead to ensure our clients and ourselves have another amazing Arctic experience.  

 

Travel Insurance and delayed luggage

I've always been an advocate of travel insurance. Actually its mandatory for any one participating in my expeditions.   As I've said in the past, travel insurance can be the difference between having an unfortunate event on an expedition and having an unfortunate event with a big bill!   For me, this is the first time I've had to claim on travel insurance and to be honest I've been left a bit out of pocket.  Travelling to Iceland for 2 weeks of camping in the Highlands and then onto the fjords of Greenland and Svalbard meant I had packed a lot of cold climate and wet weather gear.  To cut a long story short, I arrived in Keflavik, Iceland but my luggage didn't.   Delayed luggage happens. And it happens more than you think.  Normally it arrives a  few days after you.  Sadly for me, my luggage went AWOL.  The airlines could only tell me it was lost somewhere between Qatar and Oslo.   Given that I had a schedule for my trip, I couldn't sit around waiting for luggage so I had to buy the gear I needed and borrow from a friend that which he had available. I didn't go out and buy expedition class gear as I expected my luggage could arrive anytime soon.  Upon calling my insurance company I soon realised I was only covered for $500 of delayed luggage allowance.  $500 doesn't go far.  Actually a good outer shell jacket is $500.  And then theres pants, an insulated jacket, undergarments, thermals, gloves etc etc.   After waiting 2 days only to be told the airline had no idea where my luggage was, I got out the credit card and started shopping.  My bill for even for mediocre wet weather garments, thermals, wind stopper, tops etc well and truly exceeded by insurance allowance by 200%.  If I couldn't have borrowed a sleeping bag I'd be up for another $500.   Be sure you check what your travel insurance does and doesn't cover especially with regards to delayed luggage allowances.   If you're travelling to South Georgia and Antarctica or Jewels of the Arctic, the ship will not wait for your delayed luggage (or mine).  You'll need to buy new gear for your expedition at local prices as it is impossible to travel without the right gear unless you intend to sit on the bridge for 2-3 weeks.   Iceland is far from reasonable with regards to pricing whilst Svalbard is bordering on obscene whilst insurance allowances depending on your insurance, may leave you significantly out of pocket.   When purchasing travel insurance make sure:
  • the delayed luggage coverage meets your needs if you need to buy gear

  • fly in early and give yourself a few days leeway and absorb some local culture for a few days before commencing an expedition

  By doing the above two steps you could avoid being significantly out of pocket and without the gear you need for your expedition.   I've been informed by the airline baggage service than my luggage has been found 9 days later. It has an incorrect airline tag, it had been taken by someone who had mistaken my bag for theres and has been returned to the airport.  Minus a padlock and minus my luggage tag with my contact details but luckily the airline found one of my business cards inside and called me.   As to what remains of the contents of my bag its yet to be seen....

Packing Camera Gear for Iceland and Jewels of the Arctic

Once again I am packing camera gear for an expedition.  At times I do wonder if I should leave my bags packed and not bother unpacking them!   This time I'm packing camera gear for a personal two week 4WD and camping photography expedition in Iceland  followed by a two week  photography expedition with clients into the Arctic Circle up the East Coast of Greenland to the Polar ice pack and across to Svalbard.   Being two distinctly different styles of expeditions has meant I've had to pack quite a lot of extra equipment.   First and foremost is camping gear.  Camping out for 2 weeks in a tent means I'm packing things like bedrolls, sleeping bags, thermal bag liners and other camping goodies.  Luckily my travel companion has sourced a lot of camping equipment locally from a friend negating the need to pack all things camping.  Thank goodness as my excess luggage is already excessive!!! Being out in the field for days on end we've got an Inverter in the 4WD which ensures we have electricity available to use for charging batteries, power laptops etc when we return to our 4WD and tents to sleep. That said, we'll be day hiking to quite a few locations where our trusty suped-up 'Iceland style' 4WD just can't go which will see me out in the field for extended periods of time, so I'm loading up on the batteries.  Whilst I may not use all the batteries I'm packing in a day, with the long charging time of the batteries I do have, I figure its best to have at least 2 days worth of batteries available.  Shooting video as well as stills, my battery consumption will be significantly higher than shooting stills alone. Along with AC battery chargers, I've also got a couple of 12V cigarette lighter fed battery chargers so I can get as many batteries charged as possible. With my goal of shooting lots of video footage during both expeditions, my portable HDD count has gone through the roof.  Last year just shooting stills I took my laptop and 1 portable HDD so I had two copies of all my media.   Most of the video content I capture is done directly to an SSD in my Atomos Ninja in ProRes 422 which requires a considerable amount of storage per minute of footage and given my nearly religious dedication to making duplicates of all media shot during an expedition I am now equipped with a plethora of  of portable HDDs.  I'd love to be able to store a single copy of my laptop and a 2nd copy on my portable HDD but unfortunately Apple doesn't offer the Macbook Pro with a 8TB SSD option nor could I justifying the financial outlay of buying one should they exist. But portable HDDs are not the bane of my efforts in packing camera gear.  My collection of tripod heads I will use of these two expeditions are a weighty amount of gear in their own right. My trusty Really Right Stuff BH-55 comes everywhere. I love it. Its perfect for landscapes and combined with my RRS L-Brackets and even my 4th Generation designs replacement lens feet. It just works and it works well.  My Jobu Design Jr. 3 Deluxe Gimbal head is in my bag. It works perfectly for shooting with my Canon 500mm f/4 IS MkII. (Look for a review coming soon on the Job Design Jr. 3 Deluxe Gimbal head). And to round out my my heads I have  Manfrotto 502HD Pro video fluid head.  This fluid head is great for video work. Its a good balance of features vs. price vs. weight and a welcome part of my kit when it comes to video work.  I'd love if I could get a tripod head that would be perfect for video, long lenses and landscapes and work with my L brackets and wasn't too bulky or heavy but I'm not sure if the perfect utility head exists. Along with my tripod, a DSLR Video cage and a slider the sheer bulk of camera equipment support gear I'm amassing as I look at my gear is worrying when I consider my weight restrictions.  I'm well into the excess luggage realm and pre-purchasing an extra luggage allowance for my return flights. With a selection of Canon 35mm lenses covering from 17mm to 500mm, extenders  and two Camera bodies my 'carry-on' luggage is getting up there.  I'd love to be able to check in my camera gear in a couple of locked Pelican cases but after all the footage circulating on the internet of baggage handlers treating luggage akin to throwing out the trash I have zero confidence of any of my camera gear arriving at Iceland in the same state as I packed it in Australia. For trips later in the year, I'll investigate sending my gear via priority shipping to my hotel so its there when I arrive rather than trying to do the luggage shuffle with way too much gear! For more information of what to pack for an Arctic Photography Expedition have a look at my Arctic Circle Photography Packing List recommendations