Landscape photography Gear for the Faroe Islands

As I am left with some extra frequent flyer miles from a previous line of work, I decided to end my summer holidays with a last-minute landscape photography trip to the Faroe Islands. This had been a goal of mine for a while and the prospect of escaping the summer heatwave was very enticing.

The trip focused on photography so most of my luggage was occupied by camera gear, the rest was filled with camping gear. The camping gear was unused during the trip since I quickly decided for a hotel instead of camping sites. When I go back, I will stick with camping since I spent very little time in the hotel.

I traveled with my Fuji X-T2 and three lenses, two of which I own and one rental which I wanted to test out to decide if I should buy it.

Fuji X-T2

This was a new camera bought after giving myself awhile to try out my last camera (a Nikon d700) which was ditched due to weight considerations. This is a small mirrorless APS-C sensor camera which offers weather sealing and a 24mp sensor. For me however the main reason for going with this camera is the weight, right now the body and two lenses weigh less than my old Nikon 80-200 2.8 lens did, leaving me with a massive weight saving in my hiking bag. However, there are a few things that I miss from my D700 mainly battery life, the fuji has decent stamina but to get close to the D700 I have to carry three extra batteries which is an annoying extra hassle. I also kind of miss the full frame sensor, something that I could have fixed by going with a Sony camera however the small format and the excellent controls on the fuji camera tips the scale for me.

The camera has a screen the tilts and flips sadly though it does not flip in all directions making the placement of the camera in a tripod crucial, at least if you want the benefit of a tilt screen.

Fujinon XF 23mm 2.0

This 35mm full frame equivalent lens is the focal range I’ve missed the most since last year’s switch from a X100 to the d700 so getting it back was I high priority for me. Luckily fuji have created some stunning lenses to pair with their mirrorless cameras. This one is no exception its weather sealed reasonably bright and provides excellent details. But as with the body itself the main thing for me is the handling of everything except manual focus. Fuji seems to have decided to go all in with focus by wire something that just does not work to satisfaction, this was a massive drawback on the x100t where the autofocus just could not keep up with moving objects and frequently missed. Fuji have rectified this with the X-T2 which focuses nicely especially when paired with a fuji prime such as this.

The focal range has always been a favourite of mine since it’s wide enough for most types of photography without introducing too much distortion. Compared to the 50mm range it do feel it makes the images a bit more interesting giving them a bit more depth.

Fujinon XF 50mm 2.0

This 75mm full frame equivalent lens have almost everything in common with the 23mm lens mentioned above. If anything separates them, I would say it’s the lens hood which on the 50mm is a lot more useful however it’s lacking a cut out for operating filters with the hood on.

As for the focal range I mainly use it for studio photography and as a short tele, for the later it’s lightly to short but the 24mp resolution of the X-T2 allows for some cropping to alleviate this issue. For studio work however, I find that it fits my two small studio spaces perfectly since the limited space makes any longer lenses hard if not impossible to use.

Fujinon 10-24mm 4.0

This is a lens I rented for this trip looking for a good wide-angle lens, my main concerns however were the dark aperture. This fairly obvious issue is followed by two slightly more hidden issues, size and weight. Even though the lens is fairly small compared to a full frame zoom, it is huge compared to the other primes and the X-T2 body. It is also a heavy lens bumping the weight up considerably, this is despite the fact that lens is not weather sealed and like the rest of fuji’s lenses uses a focus by wire system.

The short end of the focal range is wonderful, especially for landscapes. It’s been a few years since I had anything wider than 35mm (full frame) at my disposal and wide angel is a lot more fun then I remembered.

Three-Legged Thing Algot

This is the tripod I bought for my D700 and as such it is a bit too heavy for my new lighter camera. It is still an extremely good tripod and not really lacking in any major department. It’s designed to be flipped on itself for storage and transport, something that works well for storage but is a bit cumbersome while on a hike, luckily it can still be collapsed entirely in the regular way with the drawback of a longer total package.

For the trip to the Faroes I opted to bring the middle rod which is removable and reversible, which is useful if you want the camera close to the ground. On most of my other trips I have decided against bringing the middle rod, especially since the tripod even without it is high enough.

Filters

For this camera I have gone with screw on filters, since a 100mm filter kit would be very big compared to the rest of the system forcing me to carry a bigger bag.

This does however leave me with a bit of a step-up mess since all my lenses uses different filter rings. Currently I have solved this for the 50mm and for the rental 10-24mm lens but my trusty 23mm will have to manage without.

I am using a combination of a Syrp Variable ND and a small set of BW ND’s 3 and 6 stop together with a polarizer. This gives me a fair range on the ND abilities however I have had some issues with the variable ND on the wide-angle lens. I get the expected cross pattern, but so far, I have been able to manage with using ND 1-6 which on the syrp works well.

Lowepro Protactic 350 AW

This have been my main photography bag for a few years now and it offers almost everything I need. This is at the cost of a fairly high weight and some limitations in how you structure the internal cabinet. The later one of these issues exists only if you want to be able to open all the available entry points to the bag. With my move to a mirrorless setup I have been able to fit a lot more non-technical equipment in the bag making it a lot easier to bring along on day trips. Right now, I load it up with my camera gear, rain clothes, water and some tools. Making life a lot easier when hiking to and back from photo locations, sadly the tripod does not fit inside the bag and the length makes it unpractical to use the included tripod pouch that mounts on the back. I’ve instead opted to use the included straps and some extra cord to tie the tripod to the back of the bag. This works but is slightly unpractical when arriving at a location. I am therefore looking into using a short length of elastic bands instead of the extra cord I use which will cut out the tying and untying of knots every time I want to use my tripod.

10 Tips for a summer photography trip to the Faroe Islands

During the summer of 2018 I went to the Faroe Islands to do some photography and to escape the European heatwave. When reflecting on the trip I realised that I did some things very well and that there were some things I should have done differently. So, I decided to summarize them in 10 tips for the Faroe Islands. These mainly concern planning and weather since that seems to be the major issues when going to the Faroes.

 

1. Start with accommodation

Since there is so much to see in the Faroe Islands you will probably find beautiful things to photograph everywhere however finding a place to sleep is a bit harder. Therefore, I suggest starting your planning with sleeping arrangements and working out locations from there.

 

2. Get some wheels

I truly believe that if you like me have limited time for travel getting a car to move around in the Faroes is the best way. There are so many beautiful spots along the roads that would be inaccessible by public transport. With unlimited time I might suggest walking or bicycling however that puts extra strain on the accommodation planning since places to sleep mainly located around largish villages. Any wild camping is prohibited and I would strongly recommend against it especially since the areas pristine nature and culture is worth preserving.

As for the type of car I would go with the smallest one you can find, during summer at least there is no need for anything other than a regular small car. You will however have to take care while driving especially in the fog it’s all too easy to miss a sharp turn and have to enjoy a few hundred meters of tumbling, or for that matter to hit a gracing sheep something I believe the locals look down upon.

 

3. Have backup plans

Make sure that you scout out at least twice the number of locations that you feel you have the time for. You will probably be forced to cancel at least half due to weather conditions, having a few backups that work in different weather makes reorganising the trip simple and the short distances involved makes a mid-day switch easy.

Weather sealing isn’t necessary for the most part but on the Faroes it really helps

Weather sealing isn’t necessary for the most part but on the Faroes it really helps

 

4. Bring rain gear for you and your equipment

You can be certain that it will rain sometime during your visit but if you bring good rain gear and weather sealed equipment that will only give you a different perspective on some of the classic views.

5. Bring a sturdy tripod

High winds are almost as certain as rain causing some issues especially for longer exposures, however a sturdy tripod and something to weight it down might give you the stability you need to get the shoot. Or at least to keep your equipment, on the day I arrived I went to Mulafossur and the winds where reaching 20m/s making it hard both to stand up and to make sure that I got all the gear back. A good solution would have been to tie the tripod to my bag making the package a lot easier to deal with. Sadly, I only figured this out the day after...

6. Give it time

After arriving at a location make sure to give it ample time before moving on with the constantly changing weather five extra minutes might give you that perfect moment. You can always spend the time enjoying the beautiful views.

 

7. Avoid the first route selected by Google maps

When planning your drives try to make sure that you aim for the smaller roads this gives you the opportunity to stumble on some hidden gems. With some careful planning you could also avoid taking the same route twice further improving the possibilities for unexplored viewpoints.

8. Bring offline maps

As a swede mainly traveling in the Nordic countries I have become used to free roaming, however the Faroes is a bit different. I therefore suggest making sure that you download both your entertainment and any maps you might require before leaving home. This also makes for a good way to make sure your planning is organised.

 

9. Follow the green flowery signs

When driving make sure that you have enough time for detours, especially along any roads marked with green signs. These signs are used to mark the scenic routes and they are well worth the extra time.

 

10. Step away from the road

While driving it’s all too easy to just top right next to the road when you notice an amazing view. And while doing this is preferable to just driving past, I would strongly recommend that you take the time to leave the car and explore the area (provided you find a safe spot to park the car in of course)