Imagine life on the move, where the open road is your constant companion and each new destination becomes an opportunity to capture moments that tell stories. For digital nomads and vanlifers who share a passion for photography, this article unveils the gear that transforms my journey as a landscape photographer into an unforgettable experience.
Before we delve into the details, it’s important to note that this isn’t a universal guide to photography gear. Instead, it’s about sharing my personal choices, the equipment that resonates with my vision, and the setup that empowers my creativity. If you’re in the process of building your own photography toolkit for a life on the road, consider these insights as inspiration and guidance to tailor your gear to your unique style and preferences.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the gear that forms the foundation of my photography adventures. From cameras and lenses that let me see the world through my lens to accessories that enhance my creativity, and an editing setup that transforms my captures into works of art – it’s all here. So, for fellow travellers and photography enthusiasts eager to uncover how gear can elevate your artistry, let’s dive in and explore the tools that have become my companions on the less-travelled path.
A Trusted Duo:
My Reliable Cameras and Versatile Lenses
For those who’ve followed my photography journey, my preference for Nikon cameras and Tamron lenses has remained consistent, even as I’ve embraced the nomadic lifestyle
.At the heart of my photographic adventure lies the Nikon D800—a camera that goes beyond being a tool. It’s a creative extension, robust enough to withstand life on the go while adding a “wow” factor to my photos with its full-frame sensor.
The Nikon D800 boasts impressive resolution, capturing intricate details, vivid colours, and delicate interplays of light. Its dynamic range is equally striking, painting a canvas of tones and contrasts that mirror the enchanting landscapes I explore. Despite being an older model, the D800 holds its own against newer releases, standing strong with its resolution and dynamic range.
Partnered with the Nikon D800 is the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di USD (version 1) lens—the workhorse I rely on about 90% of the time. This lens is like a trusted companion, effortlessly capturing sweeping landscapes and intricate details alike. Its versatile focal length range makes it ideal for portraying the ever-changing beauty of landscapes.
When I seek a different perspective, whether up close or at a distance, the Tamron SP AF 70-200mm Di LD IF Macro f/2.8 lens comes into play. This lens shines when I want to capture subjects up close or frame a scene from afar. It adds versatility to my kit, allowing me to compress perspective for a unique visual impact. With the Tamron 70-200mm lens, I can bring distant scenes closer or frame them to highlight their distinct character.
I also occasionally turn to the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro lens. Though not a regular in my kit, it excels in macro photography, capturing tiny details that often go unnoticed.
The Key to Perfect Shots
Achieving that perfect shot isn’t just about having the right camera—it’s also about having a stable foundation. This is where my reliable tripod setup steps in as an unsung hero behind the scenes.
Imagine navigating diverse landscapes, from rugged terrains to open fields. The Feisol Tournament CT-3442 Rapid carbon fibre tripod is my secret weapon. Lightweight yet astonishingly stable, it owes its stability to clever carbon fibre construction. The addition of spike attachments on the feet further enhances its stability on various surfaces. My preference is for the version without a centre column, maximising its low-profile and steady nature. This tripod is more than a stand—it’s a dependable partner that ensures my camera remains steady, even in challenging conditions. It’s the bedrock upon which my visual stories are built.
However, a tripod is only as effective as its head, and the Manfrotto MHXPRO-3WG geared tripod head takes the lead. It’s the control centre for precision. Its specialised gears enable fine adjustments that significantly impact my shots. It’s akin to tuning a musical instrument—tweak a knob here, adjust a lever there, and suddenly the composition is spot-on. Adding to its prowess, I’ve paired an Acra Swiss locking plate with the Manfrotto camera plate. This allows me to use my L-bracket for even more precise control when shifting the camera’s orientation. This technique is particularly vital for crafting stunning stitched panoramas. With this combination, I possess all the tools required to ensure each shot is a masterpiece.
Think of every shot as a masterpiece, and my tripod setup as the easel. The Feisol Tournament CT-3442 and the Manfrotto MHXPRO-3WG, with a touch of custom tweaking, create a dynamic duo that brings stability to my work and transforms scenes into captivating photos.
A Backpack of Possibilities
How I Carry My Gear
Each time I venture into the wild with my camera gear, I’m not merely selecting a backpack—I’m choosing a platform from which to work in the field. It’s a critical decision, as the right backpack ensures my gear is secure, easily accessible, and poised for action. In my nomadic photography journey, I’ve found two reliable companions: the F-Stop Gear Loka 37L and the versatile F-Stop Gear Sukha 70L.
When I embark on quick photo adventures or spontaneous shoots, the F-Stop Gear Loka 37L is my first choice. It’s akin to a steadfast friend that doesn’t burden me but still accommodates my needs. Its intelligent design ensures comfort even on rugged trails and uneven terrain.
The F-Stop Gear Loka 37L suits my needs when I’m walking short distances from my base or my parked van, Knotten, to capture images. It’s perfect for moments when I don’t require additional hiking gear like food or extra layers of clothing. The backpack comes equipped with Molle panels, providing the flexibility to attach additional items and enhancing its versatility.
For grander adventures, the F-Stop Gear Sukha 70L takes the spotlight. It’s akin to my mobile home, a hybrid that combines the functionalities of a camera backpack and the adaptability of a hiking backpack. Featuring attachment points for diverse gear and capacious pockets, the Sukha 70L accommodates not only my chosen camera setup but also equipment necessary for overnight hikes.
Unlike the Loka 37L, the Sukha 70L lacks Molle panels but compensates with more anchor points for Gate Keeper straps. Furthermore, its robust carrying harness offers enhanced comfort and support during longer journeys, making it the perfect companion for extensive explorations.
Nested within both the F-Stop Gear Loka 37L and the F-Stop Gear Sukha 70L, the F-Stop Gear Medium Slope ICU acts as the guardian of my camera gear. Its cleverly designed compartments and protective padding cradle my equipment, granting easy access while safeguarding against the challenges of travel. This ingenious solution ensures my gear remains organised, allowing me to concentrate on capturing fleeting moments that kindle my creative fire.
With these backpacks as my companions, I’m prepared for any adventure. More than mere bags, they’re reliable platforms that empower me to pursue my photographic dreams, ensuring my gear’s safety and my inspiration’s flow.
Accessorising the Vision
Tools of Precision and Light
In photography, it’s often the finer details that make the most significant impact. The accessories I choose serve as tools that enhance my craft, bringing precision to my work and illuminating scenes with the perfect touch of light. From guiding light’s dance with my Sekonic L-358 light meter to utilising filters as artistic instruments, and introducing an extra dimension with the Metz 50 AF-1 speedlight flash—each accessory plays a specific role in enhancing my photographic journey. And when it comes to safeguarding my captures, strategic storage practices ensure no moment is lost in the digital realm. These are the finishing touches that compose the symphony of my visual storytelling.
Guiding Light: Sekonic L-358 Light Meter
In the intricate play between light and shadow, precision reigns supreme. Enter the Sekonic L-358 light meter, an essential companion that deciphers the subtleties of illumination. It’s more than a tool; it’s a guide that ensures my photos capture the essence of each scene. For added accuracy, the NP-FINDER 1° spot meter attachment joins the performance, offering pinpoint precision even in challenging lighting conditions. Together, this dynamic duo opens the door to compositions that radiate depth and emotion, transforming every photograph into a masterpiece.
Crafting Light and Shadow: The Power of Filters
Filters—photography’s brushes for light and shadow—shape my artistry. My palette consists of Kase, Lee, and HiTech Formatt filters, a symphony of light control that enhances my work:
Precision with Lee Hard Edge ND-grad Filters: These filters (0.6 and 0.9) balance contrasts, allowing highlights and shadows to coexist elegantly and capturing the scene’s depth.
Seamless Transitions with Kase Soft Edge ND-grads: Stepping in with fluidity (0.6 and 0.9), they shift between light and shadow, preserving detail and adding finesse.
Vision Crafting with ND Filters: The Kase Circular Polarizer enriches skies and minimizes glare. The Kase ND 64 (6 stop), HiTech Formatt ND 8 (3 stop), and HiTech Formatt ND 16 (4 stop) filters mold light and shadow. These serve as my conductor’s baton, shaping nature’s luminance as I envision.
In this world of light, my filter collection isn’t just tools—it’s creative brushes that guide the symphony of light and shadow, capturing fleeting moments in all their brilliance.
Lighting the Scene: Metz 50 AF-1 Speedlight Flash
When natural light requires a boost, the Metz 50 AF-1 speedlight flash head enters the scene, enhanced by a Hähnel Radio Trigger for versatile off-camera illumination. Together, they add an extra layer of light to scenes, introducing dimension and drama where needed.
Smart Storage: Safeguarding Memories with Memory Cards
In today’s digital realm, intelligent storage is a necessity. I opt for memory cards from trusted brands like Sandisk, including the reliable Sandisk Extreme Pro and versatile Sandisk Ultra. These cards range from 16GB to 32GB, mitigating the risk of relying heavily on a single card. Regularly transferring images ensures no cherished moment is lost. This approach secures my creative journey, guaranteeing that every scene I capture on the road remains protected.
Durable Companion: Samsung XCover 5
In my nomadic life, durability and reliability are paramount. This is why I entrust the Samsung XCover 5 to accompany me on my photographic expeditions. This rugged smartphone doesn’t just capture moments in sharp detail; it also withstands the challenges of outdoor exploration. Its sturdy design equips it to handle the bumps and hurdles of van life, while its potent camera enables me to capture scenes on the fly.
I also rely on my Samsung X-Cover 5 for various other creative tasks. Whether it’s quick sketches, behind-the-scenes shots, or crafting engaging Instagram stories in the field, this versatile device adapts to my dynamic needs. Additionally, I utilise photography apps like the Photographer’s Ephemeris, Photo Tools, Photo Pills, and Lee ND-filter calculator for precise planning and calculations. Navigation apps such as Yr, Google Maps, Windy, Norway Topo Maps, Kamoot, and UT assist me in mapping out routes and exploring new locations. To introduce movement and stability to my smartphone shots and videos, the Hohem iSteady gimbal becomes an invaluable tool. With the Samsung XCover 5 in hand, I’m prepared not only to capture moments but also to elevate my creative process and document my journey authentically.
Editing on the Move
Asus Zenbook 13, Wacom Intuos Pro, and True-Colour Screens
Editing my photos isn’t confined to the wild; I also work on my Asus Zenbook 13 laptop, a compact powerhouse that accompanies me anywhere. It boasts an AMD Ryzen 7 processor from the 5000 series and 16 GB of RAM, providing substantial capability. Despite its lightweight and portable nature, it possesses the power to handle my editing tasks—a perfect fit for life on the road in my van.
An interesting feature of this laptop is its ability to charge via a USB-C cable. This convenience extends to using the same charger for my laptop and other devices, simplifying cable management. Moreover, it’s compatible with larger screens using USB 3.2, affording me additional workspace without compromising colour accuracy.
When I’m ready to dive into editing, I combine my Asus Zenbook 13 with a Wacom Intuos Pro Small. This digital pen tablet allows precise edits, offering a more natural feel compared to a standard computer mouse and enhancing the editing process.
The Asus ProArt PA247CV and Asus ProArt PA148CTV screens play a pivotal role in my editing workflow. They excel at displaying colours accurately, a critical aspect of my work. Consistency between the screen and my photos is essential. The PA247CV excels as a heavyweight champion, perfect for editing when I have access to power at campsites. It can also be powered using my portable power station when needed. On the other hand, the PA148CTV boasts versatility. It suits situations when I rely on my laptop’s power or a basic USB connection while out in nature. Even when I’m extensively editing on the PA247CV, the PA148CTV can function as my secondary screen.
Collectively, these tools—the Asus Zenbook 13, Wacom Intuos Pro, Asus ProArt PA247CV, and Asus ProArt PA148CTV—guide me in shaping my photos into narratives, capturing the essence of the places I explore. From the initial spark of an idea to the final refinement, this mobile editing setup breathes life into my creative journey.
Within my digital toolkit, Camera Bits Photo Mechanic efficiently handles sorting and metadata management. For RAW editing, I turn to Capture One as my primary tool, supplemented by Adobe Photoshop for more intricate edits. Notably, Nik Software plugins, including Color Efex, Vivesa, and Silver Efex, add distinct flavours to both my colour and black-and-white photography.
Fueling the Adventure
EcoFlow River Max Power Station
In my nomadic lifestyle, the EcoFlow River 2 Max power station takes on a vital role. It transcends being a mere power source; it’s the driving force that energises my devices, from cameras to laptops. This power station enhances my setup’s versatility by offering multiple charging options—solar power, 12V outlets, and 220V shore power. With its assistance, my creative work remains uninterrupted, even amidst the wilderness. It’s a constant companion, ensuring I’m always connected and ready to capture the beauty of life on the road.
In summary, my journey as a landscape photographer and vanlifer is more than just capturing images; it’s about exploring the world through my heartfelt lens. The gear I’ve chosen isn’t just tools; they’re an extension of my vision and dedication to capturing the intimate landscapes that resonate with me.
As I travel Norway’s open roads, my Nikon cameras, Tamron lenses, and well-chosen accessories are reliable companions that freeze fleeting beauty. Each piece, from tripods to filters, plays a role in crafting stories that reflect the landscapes’ essence.
My Samsung X-Cover 5 bridges nature and technology, capturing rugged terrains while Asus Zenbook 13, Wacom Intuos Pro, and calibrated screens refine my captures into narratives of adventure and serenity. Beyond tools, it’s the exploration, light-chasing thrill, and harmony