The term ‘Explore’ can be used in many ways. For me and my style of photography it is synonymous with my hiking adventures. It is inevitable that most of us will try to capture that ‘tourist’ photo. I for one am happy with that but, I also like to try and capture something different and sometimes, you just have to ‘explore’ your surroundings.

The above photo being the perfect example. Oeschinensee Lake and it’s surrounding mountain range is one of my favourite hikes in Switzerland. However, the big boulder is not always visible due to the varying water levels. It was a rare moment for me so took the opportunity for a selfie to capture the scale of the area.

The Truly Spectacular Isle of Skye

The UK has some amazing places to explore. None more than the beautiful Isle of Skye. A place I have always wanted to visit for it’s dramatic ‘alien-looking’ landscapes. This is one of those places where you really don’t want those blue skies. 

Serene Calmness and Tranquility

This pretty much sums the Island up before 9am and after 6pm (that’s when the tourists aren’t usually around!). Even though I am a tourist I much prefer to avoid the crowds to capture those ‘people’ free photos. The beauty of the Isle of Skye is most of the ‘classic’ photos are within walking distance from the car. You don’t need to hike far to capture it’s beauty.

Zoom With Your Feet

But, to really see what the island has to offer then a little exploring will reveal the hidden beauty of the Isle of Skye. This will allow you to see other parts of the island that are less tourist trodden!

Rolling clouds Over The Quiraing
Rha Waterfall Isle of Skye

Got To Do Your Homework

Hindhope Linn Waterfall

Safety First

Whilst this might appear obvious there are many people who just venture out ill-prepared. To avoid getting into difficulties it will help immensely if you plan your intentions. Is it to hike to a local waterfall? Climb up a mountain to capture a panorama? Whatever the image you are intending to capture it wouldn’t hurt to do a bit of prep.

Google Maps + Map

I’ll always start at home Google mapping the location I wish to visit. I’ll ‘zoom in’ to the map to look at the route. I’ll then see if I can find a .gpx file to use with an app like ‘Komoot’ or, ‘OS Maps’ for example. I’ll then make sure I have downloaded the region ‘offline’ on Google and Komoot just in case I lose a signal. As a back-up I’ll have a power bank plus a ‘real’ map with a compass.

These might seem overkill to some. To me, it means I can go out to the planned location with my camera – stress free. I know where I’m going and how to get there and enjoy taking the photos.

Check The Weather

It goes without saying – but, always check the forecast before you head out. As most of you know the UK weather is very unpredictable. So is abroad.

I’ll always do a 10-14 day forecast. Even though I know it will change nearer the time the long forecast gives you an rough idea of what to expect. This is equally important if you want the dramatic weather for a particular location. Or a storm rolling in to catch the waves crashing against a lighthouse. 

Expect The Unexpected

Even if you’ve done your due diligence and checked the forecast the night before. Be prepared to be let down. There have been many missed opportunities due to incorrect weather forecasts. I use the term ‘incorrect’ loosely as the forecasters themselves are…just forecasting. 

Fjadrargljufur Canyon South Iceland

This image is taken from the Fjadrargljufur Canyon along the South Coast of Iceland. The forecast the night before was not what met us on the day! Temperature at -7, 10 minute walk through a horizontal snow blizzard to get to the bridge to take this shot. My partner blocked the front of the lens while I got things ready. She moved. I took the shot. And, this was the result. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and you have to make the most of what you have – especially if you are visiting another location as you never know when you can revisit. I think I was lucky this day capturing something different. If you ‘Google’ this place you’ll see many photos of it’s lush green landscape!

Rosenlaui Mountains in Switzerland

A Photographer Needs Their Tools Aswell

As much as a Joiner needs their tools, so does a photographer Amateur or not. I’m not going to preach what tools a photographer needs just the tools that help me.

Backpack for Photographers or Hikers

I won’t be delving into which backpack to pick (I will be doing an in-depth article on this very soon) but more about what I take with me.

As you may have already gathered, I like to explore! Some locations I’ve photographed are literally a stones throw from the roadside. Those locations allow me to leave some things in the boot making life a little easier. However, the majority of my captures require a variety of distances to get to.

Rosenlaui Waterfall

My partner and I visited Switzerland in 2022 and we’d planned a full hike from Meiringen to Grindelwald. The distance was approximately 25km taking about 6-7 hours (not including stops). The opportunities for photographs was endless. But, being a Type 1 Diabetic I certainly couldn’t just carry my camera gear!

What Did I Carry?

Firstly, for a hike this big I needed my bigger backpack – Mindshift 50L Pro Rotation. I would use the rotation part to store 2 lenses (telephoto and wide angle) and batteries. A Peak Design Capture Clip would hold my camera along with a 16-55mm zoom. I would use an earlier version of the Peak Design Capture Clip to hold my GoPro ready to film the adventure. And, not forgetting my ‘travel’ friendly tripod strapped to the outside.

Not Forgetting Food and Fluids

Fortunately, I was on holiday with my partner so we shared the food carrying capacity. But that aside, I still had a 3L Bladder in my backpack along with 2 x 500ml soft flasks. Plus extra snacks and sugars to keep my levels up. 

If this was a trip on my own, given the hot weather, I’d have probably split it in to two separate hikes. My bag was busting at 15kg+ without the extra food!