Departing for Arctic Winter Expeditions 2017

In a few hours time I am headed to the airport for the long haul flights to Europe to kick off the 2017 year. I had planned to have a couple more weeks at home before I headed north to the Arctic but a new opportunity in Italy has ramped up my schedule and I will now have a couple of weeks in Italy before I head up to Finland and then onto Iceland and Svalbard.

I have a number of different workshops and expeditions on this trip which officially kick off in force after Finland. Finland is a scouting trip and I am hoping to get the opportunity to photograph Great Grey Owls, Hawk Owls and also Wolverine in a winter setting. I actually won the trip to Finland as part of the Global Arctic Photographer of the Year award and decided to extend the trip into a full scouting expedition. As I have not been to Finland before this will all be new and I am very much looking forward to the experience.

After Finland I am travelling directly to Iceland for my annual winter workshop with Daniel Bergmann. This workshop has long been sold out but we are now starting to take bookings for 2018 and full details of this workshop are available on my website at the way to the End of the World - AntarcticaAfter our Winter Frozen north workshop I am leading a small group of wildlife photographers up to the extreme northwest of Iceland to photograph Arctic Foxes in a winter setting. We are using a private charter boat to access the remote peninsula and will spend a week living with the Arctic Foxes. Having worked extensively in this area over the last three years on my Arctic Fox project I am really excited about sharing this experience with other passionate photographers. I will have a full trip report on both the Iceland Winter Frozen North workshop and Iceland Arctic Fox expedition on my return.Fox AttackAfter I finish in Iceland I am travelling to Svalbard for a week long snow mobile expedition for a new short film about Nature photography in winter in the Arctic. It has been a couple of years since I was last in Svalbard on snow mobiles in winter and I am really looking forward to getting back out into the back country and wilderness in a winter setting. With just a two person film crew we will be light and mobile and should be able to cover a lot of ground and hopefully have some wonderful wildlife encounters.

After the snow mobile expedition I will lead one final winter Arctic expedition from Longyearbyen aboard the expedition ship M.S Origo – Svalbard in Winter. Our plan is to take advantage of the winter light and low angle of the sun to explore and photograph both the wildlife and landscape of the Svalbard archipelago in a winter setting. The high Arctic in winter is an incredible place and although the temperatures can be very extreme it is well worth the effort to witness and photograph such an amazing landscape in such dramatic winter light. The 2017 expedition has also long been sold out but bookings are now open for the 2018 expedition – details on my website at  (limited places remaining).svalbard-9725-edit copyPacking for these sort of expeditions is always a challenge. In terms of subject matter, there will be both extensive wildlife and landscape opportunities during these expeditions and as such I am packing both wide angle and telephoto lenses. With that in mind I settled on the following as my selection for these  trips:

Gura Gear Bataflae 32L Camera Bag (Carry on Luggage)

– 2 x Canon EOS 1DX MKII bodies
– 1 x Canon EOS 5DSR body
– 1 x Canon 16-35mm F4L IS Lens
– 1 x Canon 24-70mm F2.8L IS MK II Lens
– 1 x Canon 70-200mm F2.8L MKII IS Lens
– 1 x Canon 600mm F4L IS MKII Lens
– 1 x Sigma 15mm Fish Eye Lens
– 1 x Canon 1.4 TC MKIII Teleconverter
Gura Gear Chobe (Carry on Luggage)
– 1 x Apple MacBook Pro 15″ Retina
– 1 x Apple laptop charger
– 1 x Canon 200-400mm F4L MKII IS Lens
– 2 x USB 3 2TB external portable Sandisk SSD Drives
– 1 x  Thunderbolt CFast card reader and CF card Reader
– 1 x Sunglasses and sunglasses case
– 1 x Leica Ultra-vid 10×42 HD Binoculars
Etcetera Case #1 (Inside Chobe)
– 1 x Canon 1-Series camera charger
– 2 x Power Adapters for on board ship
– 2 x Canon 1DX spare Batteries
– 2 x Canon 5DSR spare Batteries
Etcetera Case #2 (Inside North Face Duffle)
– 1 x Arctic Butterfly Sensor Cleaner
– 1 x Filter Wrench
– 1 x Zeiss Cleaning Fluid and Lens Cleaning Tissue
– 1 x Micro Fibre Lens Cloth
– 1 x Rocket Blower with Hepa-Filter
I have been toying for some time with the idea of adding the new Canon 100-400mm MKII lens to my arsenal (as a replacement for the 70-200mm), but in the end decided I really wanted the faster 2.8 lens for these particular trips.  In addition to all of the above, I am also taking a pair of Pocket Wizards and a CamFi remote trigger system for the Canon EOS1DX MKII system. I recently reviewed the CamFi here on my blog (Read the Review) and am looking forward to using this remote trigger system with the Arctic Foxes in Iceland. Lastly, I will have some spare time in Italy and am looking forward to hopefully a few days in Rome and Venice in winter. Please put the coffee on….  See you in Italy.

Whats in Josh’s Gura Gear Bataflae 32L?

In part two of the new Gura Gear Bataflae series of videos we have a look at just what I pack in my camera bag for both international travel and local landscape photography. Depending on where I am travelling and what I am shooting I occasionally swap lenses in and out of this collection. As you will see, you can fit quite a bit of gear in a  Bataflae 32L! I actually discovered another tele-converter in the bag on top of all the other equipment when I was repacking the bag after we finished filming. Just click on the image to watch the video via You Tube. I hope you enjoy. You can order the Gura Gear Bataflae cameras bags directly from Gura Gear.


How do you take what is widely regarded by many photographers as one of the finest camera bags on the market and make it even better?

I was pondering this when the guys at Gura Gear first told me that they were working on an update to the very popular Kiboko 30L camera bag along with a range of new accessory storage bags called the ‘Et Cetera’ range.I was an early adopter of Gura Gear bags. After I returned from my first expedition to Iceland I realized how unhappy I had become with my then current camera bag (whose name shall remain anonymous). For a variety of reasons it was no longer satisfying my needs and I was on the lookout for a new lightweight bag that met airline carry-on restrictions for size but enabled me to carry more equipment comfortably into the field.  Anyone who has travelled domestically or internationally with camera equipment understands the importance of being able to carry equipment onto the airplane to avoid the risk of damage or theft in checked luggage. I therefore needed a bag that could not only hold all of my equipment, but that was light, robust, suitable for moderate hiking, and still enabled me to glide through airport check -in with a smile and a wave. My search led me to the Kiboko which, after several years of photographic travel, has become my number one camera bag of choice for all of my photography.

Fast forward to 2012 – With a four week photographic trip to Europe and a workshop in Iceland in July and August this year it was the perfect opportunity to field test the new Gura Gear Bataflae camera bags and Et Cetera range. The good folks at Gura Gear agreed and a shipment of the new product range was soon winging its way to me.

I admit to being very excited when I opened up the boxes from Gura Gear and saw the new products. You know you have purchased a quality product when you open the box and are greeted by the super slick black dust covers bearing the Gura Gear logo. Whilst the addition of a dust bag might seem superfluous it does in fact prove very useful for long-term storage and can even serve as a pretty cool laundry bag when travelling.

Widely regarded as being capable of swallowing copious amounts of camera equipment with room to spare (the Kiboko 30L will hold just about everything you can throw at it) the new Bataflae 32L adds even more space. Overall, it is larger and deeper than the original. This extra space proved a real blessing during my field tests as Canon’s new 1DX camera with a really right stuff L bracket is a very tight fit in the original Kiboko, but slides perfectly into the new bag thanks to the extra head room. Users of professional DSLR’s, medium and large format camera gear will really appreciate the extra height available.

Those of you familiar with the original Kiboko will already be sold on the benefits of the unique butterfly openings that avoid that unwieldy large flap that most camera bags provide for internal access.  There are, however, times when it would be nice to be able to open the bag right up for packing and full access. Well, the new Bataflae gives you the best of both worlds with the traditional butterfly openings but adds the ability to open the entire bag up by releasing a simple clasp at the top of the bag. This really makes packing much simpler as well as providing full access to both sides simultaneously when required in the field. The centre divider contains extra strengthening to maintain rigidity even when the bag is fully loaded. In use, I found this to work very well.The rain cover has been relocated from inside one of the butterfly pockets to outside the bag in a small zippered pocket, which has freed up more room in the butterfly pocket. The rain cover now also utilizes a draw string which is an improvement over the original elastic cover because it can now also serve as a ground sheet if required.

Like the original bags, the new range is manufactured from highly durable materials, although the new material has more bling. The stitching, zippers and internal fittings of the new bags are improved in every respect. Even the finger zipper pulls are easier to use.  Additional padding has been added to the backpack harness, which makes the bag noticeably more comfortable when hiking. There are yet more refinements to be found in the way of improved clasps for carrying tripods which can even accommodate items such as crampons. Like its predecessor, the new range comes with a considerable number of extra dividers so that its internal storage space can be customized to one’s own particular needs. All of this amounts to a very compelling reason to upgrade to the new models.

When the new Bataflae is fully loaded with my camera equipment it was significantly over the normal carry-on luggage allowance during my Europe and Iceland expeditions, yet I had no issues on any of the five international and domestic flights, including several long haul flights. With the increase in size, the new Bataflae still fits in the overhead lockers on the aircraft I travelled and still retains its understated appearance. I am utterly convinced that the Bataflae is the best camera bag on the market for photographers who fly and travel.

During my four weeks in Europe I used the new Bataflae everywhere, from the bustling streets and Cathedrals of Paris to the more subdued provincial countryside and wine regions of France where I travelled by hire car. I took it mountaineering at 13,000 feet at Mont Blanc in Chamonix where it was -15 degrees Celsius, and trod the myriad of canals in Venice Italy during the peak summer season. I then travelled to Iceland for my 2012 summer Workshop where I spent time on the Snaefellsness Peninsula, the highlands of Landmannalaugar and the stunning Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon to name but a few locations. I undertook some fairly arduous hiking in the Landmannalaugar region and subjected the bag to everything from waterfall spray, rain, salt spray, sand and dust. I threw just about everything I could at the new bags and found them an improvement in every way over the originals.

The design changes and refinements to the new bags are in many cases subtle but they add up to a significant overall improvement that makes for a very compelling reason for existing Kiboko owners to upgrade. If, on the other hand, you haven’t already pampered yourself and your camera gear with Gura Gear then you are about to be presented with a fantastic opportunity with the release of these new products. They are highly recommended for their robustness and overall design.

The new product range takes everything that was great about the original bags and improves on it in just about every respect. I would argue that, outside of the camera and lens, there are few pieces of equipment that can have as much impact on your photography as your camera bag. If you travel or frequently change locations (and which photographer doesn’t!) you owe it to yourself (and your expensive equipment) to check out a Gura Gear camera bag.

Part Two – The Et Cetera and Tembo Range

As photographers we are constantly adding accessories to our equipment arsenal. Additional batteries, chargers, color checkers, CF and SD cards and card readers, adapter rings – the list goes on and on and there is only so many of these that can be shoehorned into a camera bag already overflowing with bodies and lenses. I am sure many of us have thrown all manner of photographic accessories loose into our suitcases before we travel because our camera bag was already overweight with bodies and lenses and at risk of airport check-in destruction.Solving this problem could well be Gura Gear’s masterstroke. Its new Et Cetera and Tembo line of products is designed to solve that annoying problem of finding a home for some of those accessories. The range is perhaps best thought of as the ‘Tupperware’ of camera storage and provides a range of different storage options for different accessories. I found these storage containers invaluable on my recent European trip and Iceland workshop and far more convenient than throwing items loosely in my checked luggage.

There is a range of different sizes and shapes from which to select and photographers will likely choose those models that best suit their needs and requirements.

Gura Gear products can be ordered directly from the Gura Gear Website


CANON: I was recently interviewed again for Canon Australia’s CPS ‘Gear in Action’ website and the content of the interview is now online at CPS Australia. Unlike my previous interview HERE which primarily focused on Fine Art Printing this time the emphasis was on cameras and my experience with Canon’s new tour-de-force 1DX camera during my recent travels through France, Italy, Venice and Iceland. There is also a small gallery of images– which I have not yet even uploaded to my website. I hope you enjoy the interview.For CPS members there are also details of the expedition I am leading to Antarctica with Daniel Bergmann on Canon Australia’s website HERE. This expedition is of course open to all photographers. You don’t have to shoot Canon or be a member of Canon’s Professional Services. 🙂

PHOTOKINA: If you are heading over to Germany for Photokina later this month be sure to stop past the Moab and Legion Paper stands where some of my prints from my Iceland series will be on display on my favourite paper: Somerset Museum Rag.

A small disclaimer: Although I both shoot and print exclusively with Canon cameras and printers I am not sponsored by Canon. I pay for all of my own equipment with my own hard earned money. I choose to use Canon cameras and printers because I have found them to offer outstanding results and reliability in my photography – not because I am incentivised by the manufacturer. I am a Canon CPS Gold Member and rely on CPS to assist me with sensor cleaning and loan equipment from time to time.

Paris, Venice, Iceland and an Arctic Fox…

In a few days from now I am heading to Iceland for my 2012 Summer expedition. It has been well over a year since I was last in Iceland and I am very much looking forward to returning to its amazingly varied and ever changing landscape. Before I make my way to Iceland however, I am going to be spending some ‘quality time’ travelling through France and Italy with my better half. We will be spending a week in Paris, where I will be dragged kicking and screaming from landmark to landmark before we make our way (by car) through the French provincial countryside visiting some of the more famous wine regions on our way to the canals of Venice.

Now, I am normally not in the slightest bit interested in cities. I find them generally polluted, overcrowded and unpleasant places to be. I much prefer to be out in nature’s wilderness. However, I need to earn  a few brownie points and spend some time engaged in activities that my significant other finds appealing before I can escape to the wilds of Iceland. C’est la vie. Secretly, I am looking forward to some photography in the French countryside and around the canals of Venice (but don’t tell my wife!).

On arrival in Iceland I am going to spend a couple of days in Reyjkavic where I will meet up with my good friends Daniel, Martyn and Bruce before we make for the Snaefellsnes peninsula; which is an area of Iceland I have not yet visited. After spending a few days in the Snaefellsnes region we had been planning to head to Hornstrandir Nature reserve to photograph arctic foxes in the extreme northwestern part of Iceland (weather permitting). This is true expedition territory as no one lives there permanently  and it is quite easy to end up stranded there for days if the weather turns bad. At this stage the plan is to wait and see what the weather forecast is and to decide at the time if it is worth the risk. Since the region is so remote it is strictly camping only and all supplies must be carried with us. There is a ferry that travels to the area from Isafjordur and again weather permitting we were thinking of spending a day or two out at Latrabjarg which is one of the best places in Iceland to photograph Puffins. At this time of year the parents should be bringing the chicks fish in their beaks which would make for some excellent wildlife opportunities.In terms of equipment I am planning to take almost my entire line-up of cameras and lenses on this trip. With my wife in toe for the first part of the trip I can easily offload some of my gear into her carry on luggage if required. My compliment of cameras and lenses is going to include:

  • Canon EOS 1DX w/ Really Right Stuff mounting plate from a Canon 70-200mm F4L lens (the L bracket is not yet released for this camera)
  • Canon EOS 1DS MK3 w/ Really Right Stuff L Bracket
  • Canon 17mm F4L TSE Lens
  • Canon 24mm F1.4L MKII Lens
  • Canon 35mm F1.4L Lens
  • Canon 50mm F1.2L Lens
  • Canon 85mm F1.2L Lens
  • Canon 90mm F2.8 TSE Lens
  • Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS Lens w/ Really Right Stuff Mounting Plate
  • Canon 300mm F2.8L IS Lens w/ Really Right Stuff Mounting Plate
  • Canon 1.4 Tele-Converter MKII
  • Gitzo GT350 LSV 6X Carbon Fibre Tripod w/ Really Right BH55 Ball Head
  • MacBook Pro 15″ w/ 8 Gig RAM and 256 Gig SSD running Lightroom 4.1 and Photoshop CS6
  • Sufficient CF and SD Cards, Card Readers, Back-Up Hard Drives (2x IOMEGA dual Firewire 800 1TB Hard Drives), My LEE ND grad filter kit, Camera Batteries, Chargers, Lens cleaning equipment etc…
All of the above (excluding the tripod) will be stored in my Gura Gear Kiboko and Gura Gear Chobe camera bags and carried onto planes. I will check my tripod inside my Helly Hanson duffle roller bag. A year or so ago I would also likely have packed my pocket Canon S90 both as a back-up and for snapshots. However, the camera in my iPhone now serves this purpose and saves me a few grams of weight; whilst adding oodles of convenience.

This trip will be the maiden voyage for my new Canon 1DX camera; which Canon promised me on a handshake I would have before I left. Since it literally only arrived yesterday I was getting very nervous that they were actually going to deliver (especially after all the delays). Ideally, it would have been beneficial if the camera was delivered a week or so earlier so that I had an opportunity to at least put a few hundred frames on it under test. As it is I have not had time to do much more than shoot a few frames in the backyard and local park to ensure the camera is operating properly. My initial impressions are very positive (the new autofocus system and high ISO performance are truly phenomenal) and I have high hopes for the Canon 1DX. It has been a long time since it was announced back in September last year and I am now very keen to get out into the field to put it through its paces.

I plan to update my blog as regularly as possible throughout the trip and both Bruce and I will also be writing a blog for Moab paper of our experiences in Iceland. Bruce will be travelling with both Canon and Nikon equipment including a Canon 5DMKII and Nikon D800E with lenses for both, as well as a Leica M9 and a large selection of their very finest glass (including some rare and ‘little’ LEE ND graduated filters made specifically for Leica lenses). It is going to be very interesting to see how the little Leica performs in Iceland’s elements. My friend Martyn is bringing a 5D MK3, a 1DS MK3 and his Sony Nex all of which should add to the melting pot of brands and models on hand to compare and contrast. It should be a lot of fun.

See you in Paris.