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What’s In My Bag: Chris Burkard's Minimal Kit For An Iceland Expedition

I shoot in some pretty harsh conditions. In fact I’ve honestly based a large part of my career to being in the cold, going to places people seldom go, and doing things most people wouldn't do. For me as a professional, this often means long nights, cold mornings, and camping out in front of a tripod waiting for the conditions to line up. Being willing to do this is really important, I think that there is an important lesson in this: that sometimes to get things to line up you have a put yourself in a situation that isn’t normal. Whether that be wading out into a river to capture your buddy jumping in, or taking the extra long detour to get that angle for sunset. Taking that extra time and energy and devoting it to the shot can really be the difference between producing something that you’re simply happy with or something that you're really stoked on.

See the gear Sony Artisan Chris Burkard relies on for an Iceland expedition with the Alpha Collective. #AICdoesIceland

I find that having a kit that is minimal but covers all your bases is imperative to a successful expedition. Too much gear can weigh you down and make it so you are missing shots, but at the same time, if you don't want to be unprepared for a moment by not having what you need! This is a somewhat lightweight kit that I could shoot nearly any assignment on!

Camera

Sony α7R IV: This is my main go-to camera because of its ability to pull out huge detail (in shadows and highlights) when in post, has nearly 15 stops of dynamic range, and gives me the flexibility to crop in on my final images. In more ways then one this is my dream camera!

Sony α9: I cut my teeth shooting surf in the days of film, so having the ability to shoot 20 frames a second is still something I have trouble wrapping my head around. This is absolutely my go-to camera for any high action scene including surf, snow, and aerial photography. Its ability to capture sequences is unparalleled and where before you'd be lucky to get one good photo from a sequence you now have multiple.

Lenses

Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master, Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master, Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master: These three lenses form the basic kit for 90% of the shoots. I’d have to say that nearly 75% of the images I create end up being from one of these lenses. For landscapes and wider lifestyle scenes, the 16-35mm allows me to create images in fast-moving situations while still allowing for that drop-off you are looking for in lifestyle situations. I tend to look at landscapes and situations from a wider perspective, so this lens is a staple in my workflow. The 24-70mm is my workhorse. For lifestyle and more run and gun situations this lens allows me to cover all of your traditional prime focal lengths in one lens. If I had to only have one lens, it would probably have to be this one! I also often shoot scenes where my subject is far away and there is a landscape behind them I am looking to compress. The 70-200mm is my go-to lens for that type of scene. It has laser fast focus tracking which is crucial when you're shooting subjects that are moving at high speeds.

Sony 35mm f/1.4: My favorite prime focal length. It delivers beautiful bokeh, is the most versatile focal length for the type of work I shoot. While I oftentimes have multiple primes with me on a shoot, if im going lightweight this is the one I can’t leave out of the bag!

Accessories

Prototype of my new Mountain Smith Signature Bag: A bag I’m very excited about and have been working closely with Mountain Smith on for awhile now. Full of useful design features I've come up with over years of using different bags on trips and these early prototypes have already proven to be an absolute workhorse. More information to come soon!

PeakDesign Travel Tripod: Two years ago I sat with my friend Peter at Peak Design to discuss all the issues I found with the bulky modern-day design of tripods. He told me about an idea he had that at the time I thought it was impossible. Well after a little bit of refinement, it’s here and I don’t leave home without it.

Medium Kit Cube: I have found that these cubes are what suit my shooting style best. I don’t want to be limited by any given backpack, this way my packing system can stay the same between backpacks and while I shoot I can stay mobile and have anything by my side by simply taking the cube out of my bag and slinging it across a shoulder.

OlloClip iPhone Lens: The best camera you have is the one that is always with you, and that is usually your iPhone. The OlloClip allows me to break some limitations with the fixed lens on the iPhone and allows me to get a wider shot or even shoot a test frame before breaking out the real camera!

PolarPro Polarizers: I use polarizer on so much of my work! They add a richness to your colors and cut reflections down to make things seem more natural and less harsh. Really love what they do to images and would recommend everyone try them out! My go-tos have been the PolarPro.

goMacro Protein Bar: These bars are all-natural and delicious all at the same time. They also last forever which helps on those long trips out in the wild where you might need a bit of protein to not go insane.

Black Diamond Trekking Poles: These walking poles are super light-weight, pack down really small, and save your knees on those long intense hikes. They are literally a lifesaver if you find yourself in muddy or wet terrain also.

Black Diamond Headlamp: These headlamps are small, lightweight, and have a retractable string so they are definitely travel-friendly without getting anything tangled. I will always pack one of these in any camera bag just in case I find myself in a dark situation. They also work well for light painting if I want to brighten up a spot in any of my night shots.

Northern Lights Optics Sunglasses: I worked with Northern Lights to design a sleek a pair of modern glacier glasses that you could take out on the slopes, trail, or even the city! I don't leave home without them. When you work relies on your eyesight I do everything I can to protect them!

Graduated Neutral Density Filters: I keep these on me all the time. For landscape with a ton of dynamic range between the sky and the shadows, I will sometimes break these down to attain a more even exposure to rely less on processing the file in post. I've used a bunch of different ones and lately, I’ve been using Haida!

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