At this moment I’m writing this in Edinburgh’s Elephant House, which became an overnight sensation when J.K. Rowling said she wrote the first two Harry Potter books there, which makes it even more fun reflecting on this trip. Warning, there will be a lot of dramatic sunset ‘staring into the horizon’ photos.
This was my first trip to the Scottish highlands. I’ve traveled in Ireland, Scottish lowlands and London throughout the better parts of a year, but spending februari in the coldest and roughest landscape was a different experience. We encountered it all. Sub-zero temperatures at night, sudden snowstorms, hail, rain and wind made it look like Elsa was having a field day with Merida.
Apart from loading up the Frozen and Brave soundtracks on my phone, I did arrive prepared.
© Gavin Grant Photography
Since the major bit of this trip was photography related, my main travel companion was my Lowepro Pro Runner 450 AW . This backpack has been with me for three years, which I bought for my first trip to Sweden. It’s a heavy-duty backpack, suitable for a 15” notebook and a plethora of lenses and accessories. In fact, I use this backpack in day to day when shopping groceries.
For regular travel I have two Pelican 1510 cases, but since each case already weighs over 3 kg, it’s limiting when traveling with low-fair airlines. >>pelican.com
Gear wise, I brought along the amazing Pentax 645Z with 55 2.8 stock lens, Nikon Df with the 14-24 2.8, 24 1.4 and the 85 1.8 (which I didn’t end up using). For loading and editing I brought my 13” MacBook Pro Retina.
One bit of gear that didn’t survive the trip was the Leatherman Style PS. While it’s a small TSA approved tool, I would prefer it to be a regular knife-less leatherman. The equipment it provides is fine, but for the 39.99 I paid, I would have prefered that the clip I attached it with wouldn’t have come loose, making that it’s still somewhere at Glenfinnan Viaduct. When I still did have it, it got checked out by airport security at Charleroi, but it was quickly approved. >>leatherman.com
Note, that when I invest in something, I don’t just expect it to work on a trip, it needs to work in my daily life as well, where one day I might be exploring caves in the morning, and have to go straight up to city hall for a portrait of the mayor. So here is what I wore this past weekend.
Starting from the bottom, I wore my Meindl shoes, which are apart from Goretext waterproof also have a near-indestructible Vibram sole. Giving me great grip on icy roads and slippery rocks, keeping my feet dry from from sinking swampground, and looking decent enough to use as a city shoe. In the better part of the two years I have I’m really happy with this shoe, but still feel slightly disappointed that even this shoe can’t handle my level of abuse with the four million steps I do a year. >>meindl.de
I’ve worn my regular C&A socks, despite working well, I might get more isolating socks to keep my toes warm on a next trip.
For my trousers I relied on the Jack Wolfskin Rainfall Trousers. The exterior is a robust blend of organic cotton. The waterproof thermal lining protects you from rain and cold. Costing around 130 euro, it can be considered be an investment, but the comfort and warmth you get meant that not even the worst rainstorm could tame this pants. The fact that these look like dress trousers makes them even more awesome. >>asadventure.com
© Gavin Grant Photography
The biggest key to keeping warm is layering. There are thousands of articles, but I wore a Disneyland Paris shirt every day. Apart from the cool prints, the high quality of their apparel makes it fun to wear.
As a sweater I chose a Navy Blue C&A Angelo Litrico hoodie. The cotton makes it good at keeping the heat in, yet it’s not too warm inside a warm car. The own hood was great for a quick few steps out of the car in the rain without getting the bulky coat from the car. Perhaps this could be upgraded to a windproof fleece, but for the 9.99 promo I can’t complain.
© Gavin Grant Photography
My hands where kept warm with the Burton Baker 2-In-1 Glove. Big, bulky, but surprisingly fitting. The entire bottom side and fingers are coated with a so called Screen-Grab palm, which is a fancy name for the ability to operate a touchscreen with your gloves on. The only problem is that because of the fingers of the gloves are that big, you won’t be typing anything with it. The fleece interior keeps your fingers warm, and there even is a pocket for a pair of disposable handwarmers.
If they ever where to upgrade the fingers so it’s more easy to type, or manipulate tiny buttons on a camera, I’m game!
The coat is a happy accident. When shooting at Lutex last fall for a christmas shopping campaign, I decided to have a look at their coats, and fell in love at once. Despite it being a bit over my planned budget, its fit and quality amazed me. The now discontinued male model navy blue Blonde No°8 Parka isn’t just wind- and waterproof, it also has Thermore insulation. Its luxurious pockets have enough room in them for a lot of trinkets and gears. Keeping me completely dry and warm in an hour-long hike where it just kept pouring down, it has proven itself worthy for my adventures. (Only it will need a dry-cleaning after this adventure). >>blondeno8.com
My neck and head remained warm thanks to BUFFWEAR. The versatile Buff Polar has the regular BUFF fabric, with a section of their so-called ‘Polartec Classic 100 Fleece’. All I know it’s warm, and no matter how you put it on your head, it’s so nice you will miss it when you’re not wearing it outside. >>buffwear.com
Apart from the BUFF, I also took my old navy Profuomo Pure Casmere Scarf on this trip. Having picked it up at a trip in Maastricht, it’s been with me on the more cold days, and succeeds in keeping me warm. >>profuomo.com
All by all, I’ve been well prepared, and haven’t felt the bitter cold during long night photography, or even when checking out why the traffic was suddenly held up in a surprise snow storm with an inch tick layer of compressed snow and ice on the concrete.
To check out all pictures I took in Scotland, check out my Flickr set here.