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The Gearzette


- December 22, 2021

As we look into the new year and start plotting out leave days, travel schedules and epic destinations, we thought it a good idea to ground our plans in some ‘real’ resolutions. We believe these are bound to enrich your travel experiences of 2022. Anything to add to the list?

© Adrian Van Water

1. 6 Tips To Take Your Travel Photography To The Next Level​

Turn those holiday happy snaps into ‘real’ images. There are various online courses and YouTube tutorials you could watch, but mastering a basic skill on your next outing is a great starting point:

1. Get the horizon straight​:

A very simple tip that goes a long way. Look at any professional photographer’s work and you will notice that the horizon is always 100% level in their images.​

2. Use a polarising filter​:

If you invest in one filter only, let it be a polarising filter: It’s a travel and wildlife photographer’s best friend - cutting out glare, saturating blues and greens (making the sky look a lot better) and giving portraits character.

3. Five different angles of the same subject​:

If the light is right (the proverbial golden hours will always rule) and you’ve found a good subject, work it. And by that we mean ‘saturate’ shoot it. Start by taking the standard photo everyone takes, then try to find at least five different angles – macro, abstract, high, low, backlit and so on.​

4. Use the light​:

“Light is your most powerful tool,” says collaborator, Bartek Kolaczkowski, a professional automotive and travel photographer. “Study the light every day and take photos during different times of the day (and night for some astrophotography shots)” he says.​

5. Play with shutter speeds:​

Those spectacular shots where it looks as though the waterfall or river is moving are easier to take than you think: Mount your camera on a tripod and experiment with slow shutter speeds and long exposures. Once you’ve got those down, graduate to star trails.​

6. Focus on the eyes:

​If you are photographing any form of wildlife, make sure the eye of the animal is in focus. This creates immediate engagement with the subject animal. (Bonus: This is true of portraiture too).

© Janik Alheit

2. Go solo​

It doesn’t have to be a long trip and it doesn’t have to be far from home, but (and bear with us through the psychology here) in today’s manically connected world, everyone can benefit from a solo trip now and then. Apart from being able to do as you please, in just one trip you’ll learn how to become self-reliant and trust your instincts, all while getting invaluable experience.

© Alex Strohl

3. Go where there is no cellphone signal​

Not so easy anymore (and, when going off the grid we always recommend some form of emergency satellite communication device and proper satellite navigation) but take one trip where you are totally free of your phone. It might sound silly reading it (on your phone!) right now, but true disconnection has a profoundly liberating effect on people. It means you will be more present and connected to the experience at hand and push you to think on your feet to solve problems.

© Olivia O'Prey

4. More micro adventures​

We’re big fans of the big post-Covid trend of ‘more smaller adventures.’ You cannot always take weeks of leave or have the means to travel 1000s of kilometres. That doesn’t mean the spirit of adventure should be squashed, on the contrary, challenge yourself to at least one micro adventure a month and explore your ‘backyard’ - those destinations within weekend range. You’ll be surprised what you find.

© Expedition Rove

5. Start that checklist​

‘I should’ve packed that… I could’ve left this.’ How often have you said it halfway through a trip? ‘Need to remember that for next time.’ Start that checklist! Whether you do it in a trendy travel journal or on one of the countless Apps out there, start detailing those small, highly-specific items of gear that take overlanding to the next level. We know overlanders who have refined their lists over the years and have turned it into something of a science. They have specific lists for each type of adventure. And no, they’re not sharing! The reason: What works for them might not necessarily suit your travel style.

© Craig Rhodes-Harrison

6. Then, pack intelligently​

Now that your checklist(s) is starting to take shape, make a point of packing more efficiently for your next trip. Start the planning and packing earlier by making use of things such as the Wolf Pack Pro and the Spade Mount. Those same overlanders with the refined lists pack and mount the same items of gear in the same places for each trip, that way you’re never scratching to find your headlamp or coffee mug.

© Justin Kauffman

7. At least one big adventure-activity trip

Turn at least one trip into a dedicated adventure activity mission this year. Drive somewhere not with the idea of (only) driving and exploring the beautiful landscape but with the goal of accomplishing something. Pack the paddleboard or kayak and explore that waterway. In South Africa, go to the Richtersveld, to catch a largemouth yellowfish on fly-fishing tackle. The largemouth yellowfish (Labeobarbus kimberleyensis) is undoubtedly South Africa’s most iconic indigenous freshwater fly target. To catch one from under a rock ledge in a deep, reed-fringed pool with the rocky Richtersveld mountains as backdrop; and then watching it swim off strongly after they release, is something momentous.

© Benjamin Hardman

8. Try a different season​

Take a trip to a regular destination in an ‘unusual’ season. For example, throughout most of South and East Africa, peak safari season has traditionally coincided with the dry winter season (roughly from July to October). Old wisdom holds that this is when game viewing is ‘easiest’ because of the lack of vegetation and animals gathering at what remains of waterholes.​ The wetter ‘green season’ is something special however. For those willing to go out of ‘peak season’ park numbers are low, which means lower rates and game viewing experiences are out of the ordinary. Or if you want a quieter breakaway to Jasper, Banff or Canmore visit in the Rockies’ low season from September to October; or between May to June.​

© Alessandro Sgro

9. Off-set your carbon footprint

According to some statistics, tourism is responsible for roughly 8% of the world’s carbon emissions, making it a significant contributor to climate change. The reality is that every time we hit the road, travel on a plane, or create waste, carbon emissions are being generated. There are many ways that you can minimise your carbon footprint while traveling and various projects and organisations through which you can offset some of your emissions. The most basic way to start is by planting trees.​

© Craig Kolesky

10. Learn a new skill​

Choose one new driving or overloading skill and work on getting it dialled. Such as reversing with a trailer (it’s all about the opposite direction counter steer), or being confident on soft sand:​

1. Deflate your tyres (1 bar all round is a good starting point)​

2. Momentum is key, without going too fast to lose control. You want to ‘float’ over the sand or soft surface.

3. Choose the correct gear. There are two schools of thought here - low range and high range. In general terms, second or third gear low range will give you enough momentum for twisty dunes or soft, sandy dual tracks. If it is a sand road on which you can safely travel over 35kmh/22mph high range first gear is the call.