When you think idyllic surf trips, do you picture white sand, palms leaning against a tropical breeze, and tanned bodies frolicking in warm, turquoise water? Yeah, most people do. Which is why Chris Burkard, one of the world’s most celebrated surf adventure photographers, tacks a different direction. He specializes in photographing rubber-clad surfers paddling through steel grey oceans and deep blue surf peeling along snow-shrouded beaches, with icebergs and white mountains looming in the distance. Burkard recently returned from a surf trip to Iceland and we wanted to see the kind of gear a photographer packs for a shoot like that. Here’s what he said about packing:

“We couldn’t have ever expected how intense the weather was going to get, but going to Iceland in the winter means you need to be very intentional with the type of gear you bring. In regards to camera gear, it’s a delicate balance between packing light and making sure you’re prepared for unforeseen circumstances. The biggest factor on this trip was how short the days were. In Iceland’s winter, there are only four to five hours of effective daylight and the sun never comes over the horizon. From a photographic perspective, the lack of daylight meant limited opportunities to get the shot.”

Cameras + Photo equipment

Sony A6500 (top of photo): “This is my go to action camera. Since it shoots 11 frames per second I use this when I need that kind of frame rate. It also doubles as a super portable lightweight system for on the move missions.”


Lenses, left to right: 16-70 f/4; 10-18mm f/4

Sony A7rII (middle of photo): “This is my main body. I shoot with this 80 percent of the time. There is so much sensor packed into such a little body. This camera is my workhorse and has well rounded capabilities that make it perfect for almost any style of shooting; from action to landscape this little guy can more than handle it. It’s a dream camera.”

Lenses, left to right: 16-35 f/4; 24-70 f/2.8; 70 – 200 f/4


Sony A7sii (bottom of photo): “This my go to body for shooting at night. It goes without saying that shooting at night means you’re shooting in the absence of light, which translates to high ISO cameras and low-aperture lenses. Once you add in the element of capturing action under the northern lights you’re also required to shoot slightly faster exposures to prevent motion. The Sony A7sII is pretty much a purpose built night camera. It’s designed it with a full frame 12 MP sensor with the idea that each pixel would have more surface area and therefore would be more sensitive to light. Since I knew I was pushing the limits of what was possible in terms of capturing surfing under the Northern Lights, I knew this was the only camera that could pull it off.

Lenses, left to right: 35mm f/1.4; 20mm f/1.4

Tripod: Fotopro FPH-52Q

Water housing: Salty Sony A6500 housing

Support gear/fun stuff

Northern Lights Optic Glasses NL12 (ed note: extremely cool)
Goal Zero Charger
Black Diamond headlamp
Surf Ears Earplugs
Gerber multitool
Axxe 5mm Wetsuit
Da Fin swimfins

Mountainsmith Tanuck 40 Burkard edition camera backpack
Mountainsmith Medium Kit Cube camera bag

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