Tech in the outdoors?

It’s a modern day problem for those who love the outdoors. I’m talking about the role of the devices we can’t live without and crucially what to take and when. You might fall into one of two camps here. There are those for whom the outdoors represents a chance to escape all the technology and the never-ending stream of work emails. This is the cold turkey brigade and although admirable they are a shrinking minority. Then there are those who have embraced all that the technology has to offer. They want to film on their GoPro, edit some clips in camp that night and post to social media. Photographers and journalists are long used to processing their material on the move. But it requires practice and efficiency to do it quickly.

A typical morning at Poon Hill, Annapurna. (Dhaulagiri in the background)

A typical morning at Poon Hill, Annapurna. (Dhaulagiri in the background)

Is it possible to take too many gadgets? Yes of course it is. I love my technology but I have witnessed many a trip get completely hijacked by trying to record every twist and turn of events. Digital media allows us to amass so much material that we could never realistically watch it. How many of us are sitting on thousands of photos and video clips that we mean to edit? If you haven't got the time then learn the lesson and take less - or perhaps none at all. How many of us have been to a famous view (see the picture of Poon Hill) only to be subjected to a barrage of flashbulbs as the sun rises. It’s a pretty pointless picture and if you want a memory then buy a postcard later. Why bother with the camera when you could step away from the crowds and just enjoy the moment? The answer I presume is that we have a paranoia about missing out, the chance to post on social media and tell others just what an exciting time we’re having. It boils down to one thing- just why are you there? To impress others or to experience something yourself?

Anyway here are my 5 top tips for handling technology in the outdoors. Comments are always welcome….

Focus on one project or theme for your trip. Either make a film, take some good stills or keep a diary but don’t try and do all three. You would be hopelessly distracted.

Create original content. Don't waste time on scenes and experiences that are already well recorded. Look to make your material original and unique.

Less is more. Modern attention spans are short. How many photos would you like to see of your friend’s latest trip? A hundred perhaps? Twenty, or how about five? I would suggest the latter; five really quality photographs that sum up the trip. The same applies to video. A one-week trip could easily be condensed to a film of less than a minute.

How will you keep your equipment charged? Any gadget is useless if it runs out of juice and you end up carrying a dead weight. That just smacks of bad planning on your part. Read the blog post here on ways of charging in the outdoors. 

Choose your gadgets carefully. The days of multiple cameras are long gone unless you’re a pro. The wonder of the modern smartphone is such that it can take good stills and video, edit the footage, as well as double up as diary, dictaphone and even GPS. Most modern cameras also now take excellent video. Likewise A GoPro camera takes great wide-angle stills. Remember the FLIP dedicated video cameras of not so long ago? Who bothers with one now? Gadgets have to be multipurpose.

Filming in Iran with a camera that seems old fashioned

Filming in Iran with a camera that seems old fashioned