First of all, I learnt that I am incredibly OCD when it comes to advance planning. Which is great for you if you're reading this. Gone are the days of Lonely Planet Guides and suitcases full of guidebooks. Every conceivable piece of knowledge you could ever need is just a click away, so start clicking!
I opted to use Dropbox Paper for all of my advance planning. The joy of Paper is that each document is easily customisable, stored in the cloud but available offline, and each sub-heading is automatically indexed to be easily searchable from a sidebar. You can also add other members of your party so you can all share the same information, and if you choose, you can add pithy comments and witty asides in the interactive comments section.
I created a dedicated document of Icelandic Amenities that included Gas Stations, Restaurants, Supermarkets, Outdoor Supply and Electronics stores and created a Google Map link next to each one so we could find them with a single click. This was genuinely useful and saved a lot of Google time whilst on the road.
I created one main document for all my locations, split into the two main areas we were visiting. I researched sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times for each area and had those at the top of the document, along with tide times for each day of the trip using Mobile Geographics.
For each location, I decided on a series of goals beforehand. This was essential as we were splitting our time between landscape photography and creating content for a new App we're developing as Scene & Herd. That allowed us to *believe* we were staying focused whilst, in reality, we were indeed getting lost in the moment and forgetting all of our goals.
For each specific location, I included a Google Map link, some bullet points on the qualities of the location, a list of potential challenges and things to look out for, followed by some shooting trips I'd gleaned from the online world which included some ballpark camera settings to try as a starting point. I also included a series of images in my document for inspiration which gave me ideas for specific locations, light types and angles I'd target when I got out in the field. Each morning, before setting out for the day, I'd read over the information I had for the shoot ahead which really helped me prepare. Clearly, on arrival at each location, the subject matter looked *completely* different than any of the photos I'd bookmarked but they gave me a starting point at the very least.
I used a couple of Apps in the field - Photo Pills and TPE. These are both great advance planning tools for photo shoots, with Photo Pills being especially powerful if you're willing to dive deep. I used them primarily to calculate the sunlight angles so I could anticipate where I needed to be at specific times. In reality, I didn't use either of them much in the field other than to calculate the movement of the sun in real time, which, on reflection, I could have done more easily using my eyes. The Apps would have been more useful had the clouds parted for a minute, or if we'd had clear skies at night. Which we didn't.
This may all seem like overkill but all of these advance measures helped things run smoothly when I was out in a completely unfamiliar landscape ... after all, I want to be focusing on the main course and not the logistics of how I’m going to be getting to the restaurant, or the location.