Don’t worry folks, I’m not really back. This is just a random post on the fly. The new Olympus EM-1 Mark II has apparently been tested in Iceland recently by various review sites and as I was (coincidentally) recently in Iceland myself shooting with the four year old E-M5 Mark I, I thought I might demonstrate that one might not need the latest and greatest gear to return half decent images.
Now I never wish to cast aspersions on anyone else’s work since I pride myself on encouraging people to go out and shoot. That’s what Alpha Whiskey Photography is all about. But the images returned from Iceland by the reviewers of the new EM-1 didn’t impress me as to its capability (I wouldn’t consider buying it anyway); perhaps they only had a limited amount of time or conditions weren’t favourable. I’m not saying my images are any good (haters start your traffic) – they may put you off micro-four thirds even more, and the reduced sizes and quality of images here certainly won’t enlighten you – but in general, well-taken and composed images can promote and entice viewers to a brand and format more effectively, even if it is from an older model (referring to the camera, not myself). Not that gear should really have any bearing on one’s ability to compose, create or see, of course. But the tool does help us do the job.
I realise Iceland has been photographed to death and I may not have anything original to offer but I went there because I had some time to kill and most of the images I captured please me (I’ve always said I’m easily pleased). Each of these images had a story behind them, adding to the overall adventure that I enjoyed.
I had been to this charming little island before but this time I was on my own, driving around its ring road with Eminence Front by The Who blasting out of an SUV that was also my home for the duration of my trip (don’t worry, I had regular showers).
My main aim was to see as much as possible in the limited time I had, which often meant I wasn’t always fortunate enough to have the best light or indeed the best weather. I simply couldn’t be at each location during the golden hour.
Nevertheless, in less than 8 days I crammed in over two dozen waterfalls, glaciers, geysers, canyons, a volcano crater, humpback whales and the aurora borealis, the last of which was a stunning display that was worth the trip alone.
Iceland is, of course, a beautiful land unlike anywhere else, with contrasting landscapes, volatile weather and spectacular natural features. Much of the country was appropriately dressed for the season in autumnal hues, decorating the countless waterfalls, streams and mountains in a kaleidoscope of colour. It is certainly true that one cannot help but regularly stop at the sight of something unexpected and beautiful. I ended up seeing far more than my itinerary intended for me.
Rather bizarrely, the inclement weather towards the end of my trip became particularly severe whenever I visited a place I had been to before, and miraculously cleared up at places I was visiting for the first time. Spooky but jolly kind.
Well, nearly 3000km and a supertanker of diesel later I had made it back to where I had started my journey at Kirkjufell in Snaefellsness, the most photographed mountain in Iceland. A small sense of accomplishment quietly crept under a stronger longing to finally get back home, light up a fat one and swig down a cold one. Job done. It was fun.
I must thank my good friend Brubaker for all his invaluable help kitting me out for vehicular camping and navigation. Without his help I would literally be lost, cold and powerless. He was due to join me on this adventure but alas draconian employers would not free him from work.
I must also thank my good friend and fellow photographer Parrish who very generously lent me a set of ND and graduated filters, enabling me to capture some long exposures, particularly at the glacier lagoon.
And I also wish to thank the lovely young woman, Joy (from Colorado), also travelling around Iceland herself, who spent a day with me on the south coast exploring hidden waterfalls.
Most of these shots were made with the E-M5 and 12-40mm f/2.8 and 40-150mm f/2.8 lenses. It is fortunate that they were all weather-sealed as the relentless soaking they got from either waterfalls or rain did nothing to diminish their operation. I used the DSLR (not weather-sealed) primarily for the auroras (although I did capture a couple with the E-M5), as the larger sensor was more capable at capturing them. All images were processed to my personal taste in Lightroom.
As usual my article contributes absolutely nothing to anyone, which is why I won’t be posting much more here in future. But I hope you have enjoyed this very small snapshot from my little drive around Iceland. You can see more on my blog, from where this article was reproduced. On to my next adventure…
WOW, that is all.
That’s a lot to me! Thanks Gary! :)
Beautiful images. Amazing little country. We were there in August and I am still culling my images. What a task that is! Cheers!
Same here May!
Many thanks! :)
Very nice images! I’m an Olympus user myself and I like it for the lightweight system and excellent lens.
Thank you Vincent. Yep it’s a great system :)
The unusual imagination of your work, combined with your wry humour combine to make me hope you will continue to post on PL.
Thank you Art I really appreciate that :)
AW, ‘Fan’-tastic photographs! Please please please don’t stop posting here! You are one of the reasons I visit this site. Like you, I am all about going out and shooting to my heart’s content. I am put off by technical articles and feel that there is too much of it these days :)! You are breath of fresh air!
Congrats on wonderful trip across Iceland.
Thank you very much Raghu!! I really appreciate that :) If I believe I have anything worthwhile to contribute in future I may do so. But I’d like to focus on filling my blog so that’s where my photos will be :)
Onto your blog then, AW! I can only dream of such talent. Going by the number of ‘wow’ comments here, I can only infer people like your stuff dude! Wishing you many wonderful trips around the planet. Cheers.
Many thanks Raghu! And thanks for visiting my blog! :)
Very inspiring pictures! They give new inspiration so it is absolutely not true that you contribute absolutely nothing to anyone:) please post more!
Thank you Max! I appreciate that. Maybe I will drop by again :)
Neat shots Sharif. It’s too bad the Oly press trip didn’t have the… luck? skill? whatever that you do – the photos I’ve seen from the new EM1 II are snapshots, these are lovely. I hope you keep contributing, I like how light-hearted your posts are.
Thank you Sean, I appreciate that! If Olympus ever ask me I’d be happy to oblige! :)
Beautiful photos so many of places I can’t recall seeing before. Thanks for taking the risk and the time to go off-road, and maybe hike thru cold winds and rain, to share these shots with us. And to write up an entertaining and thoughtful post.
Thank you Jim, I appreciate that :)
Excellent work Alpha Whiskey! You really are too modest. Your image of Skogafoss is awesome. I love how some of the people are blurred.
Would you care to talk a little bit about your itinerary? Where you stayed and how many of them did you book ahead of time? Or was your schedule entirely free and you stayed wherever there was vacancy? How did you find out about some of the lesser known gems?
Thank you KomradeKiev :) I’m glad you like the Skogafoss image; it was one of the places I had visited before and thus the weather poured rain and wind onto me while I was there. So I decided to shoot it from a distance with the zoom lens (which had a long hood to keep out the rain) and render it B+W to lend it some atmosphere and get a useable image out of it :)
My itinerary would be too extensive to cover here but I may write a post about it on my blog in the future. I basically travelled clockwise from Kirkjufellsfoss around the Ring Road stopping at all the main sites that I could find. I started in the north because I had seen the south coast before – it was a lucky decision asI had good weather for the things I hadn’t seen before. I didn’t book anything at all and slept in the back of my rented SUV, parking in the evening at campsites (I researched were they were) that were officially closed but had restroom and shower facilities available. Not being beholden to booked accommodation and having my vehicle as my lodging meant I had the freedom to travel as and when and wherever I wanted. Many, many people were traveling around Iceland this way, including Joy, the woman I referred to in the article. I did some research beforehand to find out about some of the lesser known places. Certain places are accessible depending on the season (for instance I didn’t get to see the ice caves in the south as they aren’t accessible until November).
Great pictures sharif. I plan to travel to icelend whenever i can spare the money and time. It is truly a beautiful country. Man, youve got women everywhere.
LOL Muhammad!! *Almost* everywhere ;) Thank you, and I hope you do get to visit Iceland :)