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…