This August I was able to visit Iceland on my way to Norway and was struck by the beauty of its austere landscape. I live in the Pacific Northwest, where volcanic activity has developed large mountain ranges over time. In Iceland the volcanic activity is much more recent and the landscape is uniquely stark. We spent time based out of Reykjavík and took several day trips before departing for Sweden and Norway.
Keeping this essay about an “undestination” I want to restrain myself from depicting standard attractions in the city, although those abound. I will focus on one compelling piece of modern architecture, viewed somewhat abstractly. The Harpan is a modern concert hall by the harbor and one evening its windows had various reflections that captured my attention from a LCD display in its lobby. I typically work in monochrome more than color but was drawn to the reflections as they changed.
Within a few hours drive of the capital city are many distinct landscapes. There are several standard drives one can take; I appreciated how stark and open the landscape became as one headed south and east. I struggled a bit with the number of tourists like us crowding the standard attractions and was happy to get out on day hikes that were less crowded.
My next time in Iceland, I hope to venture farther afield.
In the picture above we can just see the edge of one of Iceland’s glaciers, north of Rainbow falls. Much of the terrain is rugged and requires off-road vehicles.
One of my favorite days was spent visiting the Westman Islands, a small chain of Islands off the southern coast of Iceland with recent volcanic activity, accessed by an electric ferry. Small newly formed islands can be seen from their coast, including a UNESCO protected volcanic formation that some readers might remember from the 1970’s. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to hike up a steep caldera from the inside.
These photos were taken with a Sony A1. On this trip I tried to pack light. I brought along the excellent Voigtländer 50mm f2 Lanthar APO in native E-mount and two Leica R-mount lenses: the 135/2.8 and the 180/3.4 APO. I also had the Leica R APO 2x teleconverter, which worked quite well with both.
I discovered a couple of technical limitations along the way…
My current copy of the 135 seemed maybe a little soft to me compared to a previous copy I had owned. Or maybe the 180 is indeed such a gem in comparison. I recommend the 180 highly and will need to look at the 135 more critically as I could have just been careless at times. Several years ago I had preferred the rendering of the Leica R 135/2.8 to a copy of the 135/2.0 Zeiss Zf.2 adapted to Sony I had rented. I noticed this trip in contrast I missed focus with the 135 quite a bit, or maybe that it was soft at infinity.
In shooting manually, I missed out on a lot of what the A1 platform offers in terms of autofocus, and I did not take advantage of high frame rate shooting, etc. But, the excellent viewfinder set to monochrome allowed me to compose in a mostly B&W workflow, which allowed me to seek out interesting textures and light.
I had a setting misconfigured in my Sony, and was shooting at 22mp instead of 50mp for my first few days in Iceland. Regardless, I really appreciated the dynamic range of the A1 and did not miss out in my opinion in stepping down from the 60mp offered by the A7R series. Having been with the A7R series since the beginning ( I remember upgrading the lens mount, and reading about brass plates and shutter shock but was so happy to adapt the 35/1.4 ZM Zeiss…), I greatly appreciated the responsiveness of the camera and the quality of the viewfinder in composing and focusing manually.
A difference between previous travels was the speed of cellular networks and having unlimited data while roaming allowed me to work on my photos periodically through the trip on my laptop instead of having to wait until my return. I appreciated this quite a bit as I found it relaxing to have a little quiet time to look through recent excursions versus being daunted by hundreds of images to process once I was back home.
More photos from this trip can be found at innercapture.com. Thank you Pascal for the chance to share some of these memories with the Dear Susan community.
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