Photoessay: last of the Icelandic singles

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I have a slightly embarrassing confession to make: there are images that I can’t let go of, but probably should. They are remnants from my trip to Iceland nearly a year ago, but standalones that really didn’t fit in with any of the other series. It’s a sort of artefact of the site setup that posting single images is tricky because it breaks pattern too much unless there’s a whole thought catalog to go with it; the unfortunate result is that I’ve got a whole graveyard folder of images that work independently, but can’t really be curated into a photoessay or series. Some find life again as featured images, others land up illustrating specific posts, and yet others still – like this one – are held together tenuously enough by some rather weak thread that perhaps I can still post them. I admit it: I couldn’t curate these anywhere, nor could I let them go, but there’s still some emotional attachment. I’m sure somebody will use it to beat me over the head to remind me of curation discipline, and I’d probably deserve it. In the meantime…MT

Shot with the Hasselblad X1D Field Kit and processed with PS Workflow III.

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Photoessay: From the mountains

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Following on in the series of Icelandic landscapes, today we go inland a bit and bring you a series from the volcanic mountains. Strongly directional light, unfiltered by clouds, plus ‘sharp’ underlying topology that’s relatively new (and thus in places uneroded) in geological terms leads to some very interesting textures. I found the challenge when working in this kind of landscape to be one of context: interesting textures and shadows only remain interesting when seen against other elements to gauge relative ‘hardness’ and size; isolate one element and you somehow the whole thing doesn’t work; yet often light wasn’t dramatic enough to really make a single small element clearly pop against a much larger canvas. 90mm (about 70mm-e) turned out to be the most useful focal length here; mountains are relatively far apart, so some compression is required to avoid emptiness; yet some width is also required because of sheer scale. I kept wondering if some shift might be useful to give the mountains a bit more weight, but to be honest – we’d probably need far more than possible without a technical camera and large format lenses. MT

Shot with the Hasselblad X1D Field Kit and processed with PS Workflow III.

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Photoessay: Watercourse

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Being an island, water is of course unavoidable pretty much everywhere you go in Iceland – it shapes the country and often emerges in spectacular form from the least expected of places. Volcanic rock is of course extremely hard and resilient, but eventually the water wins; what I found most mind-boggling about the landscape wasn’t the scale, spectacle or extremes – but the fact that it will continue to change dramatically. What we see is but an instantaneous snapshot of a work in progress that will only get more spectacular with time, assuming a) we as the human race are still around to see it, and b) we haven’t somehow messed it up ourselves. I do realise the irony in that thought – and I’m sure many people will point out that I’m directly contributing to b) by merely visiting. Yet without more of us going and exploring to know what ought to be preserved, we can’t preserve it – or more importantly, give the landscape enough visibility in the wider social context so that people are aware that it needs to be preserved. Curiously, quantum mechanics is correct again even at this scale: we influence the outcome by measuring (recording) it…MT

Shot with the Hasselblad X1D Field Kit and processed with PS Workflow III.

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Photoessay: Icelandic seascapes

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Today’s series of images are some of the ones that stuck from my trip to Iceland a few months back – specifically, the seascapes. I was only there for a week, so seasonal weather variations were minimal. Nevertheless, we did get some drama in the skies (though no truly bad storms, thankfully). That said, I’m still one of those people who believes there’s no such thing as light that’s impossible to work with; better/worse, yes, but even the crummiest weather conditions can yield something visually interesting. Oddly, I have to admit that one of the scenes that spoke the most to me was the stones on the beach: constantly moist from spray and waves, they glistened, jewel-like. At a macro level, they look pretty perfect; at the micro level, despite being polished for years by the waves – none of them are quite. The closer you look, the harder it is to find perfection. I’m sure there’s probably a photographic moral in there somewhere. MT

Shot with the Hasselblad X1D Field Kit and processed with PS Workflow III.

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Drone diaries/ Photoessay: Over Iceland

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I’m going to start this post with a confession: I lost/crashed a drone during the making of these, which is why there’s no video of me flying through the sea arch at Hellnar, or of that double sided beach where the waves pound a narrow strip of rocks. (I do have the stills from the Hasselblad though, which I’ll post in the near future.) Feeling confident after the flight low over the surf and through the arch, I went a bit further out to sea to do a flyby of the coastal cliffs, and an orbit of a sea stack. Mistake number one: I wasn’t high enough, and the signal was looking a bit ropey. That should probably have been enough of a clue that something was going to go wrong. Mistake number two: I underestimated the winds between the cliffs and the rocks – and there’s not really any way to judge wind speed remotely, other than sponginess of controls and lack of manoeuvring overhead as the bird uses more and more of its available reserve power to fight the wind. Mistake number three: I was flying sideways so the gimbal and camera would be pointed in the correct position to film, which meant that I didn’t really have much idea of what was behind me (the Mavic doesn’t have rearward or sideways sensors). What I surmise happened is that I got too close to the cliffs behind me, and a gust of wind did the rest. Game over.

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Video: Dispatches from land’s end, and FW 1.19

 

I recently got a chance to shoot for a week in Iceland with the Hasselblad X1D Field Kit. I was a bit torn in not bringing the H6D-100c, but the uncertain weather, walking distances etc. landed up tipping things in favour over the small weather-sealed box, and I’m quite glad they did – conditions weren’t exactly pleasant, but the gear survived just fine. If you look closely you may also spot one of my favourite lenses, adapted…Interestingly, the e-shutter behaviour (0.3s rolling sensor readout time) is such that you get a free motion blur effect even at high shutter speeds, negating the need for neutral density filters on things like waterfalls; you’ll see this as I post the stills in due course. There will also be a full set of stills with raw files (probably the first time ever for me) available as image samples via the Hasselblad website.

In the meantime, enjoy the video – and be sure to watch it full screen at full resolution; we shot it in 4K… MT

Lastly: there’s also new firmware (v1.19) available for the H6D and X1D today; you can download that here. For the H6D, it adds CF adaptor support, folder management, more custom button options and a few other tweaks. For the X1D, it’s a pretty major update including using the rear screen as an AF point selection touchpad while using the EVF; extensive button customisation options; EVF-only LV, and a ‘bokeh fix’. The latter allows the lens aperture to open beyond the physical stop of the lens, which means that circular opening is the only limit allowing smooth circles at maximum aperture. This works on all lenses and also gains a (tiny) bit of speed. ūüôā

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More info on Hasselblad cameras and lenses can be found here.

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