Here’s a picture of Skogafoss in Iceland treated a little differently to my usual. This picture was taken on a very dull, miserable morning to be honest and the day really didn’t hold any promise for a photograph of any sort, or so I thought. I took some pictures anyway, despite the conditions, of course. Processing the pictures in black and white however with a low key approach, there was a picture there after all. There really is no such thing as bad weather..
Last Saturday, I met up with a good friend Runólfur Hauksson aka Ronnie, and spent a couple of days taking photographs and getting to know the area around Höfn (pronounced Hup as in up) a great deal better. I visited Stokksness and Horn back at the beginning of March and you can see my post from that time here. It was great to be visiting again and meeting up with such good friends.
A little local knowledge is a wonderful thing and Ronnie took me to the well hidden site of a wrecked fishing boat that has lain in this spot for the past 100 years. The boat made a fabulous subject for a photograph and added that little something extra to my photos of this very dramatic piece of coastline so, thank you once again my friend, for this and many more photographs I have yet to process. It was a great couple of days!
As you can see, I was struggling to choose between these the images so decided to post them all. Please click on the images for a clearer, sharper view. Perhaps you have a favourite..
About a year ago, I donated a framed photograph to a charity raffle. After the raffle had been drawn, a lady approached me saying how much she liked the photograph and how disappointed she was that she hadn’t won it. She was so nice, I endeavoured to find out who she was which I did. I then framed another copy of the photo and sent it to her. You can see the photo that the lady liked so much here.
We exchanged emails and I was made to promise that if I were ever to visit Iceland, I must get in touch. Visiting Iceland at the time was not something I had considered but I guess the seed was sown and when I finally decided to make the journey, I did get in touch. What followed were lots of suggestions of where to visit and several introductions to people, one of whom was a university friend who lived in Höfn.
I was delighted when I, along with Poppy, Poppy’s BB and my friend Chris were invited to dinner with Hulda and her partner Róbert. We had a traditional Sunday roast, a meal that Hulda explained she’d enjoyed every Sunday since she was a child; roast lamb with rosemary, roast potatoes and vegetables. There was one additional condiment from the UK that Hulda explained she bought from a specialist shop in Reykjavik and who can argue with how well mint jelly goes with lamb. I was surprised how similar the meal was to the Sunday roast that I’d grown up with. We had a wonderful evening and it was such a pleasure to make new friends.
During the course of the evening I asked Hulda where she would recommend we visit while we were in Höfn. Horn was the answer and these are the photographs that followed. It was a very wild day, the wind was roaring in our ears and bringing tears to our eyes but we had some sunshine as you can see along with some very heavy snow. Thank you Hulda and Róbert once again for a fabulous evening. This post is dedicated you.
From Akureyri, our onward journey would take us to Höfn, pronounced hup. So far as I can tell, to get close to the right pronunciation of this little town, you need to say hup as in up while inhaling sharply. Höfn is in the south-east of Iceland and would mark the three-quarters of the way around the island point in our circumnavigation of the island of Iceland.
Thankfully weather conditions had calmed down but the roads were still quite treacherous. We split the journey in two, opting to stay one night in some apartments right on the coast at Seydisfjordur. Unfortunately, at the last minute, our bookings were cancelled due to some filming going on at the harbour. We were relocated to a hotel at Egilsstaðir.
Writing an email of complaint in response to the cancellation, I pointed out that one of the reasons for booking an apartment was so that we could cater for ourselves rather than face expensive restaurant bills. I was on a budget. I was rewarded with an email back saying that the hotel room would now include dinner and breakfast. This was a good result and actually quite a nice interlude in our journey around the island. We had a delicious 3 course meal at the hotel and the breakfast the following morning wasn’t bad either.
Committing to the journey south meant accepting that I wasn’t going to see Dettifoss. We’d tried to get there a few days before setting off for Höfn. The waterfall is immense. There is more water tumbles over this waterfall than any other in Europe and it’s a pretty magnificent sight. The road to the falls was marked as impassable on the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration website. We wondered if perhaps the road was impassable along its entire length but perhaps passable as far as the falls. Programming the location into our GPS we’d set of.
After about half a mile, we’d come across a couple with suitcases and bags walking towards us. Looking beyond the couple, 2 or 300 hundred yards further back, we could see a VW Golf firmly buried in a snow drift. They’d clearly given up trying to get the car out and were heading back to the main road with all their belongings, abandoning the car.
Before setting off on that particular day, I’d seen a shovel outside our apartment for clearing the step and I’d thought that if we were going to tackle an impassable road, a shovel might come in handy. It did, we were able to dig this couple’s Golf out of the hole they’d dug themselves into. They were naturally very grateful, thanking us many times as they packed their belongings back into their car.
Free of the snow, they turned around and drove off toward the main road before stopping and turning around again, driving towards us once more. The young lady got out of the car and came running towards us ‘Are you going to Dettifoss?’ she asked. That was still our plan despite this snow drift. We were in a 4×4 Jeep Grand Cherokee, they were in a front wheel drive Golf. No match for the conditions.
She clearly thought that perhaps if we made tracks for them to follow, they might make it through. We weren’t sure if we’d make it through ourselves yet and feeling a little guilty, I’d replied that we weren’t sure. They were lining themselves up to get stuck again but having a Jeep in the lead with a shovel, perhaps this wouldn’t matter. We though that perhaps it would. She returned to the car. We could see them having an earnest discussion. The man shaking his head, the woman appearing to plead. He clearly made a convincing and sensible argument and after a few minutes they set off again, back toward to main road.
The drift the Golf had been buried in was deep but we made it though and pressed on. We drove through drift after drift but each time we hit a drift, we could see clear road the other side of the deep snow. After a while though, we came a section of the road where the snow was considerably deeper, getting on for two and three feet, as far as we could see. No patches of road surface visible anywhere.
Once you hit snow that is deeper than the clearance of your chassis, you start to ask rather a lot of your vehicle. We were able to plough through short sections of deeper snow by keeping up momentum but we figured we were going to be asking a lot of the Jeep to tackle what lay ahead. With snow showers clearly visible all around us. We admitted defeat and turned around. We’d done well. It was just a km or so to the falls.
If not for my MS we would have hiked to the falls for sure. It was very disappointing but to a certain extent, this was the price we paid for travelling to Iceland in winter. We’d turned back several times prior to this. We’d had doubts, turned around, driven a while only to overcome those doubts and to turn around only to drive on for a while before fresh doubts set it. Anyone observing might have found our antics rather comical. We might have been braver but back at the main road, there was a sign saying that there was no 122 service on this road. No mobile phone signal, no tracking service. If we’d got stuck, I wouldn’t have been able to walk out and we wouldn’t have been able to phone for help. We made the right decision to visit Dettifoss another time.
Here’s a short clip of our drive back to the main road. A couple of the more minor drifts of snow we encountered along the way..
Below are some pictures I took on our drive to Höfn. When I saw the blue barn below followed shortly after by a blue church, I wondered if the farmer, and those in charge of the maintenance of the little church had taken advantage of the same deal on paint at Iceland’s equivalent of B&Q or Home Depot. A good colour choice all round I’d say.
When I took this final picture, it was one of only a very few occasions when standing in the middle of the main road the runs around Iceland taking photos, that a car actually came along. I was quite glad when this one did. I definitely think the car, with headlights blazing, adds to the image. I hope you enjoy the images.
Day 5 came around very quickly. I don’t think I’ve ever posted every day like this. Quite a challenge in itself. I’d like to just thank Sue J from Words Visual once again for inviting me to join in. It’s been great, I’ve enjoyed it and learnt a lot from it. I think as photographers we’re constantly learning and hopefully evolving and this challenge, although I was already exploring black and white film, has made me really stop and think about how we approach black and white as a distinct medium.
I’ve wanted to present a diverse range of images. On sunday, I posted a high key photograph of daffodils. Today I’m posting a low key photograph of Edward, a good friend who’s been with me a long time..
On my final day I’m going to invite Otto Von Munchow to take up the challenge. Otto writes a great deal about the art of photography, the creative process and how we should challenge ourselves in order to grow as photographers. Like me, I know Otto generally doesn’t get involved in these challenges and I also know that he’s a very busy man. However, we have talked about my interest in vintage cameras and film photography so although I don’t expect Otto to take up the 5 day challenge (although it’d be great if he did) I’d like to challenge him to dig out that darkroom stuff, buy the Rolleiflex he’s wanted for a long time, and to start taking pictures the old way again. I know that it’s doing my photography the world of good and bringing a nice breath of fresh air into the whole creative process.
It’s day four of the five day black and white challenge that Sue J kindly invited me to take up. I don’t usually get involved in these kinds of challenges but this one seemed very timely given I’ve been exploring black and white film. My first two images, came from my film cameras and were planned black and white photographs. Yesterday’s photo was a digital conversion from a colour photograph as is this picture. The difference with this one is that with grey skies, ocean and rocks, the image was very monochromatic to start with, the conversion wasn’t a huge leap. This is a double, long, exposure, accentuating I think, the dynamic nature of wind and tide. The picture was taken on the beach at Constantine Bay here in Cornwall. Something a little different. Click on the picture for a larger and sharper view, it does make a difference.. :-)
Today I’d like to invite Mike to take up the challenge. Mike frequently treats us to some superb black and white photography on his blog Mike’s Look at Life. I’m hoping he’ll share some more over the next five days but only if time allows of course..
I’m happy to say that Angi has taken up the challenge and you can see her black and white photos on her blog, Moments in Time
For day 3 of the 5 day black and white challenge, I’ve gone back to my roots as it were. I guess I’m best known for my landscape photography work so I suppose it’s fitting that I post a few black and white landscape photographs but this presented me with a problem because for the most part, I’m not a fan of black and white landscape photography. I love colour. Why hide so much of what makes our planet so beautiful by taking away the colour?
I was very much of the same opinion when it came to photographing flowers in monochrome but yesterday’s photograph demonstrated that sometimes, by taking away the colour, we are forced to look beyond to shape, form, textures, tone and another layer of beauty is revealed. The same must be true of black and white landscape photographs.
I didn’t have the chance to get out with the film camera today and put this knowledge into practice so I’ve had a look in the archives and I’ve found a few pictures where I think that absence of colour, rather than taking something away from the photograph, brings something new to it.
Today I’m going to invite John Todaro to take up the 5 day black and white photography challenge. John’s photographs from Long Island, New York are incredibly beautiful and if you haven’t visited John’s blog, I heartily recommend it. There is of course no obligation to take up the challenge, it’s a bit of fun if time allows.
For my 2nd picture in the 5 day black and white challenge, I’m posting an image once more taken on Pan F Plus 50 film. This photograph, very different to yesterday’s, was taken with my Mamiya 645 Pro Medium Format film camera.
The picture sums up, for me, what is so special about film photography. It’s all about the grain in the image. Digital ‘noise’ is so very different. The grain is not so evident at this resolution but looking at the image full size, the grain gives a really lovely texture and a quality to the image that, although it can be mimicked in digital, it can’t be matched. As I’ve said before, I’m not about to sell my Nikon D800 and film is hard work by comparison to digital photography, but I’m finding working with film very satisfying.
I’ve used a very fine grain film, Pan F 50 Plus, for this image. Pan F however, is known for being quite contrasty, see yesterday’s image, with very rich blacks. To counteract the tendency for heavy contrast, with this photograph I set the ASA to 25 rather that 50 on my light meter (leading to slight over-exposure) and pulled the processing, that is, I stopped development before the standard time for the Ilford Ilfosol 3 developer that I was using..
Today I’m going to invite Tina of Travels and Trifles to take up the 5 day Black and White Challenge. Tina is of course known for her beautiful (colour) travel photography but there have been some gorgeous black and white images along the way. This is all a bit of fun and there is of course no pressure to take part but I’m seeing some beautiful black and white photography as a result of the challenge and that’s what it’s all about.
I’m grateful to Sue J of Words Visual who yesterday invited me to join in the 5 day black and white challenge. As I’m currently exploring black and white film photography using vintage cameras and developing my own black and white negatives, I was happy to take up the challenge and join in.
As some of you may remember, this little camera was a gift from a very good friend and fellow blogger Angi (Moments in Time). Angi came to Cornwall to take part in one of my workshops last year. The camera was a lovely gift and was the catalyst for my new-found interest in black and white film photography. We visited Roche Rock one afternoon as part of the workshop and I’ve been wanting to get back to take some pictures using the Agfa Billy ever since. The challenge was the perfect opportunity. This is a simple camera, the point and shoot of its day. It’s over 80 years old, produces a huge medium format negative and the quality from the little 3 element lens is amazing, I think you’ll agree..
F/11 1/125 sec. ASA/ISO 50
This negative was developed in Ilford ID11 stock 1+3 at 20°C for 15 minutes.
It is the nature of these challenges that we pass it on so today I’m going to invite Angi to take up the challenge but of course there is no pressure to take part, only if time allows..
As you may know from my last post, I’ve been exploring black and white film, learning to process the negatives and taking pictures with much older cameras than my usual Nikon D800e. In my last post I wrote about the Agfa Billy Record that I received as a gift. Bitten by the vintage camera bug and enjoying the unique qualities of these older cameras (and film in general) in this post I’m introducing my latest acquisition, a Rolleiflex 3.5f TLR. My Agfa Billy is as old as my Dad; this camera is just a few years older than me. Something rather nice about that. I’ll be on the hunt for a camera that perhaps my grandad may have used as a young man next. This camera was manufactured in 1961
Purchasing this particular model however came out of a challenge suggested at a meeting of the Royal Photographic Society South West Region. The idea was to take some photographs in the style of Vivian Maier and/or Lee Miller. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the meeting where the two photographers were discussed as I was in Iceland. However, I did do my homework and the Vivian Maier story particularly captured my imagination.
I watched a couple of documentaries and was fascinated by this photographer’s life and how her amazing life’s work didn’t come to light until her death. Vivian Maier took pictures with a Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) a camera I knew little about other than the name. I was really taken with the design and whilst not having too much success taking pictures in the style of Vivian Maier, I thought the least I could do was take some pictures with a similar camera to Vivian Maier. There is something particularly romantic to me about this classic design. The special feature of TLR cameras is that they have two lenses of the same focal length with their focal planes aligned. The lens at the bottom of the camera is the one that takes the picture (often called the ‘taking lens’), while the other is used in the viewfinder system.
I’ve taken just the one film so far with this camera, using Ilford Pan Plus 50, developed in Ilfosol 3. I didn’t realise when I chose Pan F Plus 50 that it’s considered a difficult film to use. It has a very fine grain and produces fine detail but does have a tendency to be a bit contrasty apparently. I have been advised to over-expose (set ASA rating to 25 rather than 50) and to shorten the developing time. As this was the first, however, I went with standard settings and the recommended developing times.
The garden pictures below came up a little under-exposed however, it was very bright yesterday afternoon, dark shadows were being cast by the sunshine and metering correctly would have been a challenge for even the latest DSLR. I think the camera has done a brilliant job. The tulip and teasel picture came up perfectly exposed. All negatives were scanned using an Epson V600 and then processed in Photoshop. I corrected the under-exposure as best I could, toned the ‘prints’ digitally with cyanotype toner which I think works rather well. I hope you enjoy the pictures. I often say this but I certainly enjoying taking them and processing them.. :-)
When fellow blogger and good friend Angi came to Cornwall to take part in one of my photo workshops, to my surprise, she had a gift for me. The gift was an Agfa Billy Record 7.7 camera. These cameras were produced between 1933 and 1942 so my new camera could be anything from 73 to 82 years old. Given the war, I guess it’s more likely to be pre 1939. It’s a real beauty. The proviso that went with the gift was that I take some pictures with it. I started by taking pictures of it with my point and shoot. See below.. :-)
The first film I put through the camera before Christmas gave me a few problems and I wasted the film but over the Christmas holidays, I got to thinking about film photography. The gift had reminded me of my early teenage interest in photography when everything was analougue. I can remember spending hours learning to wind a film onto a Paterson developing tank spool that my Dad had given me to practise with. I never got around to actually following through, winding on a real film and developing it, so I set about ordering all I would need to develop the first roll of film from the Billy Record myself.
In for a penny, in for a pound, whilst shopping on ebay for used darkroom equipment I came across a listing for a Mamiya 645 pro medium format camera. Having used the digital version last year (which costs around £30,000) the film version, for a few hundred pounds imported from Japan, seemed like a bargain not to be missed. A new skill for a new year!
Today, I got around to developing the first film taken with the camera. This was only the second time I’d developed a film (I’d already developed a test roll from the Mamiya) so I’ve been very pleased with the results on all counts.
The negatives are huge – 8.5 x 5.5 cm. If you can imagine film to be the analogue equivalent of a digital sensor, this would be a very large sensor indeed. The sensor in my Nikon D800 full frame digital camera is just 3.6 x 2.4 cm. There are 36.8 million pixels packed into that sensor yielding amazing quality. I’m sure the grains of silver halide on the film are larger than a pixel but the point I’m trying to get across is that this little camera has the potential for some fine quality prints. The Agfa Billy is basically a medium format point and shoot.
The camera has two distance settings, 2m to 5m and 5m to infinity, three shutter speeds and three aperture settings. The lens is simple, just three elements. One thing it doesn’t have is an auto film advance. So when a digital photographer like myself gets hold of a camera like this, the inevitable happens when said digital photographer forgets to wind on the film before taking the next shot, yielding a higher than acceptable number of double exposures. Still, these are the first pictures from this 80 year old camera, taken around my garden and I’m delighted with the results. Click on any of the images below to open a gallery.
By the way, just one more week to go in the DLR ‘Blowing in the Wind’ Photo competition! Submit a photo or three and you could win Topaz Labs’ Complete Collection. Must be worth a peek in the archives and an email with some attachments! We look forward to seeing your entries! Click Here for more details
I was very honoured to be invited, along with my camera, to the launch of a new book that has been created by David and Jan Penprase to raise money for the Mission to Seafarers in in Newlyn, Cornwall. The book contains photographs and biographies of the fishermen and people associated with the fishing industry in this tight-knit fishing community. All proceeds from the book will go to the Fishermen’s Mission which does invaluable work. No matter what problem a seafarer might be facing, be it injury, abandonment, non-payment of wages or personal difficulties, they know they can turn to the local Mission for help, advice and support.
David Penprase works exclusively in black and white film and the book is a superb collection of his work with the fishermen of Newlyn and their families, some of whom I had the pleasure of meeting last friday night. More information about the book can be found here
I have a copy of the book and I’m not at all surprised that within hours of the book’s launch, it had made over £7000. It’s a fascinating insight into the lives of the people of Newlyn and will be a resource for generations to come. I would recommend this book to anyone especially given the good work the proceeds of the book will do. The photographs are a lesson in how to take and print portraits from one of the best in the world. It can be purchased through eBay here
This gallery is a small collection of the photographs I took at the book launch. Click on any image to start the slide show.
I’m going to be away for the next couple of weeks, visiting a country I have always wanted to go to and which is, coincidentally enough, ;-), a bit of a landscape photographers dream location.. I’m very excited to be going and looking forward to immersing myself in the landscape and focusing 100% on photography and creativity for creativity’s sake, no agenda, just pictures. With my business, Royal Photographic Society distinctions and all sorts of other projects in the last year, it feels like it’s been a while – just me, my camera and the landscape I’m in. Can’t wait.. :-)
Talking of the Royal Photographic Society, I’m rather chuffed, tootling my own trumpet here, that my Licentiate Distinction Panel is featured in a new information pamphlet produced by the Royal Photographic Society about the distinctions process, distinctions that are recognised the world over as marks of excellence in photography. click on the link to download or view the leaflet to learn more about gaining an RPS Distinction. Marketing leaflet 2015
See you all when I’m back in a couple of weeks. I’ll still be dipping into your blogs when I can but WiFi will be limited.
Trebarwith Strand sits on the north coast of Cornwall not far from Tintagel. The rock structures are a superb subject for photographers. At high tide, the waves start washing up two channels created by the action of the waves while a seam of much harder rock forms a spine down the middle. The result makes for some interesting pictures and on more than one occasion, including this one, wet feet. Click on the image for a clearer sharper view.. ;-)
This picture was taken using the Lee Big Stopper filter.
I found myself at Wheal Coats again this week. A severe gale was blowing making it very difficult to stand. It was the tail end of a hurricane I believe. With my tripod blowing over before I’d had chance to attach my camera you should get some idea of just how windy it was.
However, I did manage to take a couple of pictures. I will now ask the question often asked in photography blogs, black and white or colour? I’ve taken this shot before at 24mm. The black and white version won first in a Nikon photography competition so I am drawn to the black and white image but I’m also very drawn to the greens and blues in the colour version. I do like the way the wider angle lens has given this version of the picture a greater sense of space.
I guess I don’t have to choose, you don’t have to choose either, I hope you can enjoy both pictures but I would be interested in your opinion just the same. Click on the images for a clearer sharper view.. :-)
I’ve been out a couple of times recently, just driving around the back lanes, seeing what I can find. I came across this cottage whilst driving across Tregoss Moor. A real fixer upper. I was attracted by juxtaposition of the old cottage, the sign directing animals and horse-drawn vehicles to use the gate to avoid the cattle grid and then that awful electricity pylon, a ubiquitous symbol of the modern world and our reliance on all things electric now…
The front door to the cottage was so tiny, only about 5ft in height if that. It must have been a very small person who lived here. Either that or someone who was permanently banging their head…
A very good blogging friend and excellent photographer, Noeline Smith, has been shortlisted in the same Nikon Pro Competition that I won this time last year. Take a moment to visit Noeline’s Website and you’ll see what I mean about her talent as a photographer. It’s a huge honour to be shortlisted but Noeline’s picture is a worthy winner in my opinion. The picture clearly shows what impact a very harsh and daring crop can have on a photograph. This is a tool I tend to overlook but have started to pay much closer attention to in very recent times, thanks to brilliant images posted by both Andy at Lenscaper and now Noeline’s competition entry, that clearly demonstrate the cropping tool is a tool that should not be overlooked.
This is the beauty of blogging, we learn from each other in such a creative and diverse community of like-minded individuals, what could be better?
But I digress, I’d be really grateful if you’d take a minute to click on the image below and visit the competition webpage. The other images are worthy of the shortlist that’s for sure but we’ve seen them before. Noeline’s image is creative and different and for that reason alone it gets my vote. But, it also goes on to tick all the other boxes that produce a winning photograph; it’s superbly composed, pin sharp and perfectly exposed. And if that weren’t enough to get your vote, sitting on your backside in the middle of a field and not jumping up to beat a hasty retreat as a herd of none too bright cows, each weighing over half a ton, gallops towards you as curious cows are wont to do, ‘cos you want that photograph, well, that takes a hell of a lot of courage too.
It’ll only take a minute to vote and you could win a superb Nikon Coolpix camera for your trouble.. :-)