Iceland is a photographer’s fairy tale island. It’s almost impossible to take a bad picture in the land of ice and fire. Pick a spot, hold your camera in a random direction, press the shutter. Receive congratulations on a magnificent photo. At least, it used to be that simple when I was still using digital point-and-shoot cameras on auto-magic settings.
Now that I have been bitten by the film photography bug for some time, my approach to photography has changed. Aperture, ISO and shutter speed are things now because my cameras won’t select them for me. Composition is a thing too because every frame costs me money (#shootfilmstaybroke).
Even before boarding the plane for my third trip to Iceland, I was facing some decisions:
- What do I want to take pictures of? How will the weather be?
- Which cameras should I pack? How many rolls of film?
- Colour or black and white?
October is a magical time in Iceland. Winter is coming, but there is still plenty of daytime. Since the sun never goes up high, you get this constant feeling of sunrise and sundown. The resulting light is surreal. And at night there are northern lights! So it was obvious to bring colour film. I picked my newly acquired Spotmatic SP II plus my Rolleicord IV and packed lots of Kodak Portra and Kodak Ektar in both 35mm and 120 formats.
Fair weather setup: Check!
But I knew that I should expect cloudy, gloomy, rainy days as well. So I also brought a second 35mm camera, my trusty old first-gen Spotmatic SP with a Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f/1.4, loaded with ILFORD HP5 PLUS, intended to be pushed for EI 1600. It was a bit of an experiment for me, since I rarely pushed film before. I still consider myself a beginner in film photography so I always tried to shoot my rolls “as intended”, just to reduce variables.
Fast forward to after my trip. The colour pics turned out great, but I was surprised how much I liked the results from my black and white “backup” setup.
Those I have shared with you are grainy, yes, but I guess that is to be expected from pushing two stops. I especially love the first frame and the way the mountains are rendered, almost as if drawn with a pencil. I definitely a look I want to add to my film photography arsenal.
PS: I developed them at home in Kodak HC 110, dilution B for 11 minutes and scanned them with a Plustek OpticFilm 8200i.
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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