the evenings out here - Thoughts, rants and musings about absolutely everything except photography. Or cats.

Infrared with the E-1 (again)

in Olympus E-System , Saturday, August 06, 2005

A few weeks back I was photographing the basalt cliffs at Arnastapi in Iceland. I wanted to try to get a long exposure, to get that silky, ethereal look to the sea, but at ISO 100, fully stopped down, with a ND 4 and polariser filter, I still was not getting long enough exposures.

It then occurred to me that there was another approach. Since the E-1 is very insensitive to infrared, it needs very long exposure times to record anything at all. So I put a blocking IR filter on, set the exposure to the maximum (1 minute), aperture at f8, and waited. The results were quite good.


basalt cliffs at Arnastapi, West Iceland

A longer exposure would have been possible, stopped down further, but this needs the BULB setting and didn't have a cable release (used to have one...broke it). With the noise reduction turned on (vital in such cases), each exposure in any case takes two minutes, and in strong winds this gets pretty tricky...and if somebody is waiting for you, well two minutes is quite enough!

Everybody’s going to Iceland

in General Rants , Tuesday, July 26, 2005

It seems like Iceland is the place to be right now. Although visitor numbers are down this year - quite substantially apparently - everybody seems to be going there. Colin Jago, who I have corresponded with, was apparently there at the same time as I was, and I live in fear of the wonderful photos that Alessandra will inevitably bring back. A quick search for somewhere I might be able to hire an Imacon scanner here in Zuerich led me to yet another Iceland link - this time this rather unique view from Klaus Hoffmann, which really captures something special (I had to copy the thumbnail because I can't link to it - it is in a frame here. It is NOT my photo!)


© Klaus Hoffmann

From my part I returned this time with about 1400 photos from the Olympus E-1, and 9 rolls of Velvia from the Xpan - these I'm quite pleased with. Many people have told me they like my panoramic work, so I tried to concentrate a bit more on it. Luchiana came back with over 1500 photos from her Panasonic Lumix LMC-5, which worked pretty well.

I've spent the last days tracing the reason why I couldn't connect to my database server anymore, which stopped me actually publishing any of this yet. I discovered finally a new "feature" kindly provided by my ISP was the reason... So, soon.

Helmut Hirler - Iceland

in Book Reviews , Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I discovered this book by the German landscape photographer Helmut Hirler in Zürich. It is one of a small series of very nicely produced panoramic photography books, but this one is really quite different: black & white, mainly infrared (possibly all) panoramas of Icelandic landscapes. With a terrain as colourful as Iceland, black & white is not immediately obvious, but these really work.


The book itself is beautifully presented, a cloth bound volume held in a slipcase. Printing quality is excellent. Hirler, who seems to have quite a strong reputation in Europe, appears to have used a Linhof 617 camera, although technical details are non-existent (not that this matters). He has a feature page at Linhof, which would tend to confirm this assumption.

There are some gorgeous images in this book, especially of the many impressive Icelandic waterfalls. A particularly striking image is an ethereal, other worldly shot of the settlement at Glaumbær, and another favourite is the rivulets and falls at Hraunfossar. Everywhere his treatment is delicate, with a strong eye for composition, and without any sign of the tendency towards gloom and despondency all too often apparently beloved by germanic artists.

The only criticism I do have is that the sequence of images at Dyrhólaey is a bit dull at times, and overlong, although one photo of the sea swirling around a basalt stack is quite magical.

All in all this is a very unusual treatment of a subject that is becoming more and more popular, and it deserves a wider audience.

It doesn't seem so easy to find in the anglophile part of the Internet, but it can be found on the German Amazon site.

"Iceland" is published by Edition Panorama, ISBN 3-89823-189-5

E-1 in Iceland

in Olympus E-System , Friday, July 23, 2004

For most of the past four weeks I have been travelling around Iceland with my Olympus E-1 (and Hasselblad Xpan). I shot 2700 frames, about 26Gb of Raw files, and used all 3 E-System zoom lenses. The camera behaved perfectly all the time, and stood up to rough handling and repeated soaking without a whimper. Using the battery grip, I found that one charge was good for up to 700 frames, which is quite exceptional. One peculiarity I found was that when the low battery warning appeared, turning the camera off, leaving it a few minutes, and turning it on again appeared to give the battery a very significant new lease of life. I changed lenses often, in a sometimes very dusty environment, and the sensor cleaner worked perfectly. I have not found any evidence of dust on any of those 2700 frames, which I think is more than can be said for the people I spent some time with, who were all using Canon or Nikon systems. The E-1 looks a bit lonely amongst all these big D1s etc. But when you point out that the 50-200, coupled to the 1.4 converter, gives a 35mm equivalent 560mm lens, they look very thoughtfully at their huge 70-200 IS lenses!

Early morning light over Kjalfell, Iceland, July 2004.

Whilst I got some good photographs, on the whole I was a bit disappointed with the results. Partly due to technique, partly due to tripod problems I suspect, I ended up with an embarassing number of out of focus shots. I also had problems with the eyecup falling off, and the diopter moving. But in general the camera behaved very well - it was just the photographer at fault. What is interesting is that I have just had a first look at the 12 rolls of slide film I shot with the Xpan. It is indisputable that my success rate here is much higher. This may be because I'm much more familiar with the Xpan. It may also be because I'm a more naturally "panoramic" photographer (I suspect this may have something to do with it). But I won't give up with the E-1. It is a wonderful camera to use, and when I get things right, it delivers. I suspect a little more practice on auto focus, and learning to use AF lock might help a bit. We shall see...

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