photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Iceland Landscapes by Daníel Bergmann

Book Review

in Book Reviews , Wednesday, July 27, 2011

“The North begins and ends with Iceland” - Marco Paoluzzo

There are a lot of photography books on Iceland and Icelandic landscapes in particular. They’re split, pretty much, into several categories: books by Icelandic photographers that are never seen outside of Iceland, but are ubiquitous in their homeland. “Lost in Iceland” by Sigurgeir Sigurjonsson is a good example. Then we have books by foreign photographers, which are never seen in Iceland, but in some cases are quite ubiquitous outside of the country. Interestingly black & white Icelandic landscape photography books, are, as far as I know, a uniquely foreign category.

And then we have Iceland Landscapes by Daníel Bergmann.

Db IL cover

Daníel is without a shadow of a doubt Icelandic, but thanks to time he spent outside of the country, he’s had something of the experience of discovering Iceland as a foreigner, and this gives him something of a mixed perspective. He is able to see the country at a remove, while at the same time knowing it extremely well, with the result that he’s able to bring something new to a rather over-crowded field.

Iceland Landscapes is, I think, his 5th published book, but it is the first that really focuses on the landscape. It’s beautifully printed and presented, and includes a foreword by British photographer David Ward. This is very appropriate, because Daníel’s approach is well in tune with Ward’s “Landscape Within” ethos, as well as his discrete but strong spiritual undertone.

One thing that stands out for me is his response to and treatment of light. He prefers the subtle approach, and often goes for quite muted light, and avoids the sometimes ghastly “Velvia tones” so characteristic of a sector of the landscape community, as well as the heavy-handed contrast treatments so beloved by the Flickr crowd.

In general he tends to avoid the more over-photographed locations in Iceland. In particular I’m think of the coastal area to the west of Vik, which has really been done to death - although he has included a couple of beautiful scenes from there. But the most successful shots tend to be from well off the beaten track, perhaps not so much because they’re unknown, but perhaps more because they communicate a stronger connection to the land.

There are many outstanding photos, but here’s a small selection of my current favourites (which I hope doesn’t break “Fair Use” copyright rules!).

Db skaftafell

Skaftafell © Daníel Bergmann

Db leirur 400

Leirur © Daníel Bergmann


Eyjafjallajökull © Daníel Bergmann

“Iceland Landscapes” is at completely the other end the spectrum to “Terra Borealis” by Marco Paoluzzo, which I reviewed last week. But they’ve one special thing in common: they avoid the hard sell, the dramatic-but-cheap shot, but instead slowly draw you in to the worlds they create.

I think it’s obvious that I highly recommend “Iceland Landscapes”. You can get your own copy directly from Daníel Bergmann, or apparently it’s available in Icelandic bookstores and tourist shops.

The North, as well as a lot of other things, does indeed begin and end in Iceland. For me it’s been too long…

Disclaimer: In fairness I should mention that I’m happy to count Daníel Bergmann as a good friend who I’ve spent too little time with. But I’d be as positive about this collection of photographs even if my worst enemy had published it.


Dimage Scan MultiPro Micro-banding

The “thin red line” problem, and a solution

in Scanning , Saturday, July 23, 2011

After 10 years or so of pretty constant use, I’m beginning to get the hang of my Minolta MultiPro film scanner. Having very belatedly discovered Scanhancer inventor Erik de Goederen’s tip for making a single-sided glass film holder, I’m also getting something close to dust-free scans. So naturally, now was the time for the Minolta to blow a gasket.

Well, fortunately it seems to be a fairly minor gasket, and in fact I may be lucky to have only been hit by it now, because it has a name in the MultiPro community: micro-banding. Somebody even built a Photoshop plug-in (Windows only) to fix it, way back. Actually I think it is more of a stuck pixel, or whatever passes for that, as the effect is of a single-pixel wide red line right across the scan. It is strange that it’s always red though.

Multipro red line red channel

the red line, aka “micro banding”

The fix is actually pretty simple, so you don’t need a plug-in. Before you do any other editing - and especially rotating - simply zoom in at 100% and select a thin rectangle, say 5 pixels high, all the way across the image, with the red line centered. Then select the red channel only. Then apply the Dust & Scratch filter with settings Radius 2, Threshold 2 or thereabouts.

Multipro red line red channel

red channel only

Multipro red line red channel

Dust & Scratch filter settings

It doesn’t completely go away, but you’re never going to see it at anything less than serious pixel-peeping level, and certainly not on a print.

I don’t know why it hit my scanner now. Could be old age. Could be dust, although I’ve opened it up for the first time ever, and it is remarkably clean inside. Could be because I’ve been fiddling around with fluid mounts. I don’t know, I just hope it doesn’t spread, because there’s essentially nothing available to replace it.



Admin Notes

A couple of updates

in General Rants , Friday, July 22, 2011

Just a quick note about some changes and fixes I’ve recently made here.  First of all, I finally noticed that the links in my RSS feeds were broken. That means that my faithful subscribers (yes, all 4 of you) couldn’t click through to the articles on the site. Brilliant, no ? Anyway, it’s fixed now. Sorry.

Second, you’ll probably notice I’ve added little bubbles showing how many comments there are on the articles listed on the home page. I haven’t bothered with handling the case that there are more than 99 comments. That will be a nice problem to have.

Finally, I am going to try to get around to making commenting easier, especially for frequent visitors (that’s, er, Tim. And maybe RB, sometimes).

Have a wonderful weekend


Terra Borealis, by Marco Paoluzzo

a book review

in Book Reviews , Thursday, July 21, 2011

A couple of years back, I reviewed Marco Paoluzzo’s book about the Faroe Islands, Føroyar. This followed on from his other “Arctic series” books, Iceland and North/Nord. Finally, he has put together his magnum opus, Terra Borealis, with photography from Iceland, Greenland, the Faroes, Svalbard and Norway.


Hvitserkur, Iceland: the cover photo of Terra Borealis. Photo © Marco Paoluzzo.

Terra Borealis has been out for about 6 months (and Marco was kind enough to send me a PDF proof over a year ago), so I’ve been a bit slow to write about it. Meanwhile it has been getting good reviews in various publications, and is currently being promoted on the site of the well recommended photo book retailer, Beyond Words. So this is old news.

Marco Paoluzzo is far from the typical landscape photographer - in fact I doubt he’d describe himself as that at all - even if landscapes figure large in his work. He has much more of a reportage view of the world, and is equally fascinated by the human presence in the landscape, or indeed shaping the landscape, as the place itself. He doesn’t photograph people very much, at least not in the Arctic, but he doesn’t shy away from the worst excesses of environmental damage, for example at Barentsburg, Svalbard. In this he reminds me a little of Edward Burtynsky, but less formal. He also shows a fascination with how man has managed to survive and prosper even in these harsh climates, not only in the more obvious Inuit communities, but also severe concrete constructions like those found in Kirkenes.

However, landscape, or perhaps better, “place”, figures very strongly. Since he uses only black and white, and generally avoids the heavy contrast, long exposure style of others such as Josef Hoflehner, this is almost a “decisive moment” approach. It’s certainly very individual, and may not appeal to the general landscape audience. It’s also in stark contrast (ha!) to the highly colorful Iceland “standard” style piled high in Keflavik airport - or indeed found all over Flickr. And it’s all the more refreshing for that.  Terra Borealis is a book that requires, and rewards, a certain degree of engagement and time.

Personally it has a style which resonates with me, even if I’m no black & white photographer. There are strong undercurrents of wonder mixed with ironic humour, and more than a degree of quiet romanticism. Paoluzzo’s photography doesn’t grab you by the throat, it just invites you to contemplate for a while.

My personal favourite is from the back of the dustjacket. It’s a shot taken from a ship cruising up the west coast of Svalbard, and typically, Marco has framed the wild, empty landscape using the ship’s structure, and as you look, you become aware of the coffee cup tucked away in a corner, and just become part of the scene.


Svalbard, observed. Photo © Marco Paoluzzo.

I don’t know where he can go from here with his Arctic series. Russia maybe ? But as you can see from his web site, he has plenty more tales to tell.

If you’ve got a bit of the Arctic in your soul, you need this book.



Silverfast announces version ... 8!

Silverfast 7 reported missing

in Silverfast , Wednesday, July 20, 2011

With Mac OS X Lion and new MacBook Airs released today after weeks of speculation, today was a good day to bury bad news in the tech world.  So Lasersoft, God bless ‘em, chose today to announce, at long, long last Silverfast 8, the next major iteration of the venerable Silverfast: 

SilverFast, the most popular scanner software in the world, is released as brand-new version SilverFast 8. After many successful years, SilverFast will be available completely renewed towards the end of August for the most important scanners of all major manufacturers.

I guess Silverfast 7 was dropped in the Baltic Sea or something, since we’re jumping straight from 6.x to 8, or maybe it’s just in recognition that nobody could possibly make us wait this long for a new version.

So, we’re promised such joys as a new user interface (let’s hope they didn’t hire PhaseOne’s designer), multitasking (gasp) and much goodness. The bit that leaves me a bit worried is “for the most important scanners of all major manufacturers”.  The place of the Minolta Dimage MultiScan Pro in that august assembly must be less than guaranteed.

Well, I for one am looking forward to this more than OS X Lion.

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