Just some stuff about photography


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
Posted in category "Book Reviews" on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 at 10:26 AM

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...
Posted in category "Olympus E-System" on Friday, July 23, 2004 at 08:50 PM

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