Iceland with Fuji X-T2

Time to wrap up this eventfull year with a couple of blogs on last summer's travels. I was lucky to visit both Iceland and Greenland again, this time with a pair of wonderful Fujifilm X-T2 cameras. Both parts of my trip were organised by  Iceland Photo Tours. The Icelandic part of the trip was overwelming by its combination of magnificent landscapes, waterfalls, ever changing light and weather, textures and colours. Iceland Photo Tours named it an Extreme Iceland Highlands Workshop - I think it is safe to call it an Epic Iceland Workshop. Thank you very much Iurie Belegurschi and Örvar Atli Þorgeirsson it was epic! :) There is so much natural beauty on this island that once you have visited it - it will always stay in your heart and you will want to come back, and so I did. Finally at the end of my trip I was lucky to see Iceland from the air thanks to the best flying ace of them all #volcanopilot - thank you once again Haraldur - it was awesome!! Thor was not in a good mood though, so I will have to come back to fly again soon.

Throughout the few weeks I kept one X-T2 with the 50-140 f2.8 lens (my main landscape lens) and a vertical grip. The second X-T2 body had an L-plate and either the superb 16-55 f2.8 or on occasion the 10-24 f4 when the landscape was so epic that it would not fit into my idea of a wide view. To complement the kit I had 35 f2 and 14 f2.8 primes and a set of Lee filters for all those long and long-ish exposures of waterfalls, geothermals and waves. Of those I used mostly the little stopper (6 stops) and 3 stop hard and soft grad filters alone or combined and the CPL. The kit (including all extras batteries and cards, plenty of microfibre wipes and chargers) was all packed into the LowePro Wistler 350, which proved to be an exellent companion on this frequently dusty, cold and wet trip. My tripod was Gitzo GT2543L with superbly engineered RRS BH-30LR II Ball Head and L-plate for X-T2. The combination was perfect for the smaller and lighter than standard DSLR XT2 mirrorless system.

I took too many shots to place them all into this blog, so I hope you will enjoy the selection of my favourite shots from Iceland and hope they prove once again how capable Fujifilm X-T2 camera and lenses are - location, lens, aperture and focal distance are indicated where I think it could be usefull for those planning trips to Iceland. You would also probably notice that one area was by far my favourite on this trip and almost quarter of all selected shots come from Kerlingarfjöll.. Post-editing was done in Iridient Developer and Lightroom with Nik's collection plugins. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

Welcome to Iceland. Almost like on a stage two hikers meet on a backdrop of the morning light and steam from geothermal vents at Kerlingarfjöll. I took many shots at this location over two days and this was the one I took when all the tripod/filters shots were done. So I took my long lens and waited. And the theatre of nature and life did not let me down. (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 50mm 1/320 f7.1 ISO200)

Through the clouds. The shot was taken angled slightly upwards with a long lens thus the impression of standing and looking through the clouds opening. Was not a planned shot - just a quick click from a gas station, but thats how Iceland is - wherever you go there is always a moment of beauty waiting for you. (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 140mm 1/250 f8 ISO200)

Harpa, Reykjavik (XF 10-24mm f4 at 10mm 1/50 f5.6 ISO200)

sunrise at Jökulsárlón (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 120mm 13s f8 ISO2500)

A small hut next to Reykjafoss is dwarfed by the scale of this beautiful waterfall where Huseyjarkvisl river cascades down over 20 meters and two steps down. (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 17mm 15s f8 ISO100)

photographing sunrise at Jökulsárlón (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 140mm 1/1000 f11 ISO200)

through the clouds (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 140mm 1/250 f8 ISO200)

West Iceland coast line from above, shot taken from a small airplane (Cessna). A few flying birds on a left side for scale. (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 22mm 1/1000 f4.5 ISO800)

"close up" of Ófærufoss (The Impassable), Eldgjá Fissure. (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 50mm 1/320 f6.4 ISO200)

Photographing on Mars, :D Hverir (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 98mm 1/320 f2.8 ISO60)

Highlands, Fjallabak, Hnausapollur area (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 58mm 1/60 f11 ISO200)

water and moss (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 44mm 1s f8 ISO200)

Highlands, Fjallabak, Hnausapollur area (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 115mm 1/125 f11 ISO200)

Ófærufoss (The Impassable), Eldgjá Fissure (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 50mm 1/100 f11 ISO200)

West Iceland coastal marsh from above, shot taken from a small airplane (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 34mm 1/1000 f5.6 ISO800)

At the end of the world. Hikers on the trail at the geothermal area at Hveradalir, Kerlingarfjöll (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 140mm 1/200 f10 ISO200)

Journey to the centre of the Earth. Two hikers descent at Hveradalir (the valley of hot springs), making it look like they are following Jules Verne steps... Kerlingarfjöll (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 50mm 1/80 f10 ISO200)

A photographer takes a shot from behind the main waterfall at Kvernufoss Falls, South Iceland (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 24mm 1/2s f10 ISO200)

photographer in paradise... Kerlingarfjöll (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 50mm 1/320 f8 ISO200)

West Iceland coast area from above, shot taken from a small airplane  (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 55mm 1/60 f4.5 ISO1000)

Paganel... something makes me think about the Jules Verne's character from the In Search of the Castaways novel when looking at this frame. Kerlingarfjöll  (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 50mm 1/320 f6.4 ISO200)

Reykjavik, Harpa (XF 10-24mm f4 at 10mm 1/100 f11 ISO500)

Icelandic layers. West Iceland coast line from above, shot taken from a small airplane (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 23mm 1/1000 f7.1 ISO800)

This spirit of exploration. This gentleman was standing in such a classic Brunel-like, Victorian era pose that I thought about all those who boldly went to discover those new and amazing places we now visit as tourists... Hveradalir, Kerlingarfjöll (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 134mm 1/200 f8 ISO200)

Nature's synapse or a giant cobra's head? things can get pretty interesting from above. image taken from a small airplane (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 35mm 1/1000 f5.6 ISO800)

West Iceland coast line from above, shot taken from a small airplane (Cessna). Birds on a right side for scale. (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 44mm 1/1000 f7.1 ISO800)

Blue hour at the Jökulsárlón diamond beach. Probably the trickiest shot  I took ... camera was low on tripod, too close to waves for comfort, so every now and then I had to grab tripod and lift it up or run away from waves. Strong winds and low light, moving ice, moving sand, moving waves... and cold water in my boots, overall a full Icelandic experience :) but it was absolutely worth it! (XF 10-24mm f4 at 14mm 13/10s f10 ISO200)

Landmannalaugar, tiny hikers (bottom left) for scale.

blue strokes on green, shot taken from a small airplane (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 35mm 1/1000 f5.6 ISO800)

three sleeping swans, shot taken from a small airplane (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 35mm 1/1000 f5.6 ISO800)

on the top of the rock... Landmannalaugar (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 188mm 1/500 f6.4 ISO200) with x1.4 teleconverter.

flying above the birds, shot taken from a small airplane

ice and water, at the Jökulsárlón diamond beach (XF 10-24mm f4 at 16mm 1s f16 ISO200)

Dead volcanic craters, West Iceland. Aerial shot from small airplane. (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 24mm 1/1000 f6.4 ISO640)

Water forms beautiful pattern (very nordic) on the surface of the basalt column framed basin bellow the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall. Couple of hikers for scale. The waterfall, about 20m tall, is one of the most beautiful in Iceland (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 18mm 15/10s f11 ISO200)

Under the cloud, shot taken from a small airplane (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 32mm 1/640 f3.6 ISO800)

little house in Iceland (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 34mm 2s f11 ISO200)

Into the void. Lone hiker/photographer at the hills of Kerlingarfjöll during the blue hour. Longer exposure gave an extra mood and feeling to this beautiful place of geothermal activity with steam streaks and barren landscape making it look like a different planet. Kerlingarfjöll (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 38mm 6.5s f8 ISO200)

the hills are alive... Highlands (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 98mm 1/125 f8 ISO200)

birds, ice, sunset... Jökulsárlón (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 52mm 1/250 f8 ISO200)

Sunset alpenglow at Kerlingarfjöll (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 28mm 1/13 f13 ISO200)

 Late summer (20th august) northern lights, geothermal Kerlingarfjöll. (XF 14mm f2.8 5s f2.8 ISO2000)

Ófærufoss waterfall at Eldgjá Fissure. Fast changing weather with showers and sun spells makes this place a brilliant scenery (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 16mm 2.5s f11 ISO200)

two hikers meet on a backdrop of the morning light and steam from geothermal vents at Kerlingarfjöll (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 16mm 13s f11 ISO100)

A photographer takes a shot from behind the main waterfall at Kvernufoss Falls, South Iceland (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 24mm 1/2s f10 ISO200)

long exposure of a photographer taking long exposure of Kerlingarfjöll geothermals, Kerlingarfjöll (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 31mm 15s f13 ISO100)

Sunrise colours and wave motion at the Jökulsárlón diamond beach (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 30mm 1s f3.6 ISO200)

the engineer... the lone hiker standing next to the most powerful waterfall in Europe reminded me of the openning scene from the Prometheus movie. The Dettifoss fall is about 45m in height and about 100m wide. (XF 10-24mm f4 at 10mm 6.5s f11 ISO200)

Light and steam show -Kerlingarfjöll. (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 33mm 13s f11 ISO100)

Sunset reflection... Jökulsárlón (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 16mm 1/60s f16 ISO200)

morning at the diamond beach, Jökulsárlón (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 20mm 6.5s f16 ISO200)

Sunset at the Tall (High) Falls - Haifoss (left, second highest waterfall in Iceland) and Granni (Neighbour, on the right). The river Fossá, a tributary of Þjórsá, drops here from a height of 122 m (Haifoss). The view here is so huge and epic that it is very difficult to get it all in one shot, so I had to use ultra wide lens. (XF 10-24mm f4 at 10mm 6.5s f11 ISO200)

Light and steam and tiny hikers - Kerlingarfjöll. (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 33mm 13s f11 ISO100)

Sunset at Haifoss, the river Fossá, a tributary of Þjórsá, drops here from a height of 122 m. This is the second highest waterfall of the island. (XF 10-24mm f4 at 10mm 1/3s f11 ISO200)

Þjófafoss shot in InfraRed using 720nm Hoya IR filter. Þjófafoss (Thjofafoss) waterfall is located on the river Þjórsá on the east side of the Merkurhraun lava fields in the south of Iceland (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 16mm 30s f5.6 ISO200)

sunrise... in the land of elves and trolls, Sigöldugljufursunrise... in the land of elves and trolls, Sigöldugljufur (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 20mm 1/2s f11 ISO200)

Beautiful highlands of Iceland. This is Bláhylur (Blue Pool) Hnausapollur Crater Lake, formed by eruption over thousand years ago it is located in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve area northeast of Landmannalaugar. The other lake on background is Ljótipollur. (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 16mm 1/40s f11 ISO200)

Sunset at Þjófafoss. Þjófafoss (Thjofafoss) is located on the river Þjórsá on the east side of the Merkurhraun lava fields in the south of Iceland (XF 10-24mm f4 at 10mm 6.5s f11 ISO200)

Basalt columns frame the Skjálfandafljót river just downstream of the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall, which is most commonly the subject of photographs. The columns however are beautiful on their own. The river is fed by the Vatnajökull glacier. (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 16mm 25s f11 ISO200)

One to one with planet Earth. There are some places on our planet where you can be very close face to face to its soul, beauty and power. This is one of them - the geothermal area in Icelandic highlands. Absolutely amazing place. Sadly, like the rest of Iceland it is under severe pressure from ever growing tourism business. Hopefully its relative remoteness will allow some time to adjust and stay safe, and give visitors that unique feeling of being one to one with our planet. Hveradalir, Kerlingarfjöll (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 64mm 1/200s f10 ISO200)

Dettifoss - the most powerful waterfall in Europe. The Dettifoss fall is about 45m in height and about 100m wide (XF 10-24mm f4 at 33mm 6.5s f11 ISO200)

Water streams form beautiful patina on the basalt column framed basin bellow the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall on a rainy and windy day. Long(ish) exposure and filters made the colours pop though. The waterfall, about 20m tall, is one of the most beautiful in Iceland (XF 16-55mm f2.8 at 16mm 15s f8 ISO100)

Highlander... "In the endthere can be only one."  a lone hiker on the top of the hill in the midst of the beautiful geothermal Kerlingarfjöll (XF 50-140mm f2.8 at 50mm 1/60s f11 ISO200)

Milano's reflections

This is retrospective post for my visit to Milano in May. As it was a short visit, I decided to travel light and take X-Pro2 (my favourite) with three compact "Fujicron" lenses - 23, 35 and 50mm - all f2, and XT-2 with 10-24mm f4 zoom and 8mm f2 Samyang fisheye for architectural shots. All nicely packed into the new 20l Peak-Design backpack. The latter was improved by taking out couple of lower intersections and putting in a Billingham Hadley Small insert, facing the side of the backpack, instead. The abundancy of photo opportunities in Milano is overwhelming (street, architecture, reflections) therefore shooting something that has not been photographed before is almost impossible. But then a rain fall comes and it changes everything... as the saying goes: "bad weather makes good pictures" - or least provides for some great photo opportunites. So here is my small selection of shots, indoors and outdoors, street and reflections of Milano as I saw it.
As for lens usage - 35mm f2 was my clear favourite, 8mm lens was used most for indoors as 10-24 is often not wide and not bright enough. I used it more often on a tripod (Gitzo 1542T) with RRS BH-30LR II ball head outdoors. My biggest surprise was to find out how good the 23mm f2 lens is. It is a gem and although it is not my favourite focal length I will use it more often from now.

Post-editing was done in Lightroom 6 using Fujifilm Classic Chrome profile with some further adjustments. BW conversion - with Nik's SilverEfex. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

CitizenM hotel staircase with X-T1

A stonesthrow away from the Tate Modern there is a small hidden gem of London's spiral staircases. CitizenM hotel has a modern wooden staircase, which will blow your mind. Fortunately the helpful staff have placed a couple of swivel chairs at its foot so you can either zen meditate or comfortably take a few shots of this masterpiece. As usual for architectural shots I used three lenses - Fujinon 14mm f2.8, Samyang 8mm f2.8 and Fujinon 10-24mm f4, all with the Fujifilm X-T1. The latter has a tilting LCD screen which is perfect for shooting this kind of photography. The space of the staircase is rather tight so the best shots to my liking were made with 8mm and 14mm f2.8 lenses. The 10-24mm f4 zoom was used close to its its widest ~12mm but this lens does not impress me in a low light conditions. The X-T1 combo with 8mm or 14mm lens is light, even with the vertical grip attached, which I have most of the time, and great to shoot handheld. Post-editing was done with Iridient Developer, Photomatix and Lightroom 6. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

 

Wellcome Collection staircase with X-T1

The Wellcome Collection is full of wonders, but the new spiral staircase by Stirling Prize winning architects Wilkinson Eyre completed in spring 2015 is a masterpiece. The steel staircase spans three floors and is a visual feast. Unlike other stairs it feels like a living form with its irregular shapes and changes in width and direction. I used three lenses - Fujinon 14mm f2.8, Samyang 8mm f2.8 and Fujinon 10-24mm f4, all with the Fujifilm X-T1. The latter has a tilting LCD screen which is perfect for shooting this kind of photography. The best shots to my liking were made with 8mm f2.8 and 14mm f2.8 lenses. The 10-24mm f4 zoom was used pretty much at its widest - 10mm. This is an emerging pattern after a few months of shooting with all three and I feel that 10-24 zoom will get swapped for a 10mm or 12mm prime in the nearest future. The X-T1 combo with 8mm or 14mm lens is small and light, and great to shoot handheld, try to hold DSLR with similar focal length lens in outstreched hand and shoot 1/30. Post-editing was done with Iridient Developer, Photomatix and Lightroom 6. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

 

The Brewer staircase with X-T1

The Brewer staircase is the beautiful spiral staircase at Heals department store, Tottenham Court Road, London (map attached). Designed by Ambrose Heal’s cousin Cecil Brewer, the stairs were completed in 1916. Despite a large amount of people passing through the store not many are aware of its existence. All you need to do is to enter the store, walk about 20 steps and turn left, walk straight for another 30-40 steps and the entry to the staircase is in front of you. The store staff are very friendly and as long as you are not obstructing other people's activities you are welcome to take pictures. Some images were taken during the Christmas holidays, thus extra decorations along the stairs. Shooting this beauty is challenging and gives anyone a good run for their wide-angle glass collection. Getting the right exposure is tricky and sometimes shooting upwards into the light I used an ND4 filter. I used three lenses- Fujinon 14mm f2.8, Samyang 8mm f2.8 and Fujinon 10-24mm f4, all with the Fujifilm X-T1. The latter has a tilting LCD screen which is perfect for shooting this kind of photography. Post-editing in Iridient Developer, Photomatix and Lightroom. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

10mm f5 1/60 ISO 1600

10mm f7.1 1/15 ISO 1600

10mm f5 1/60 ISO 1600

8mm f5.6 1/125 ISO 1600

11.5mm f4.5 1/30 ISO 1250

10mm f7.1 1/15 ISO 1600

8mm f8 1/3 ISO 200

10mm f7.1 1/15 ISO 1600

8mm f8 1/60 ISO 800

10mm f5 1/30 ISO 640

8mm f5.6 1/30 ISO 3200

8mm f5.6 1/125 ISO 1600

8mm f5.6 1/60 ISO 1600

8mm f8 1/60 ISO 1600

8mm f5.6 1/60 ISO 1600

8mm f8 1/60 ISO 2500

8mm f5.6 1/125 ISO 3200

8mm f5.6 1/10 ISO 3200

14mm f5.6 1/25 ISO 1600

8mm f11 1/9 ISO 3200

8mm f8 1/60 ISO 1600

 

London's City Hall with Fuji X-T1

London City Hall is a wonderful place, it is easy to get lost there just wondering around and admiring its unique skewed bulb shape with helical 500-metre (1,640 ft) walkway that goes the full height of the 10 storey building. It was designed by Sir Norman Foster and opened in July 2002. Its space is filled with light, glass and refections - a paradise for photography. It is open to the public on Open House Day (typically one of the weekends in September). All shots were made with X-T1 Fujifilm cameras paired with either Fujinon 14mm f2.8 or Samyang 8mm f2.8 lenses. Post-editing in Iridient Developer, Photomatix and Lightroom. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.