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)

Iceland with Fuji X-T1

This is the second part of my retrospective blog about a trip that took place in Greenland and Iceland two years ago. Equipped with X-T1 and X-E1 with 55-200, 14, 18-55 and 35mm lenses and little prior experience of landscape shooting I trekked some of the most beautiful landscapes on this planet. The trip was organised by Icelandic Mountain Guides. The Icelandic part of the trip was overwelming by its combination of increadible landscapes, light, weather, textures and colours. There is so much beauty packed on this island that once you have visited it - it will always stay in your heart. I was surprised to find out that X-T1 with vertical grip and 55-200 lens attached to it was used most of the time to reach as far and high/low as I could when in the mountains. 14 and 18-55mm lenses were used on a few ocassions when a grand view presenteditself. I guess it also reflects my personal vision of landscapes too. Also my apologies for those who expect large waterfalls - I have not selected any for this blog. The idea was to show Iceland the way it looks from a trek, on the go without a tripod, away from the main tourist path. Post-editing was done in Iridient Developer and Lightroom 6. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

Þórsmörk

Our first camp was at Þórsmörk, south of Iceland between the glaciers Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull, the latter home for the famost trouble maker Eyjafjallajökull vulcano. Þórsmörk is a beautiful mountain ridge that was named after the Norse god Thor with breathtaking views.

Þórsmörk

Eyjafjallajökull area

Eyjafjallajökull area

Þórsmörk

Þórsmörk troll

Eyjafjallajökull

Þórsmörk

Eyjafjallajökull area

Þórsmörk

One of the Þórsmörk glaciers under the clouds, the glacier ice folded and scrambled like a frozen image of crashing waves.

Layers of ice and rock….  Þórsmörk

Glacial ice contrasting with the rock of the mountains and the green moss and grass, Þórsmörk

Þórsmörk

Our second camp was at Skaftafell, south east of the Vatnajökull national park. The only heavy rain we had during the trip gave way to a beautiful sunset. The following days we trekked along some spectacular routes.

Sunset in Skaftafell

Skaftafell

Wall of tears, Skaftafell

Wall of tears, Skaftafell

 Ice and fire - sunset at Öræfajökull and Hvannadalshnjúkur as seen from Skaftafell.

Jökulsárlón area

Ice creature, Jökulsárlón

Ice creature, Jökulsárlón

The great skua is a pirate of the seas, deliberately harrassing birds as large as gannets to steal a free meal. Jökulsárlón area.

On the way to the third camp and Landmannalaugar.

Landmannalaugar highlands was our final destination and a base for the third camp.

Two hikers "lost" in the vastness of the Landmannalaugar Highlands.

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Trek with a view... Landmannalaugar Highlands

The colourful mountains of Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Nature's palette, amazing colours of Brennisteinsalda Mountain, Landmannalaugar Highlands. For scale reference - there is a tiny speck of a hiker on a trail just left of the hill's top.

Beautiful colours and patterns of Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Layers of colour and light, Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

Landmannalaugar Highlands

A fellow hiker walks on the backdrop of Landmannalaugar Highlands, Iceland - one of the most beautiful places to travel to and have a hike among spectacular landscapes.

So, what is next? Definitely more trips to other parts of this beautiful island in the nearest future. I am also looking forward to using the new X-T2 cameras with new weather proof 50-140 f2.8 and 16-55 f2.8 lenses. Having two camera bodies with dedicated lenses works best when trekking, unless one is pressed for weight. In that case X-T2 with 50-140 f2.8 will do just perfectly for me. Changing lenses on the go, with winds carrying dust and volcanic ash is complicated. The new combo may not be as light as the kit that I had on my first trip, but it certainly gives a huge bonus of weather sealed lenses and superior optics combined with bigger sensors of XT-2 and dual cards - less card swapping on the go. Looking forward to writing a new blog next summer.

Greenland with Fuji X-T1

This year I could not travel far, so this is a retrospective blog - two years ago I took my then brand new X-T1 and X-E1 (as a backup) paired with 55-200, 14, 18-55 and 35mm lenses and went trekking in Greenland and Iceland for three weeks on tour organised by Icelandic Mountain Guides. At that point I had little experience in landscape photography and did not know Fuji X series cameras very well. But they were light, compact with great quality sensors and importantly all this gear could fit into one Lowepro 102 AW sling pack withND filters, SD cards and 12 extra batteries. Long distance hiking for days puts certain demands on weight and size and for that Fuji X cameras were ideal. I had X-T1 with vertical grip and 55-200 attached in the main compartment of the pack and X-E1 with 18-55 in the smaller top compartment. The sling pack was always slung on my front, over the rucksak shoulder straps (38l Osprey Kestrel) on my back with my day gear. The combo was very comfortable and well balanced, so I had no restrictions in movement and could get either of the cameras out quickly to take a shot.
Post-editing was done in Iridient Developer and Lightroom 6. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.

Karale fjord

Our first camp was at the Karale fjord, a few hours motoboat ride from Kulusuk. The day we arrived the weather was rather grey, but gradually changed to sunny with blue skies and stayed so for more than a week. The granite mountain peaks of East Greenland are about 1000-1500m high and though they look deceptively young they are actually very old having been protected from erosion by an ice cap that is retreating from the coast line now.

first camp, Karale fjord

Karale fjord

Karale fjord

Karale fjord

Karale fjord

Karale fjord

Knud Rasmussen glacier, the magnificent glacier flows into icy waters of Karale fjord, East Greenland. The glacier is named after a similarly magnificent man, Danish polar explorer Knud Rasmussen

Karale fjord

the turtle-like granite rock comes out of the glacier like a giant prehistoric animal awaken after an ice-age. Image taken at Karale fjord, East Greenland.

Karale fjord, view from the first camp

fjord patrol, arctic fox in summer coat, Karale fjord area, East Greenland

leaving Karale fjord

small icebergs on the way to Kuummiut, the intense blue once were flipped over recently

Our second camp was set in the fjord near the Kuummiut village about 50 miles down south. And the final third stop for a few days was at Tasiilaq -  the biggest town (1,800 inhabitants) of East Greenland and has some spectacular views of the fjord with icebergs near by.

Kuummiut village and the fjord

second camp, Kuummiut area

cotton grass (Eriophorum)

I see you -  arctic fox was resting in the shadow of a boulder when I found her/him

icebergs on the way to Tasiilaq

Tasiilaq and fjords from above

icebergs on the way to Tasiilaq

mountain lakes in Tasiilaq area

iceberg near Tasiilaq. the fishing boat gives you an idea of scale

granite mountains near Tasiilaq

sunset at Tasiilaq

The trip was fantastic and using X-series cameras was a joy. This year the new X-T2 is coming, so I will have even better cameras on my future trips paired with new fantastic weather proof and super sharp 50-140 and 16-55 lenses. Finally, I would also like to stress two points that rarely come up in Fuji promotions and advertising. First - that apart from being amazing in quality, well priced and drop dead gorgeously looking, and supplying endless fun whilst shooting - Fujifilm cameras, especially X-T1/2 and X-Pro1/2 are fantastic for learning photography. They certainly taught me a lot in a very short period time. In fact I learnt on the go whilst trekking. Having everything being done via dials combined with the fact that EVF gives you a live view of any changes is a brilliant interactive educational tool. The second point is that although it is important to showcase work of professional photographers who uses x-series for weddings, events, fashion etc, it is also important to show what one can do with these gems of cameras on travel. Combining travel with learning photography results in the never ending fun during and after the journey e.g. this blog entry.