Analog Photography – Back to the basics

I will be honest with you, I am practising photography, as a hobby, not for a long period of time. I picked up an old Canon EOS 20D with 18-55mm from a colleague just about 4 years ago. That’s where it all started, the first encounter of photography and me. My first lens that I bought was the 50mm F/1.8 and since then I was hooked up.

I started to suck in all the information available on the internet about shutter speed, ISO, aperture, focal length, long exposure and bokeh. After hours of researching and writing it all down, I grabbed the camera and went out to convert the written into an actual photograph.

Later that year I picked up the Canon 70D that allowed me to take better quality pictures and the camera was capable of recording video. Main reason for the upgrade, compared to the old 20D, was the less noisy pictures of the Northern Lights and it is kinda an all round camera.

My 35mm SLR collection so far: Konica Autoreflex T3, Canon AE-1 and Canon AE-1 Program

My 35mm SLR collection so far: Konica Autoreflex T3, Canon AE-1 and Canon AE-1 Program

For some reason, I always wanted to try photography. I remember looking at the photographers or the owners of DSLRs at various locations and dreaming about owning myself of one of those cameras. But being an IT student and spending the money on PC components and other various small electronics, I never had a budget do purchase a DSLR or look deeper in this whole subject.

Well that has changed now, owning decent gear that does not limit me to a specific genre but is capable of delivering high performance in different kind of photography, from Landscape, sports, long exposure to astrophrography (Northern Lights).

Skógafoss - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

Skógafoss - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

My heart discovered something new, which is actually not new at all, it’s been there for the last 50-60 years. Its new for me.

My grand grandfather (father of my grandmother) was a painter and a photographer back in the day. My mother and grandmother have told me, that I have my grand grandfathers “eye” of seeing things. Another member of my family, my uncle, was actually doing professional analog photography. He was shooting weddings on 35mm film and was processing it in his own darkroom in his apartment.

I remember that room. My parents dropped me off with my grand grandmother, so she could look after me, while my mother was going to fencing competitions around in Europe. I was very young at that age and I remember how my grand grandmother told me, never to go into that darkroom as I could ruin the photographs. At that point I did not know what or how a photograph was made.

Reynisfjara black beach - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

Reynisfjara black beach - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

Now, nearly 25 years later, I have some understanding of analog photography and a huge desire to do it and to learn to process the film on my own in a dark room.

I have already started to make the first steps in that direction and it’s like Christmas for me.

Shooting 35mm film is just exciting for me. Picking up one of the old cameras that I have, loading the film into them and going out, taking some time to frame the shot, adjusting the exposure settings (aperture and shutter speed), taking the photograph and writing down the information of location, the settings so I can connect later the photograph to the settings it was taken with (analog book).

And so far, I am having a blast. I am really enjoying shooting film and so far, I am not wasting a lot of shots. I am still learning how the film behaves in different light conditions and how far I can push it, in total just finding the limitations on different type of film.

Edinburgh - Waverley Station - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

Edinburgh - Waverley Station - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

I believe, I am doing it wrong. Most older photographers were shooting film and do know how to develop it on their own and have switched to digital just because its faster and more convenient for them to shoot digital.

I am doing it the other way around. Started shooting digital and now discovering the whole topic of analog photography. Main task for this winter, is to start to learn how to process the film on my own the darkroom.

For me, shooting film just feels great. Every time I give a roll of film to the processing, I am like a small child before Christmas, can’t wait to see the results.

Does that mean, that when I will master shooting film and processing it on my own, that I will toss my DSLR to the side and not pick it up again? No, of course not. For me shooting film is like, driving an old-timer on a sunny day for somebody else. Or enjoying whiskey and a cigar with a good book near a fireplace. It’s just something that feels great, it’s something that gives you this specific feeling that you just can’t put in words. You need to try it on your own, or you maybe already have something that gives you this kind of feeling. We do crazy stuff to get our senses stimulated.

Edinburgh Cockburn Street - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

Edinburgh Cockburn Street - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

I just can’t wait to get out of Reykjavik, load up some Fujifilm Velvia 50 or 100 into the camera and try shooting that kind of film.

Is film photography dead? Don't ask me, I am just getting started!

Netherurd - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

Netherurd - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

One strap to rule them all – Chief Mate Unboxing

Every one of us, who carries his camera nearly on daily basis, knows how important camera straps are. There are many straps out there, but only a few fit our requests of functionality and good looking. I mean, for us the camera strap is like a clothing item. It needs to be functional, provide comfort and if it’s possible, good looking too.

Now, I’ve been following Patrick, (https://neunzehn72.de/ - Chief Mate Strap) the creator of this camera strap, for quite a long time. I have even met him and his wife here in Reykjavik for a coffee. He is one of the photographers that inspire me a lot and I just hope that in the near future I will be able to visit one of his workshops.

It quite surprised me, when I saw that Patrick got himself a custom made strap. It did make sense to me, if you are not happy with products out there, you just create one that fits your needs very well. We are living in a time where this is possible. The strap did look very well thought through. It surprised me more when Patrick started a production of those camera straps and I decided to put it on my watch list as something that I want to get my hands on.

Chief Mate camera strap with my gear

Chief Mate camera strap with my gear

Well finally the camera strap arrived and first thing I did is to stick my nose into the strap bag and to smell that leather. I really like the smell of leather :)

I chose Chief Mate strap in Black and Red in size of 138cm, being a bit tall (178cm) this should fit perfectly and yes, it does fit and the camera is positioned on the side exactly where I want it to be.

Chief Mate

Chief Mate

Chief Mate in Black / Red - 138cm

Chief Mate in Black / Red - 138cm

The strap comes with a small bag for it, a small manual and 2 sets of 2 rings (16mm) to fit the camera anchor points. Even better as my Konica Autoreflex T3 has already two of those exact rings, which opens the opportunity to use the Chief Mate strap on 3 cameras.

The 16mm rings that come together with the strap

The 16mm rings that come together with the strap

So with no further delay I have installed the camera strap on the Konica first. Easy and fast process once you have the rings on the camera anchor points.

Easy, the Konica had the 16mm rings already attached to it

Easy, the Konica had the 16mm rings already attached to it

Next would be the Canon AE-1, grab the ring and it’s the same process as putting a ring on your set of keys. After that, grab the camera strap, pull the ring through the slot in the strap, turn the strap 90° and attach the snap link to the ring. And …. That’s actually it. The strap is now on the AE-1. Easy installation, easy removal.

Chief Mate on Canon AE-1 from 1981

Chief Mate on Canon AE-1 from 1981

Ok so far you saw the camera strap on 2 different cameras from 1970’s and 1980’s. How does it look like on a modern mirror less camera?

Let’s take the new M6 (Canon M6, not Leica). It has anchor points that are not as big as on the old 35mm film cameras but still enough to attach the rings that come with the camera strap.

And that’s it, the rings are attached and you can use the Chief Mate strap on something modern. If you visit the Instagram page of Chief Mate  you will see that a lot of mirrorless systems can use this strap, Leica, Fuji, Sony, Hasselblad and even Pentax. So as you can see, this strap system is compatible with lots of cameras.

Which brings me to this point. Canon how difficult is it to include just simple rings with your new mirror less camera? Why do you need to invent the wheel from scratch? Your anchor links are just useless in case of if you want to use a different strap rather than the one that comes with the camera. Your links are not compatible at all. Konica made it simpler with coming with rings. The Canon AE-1 from 1981 came also with much better anchor links, compared to the M6. Also not exactly compatible but it gave me enough room to make it work with modern straps.

I had to fiddle around to make it work with my PeakDesign strap. But now I can remove the anchor links and replace them with the rings from the Chief Mate strap. Which are even more stable and securing your gear safely while you wear it on you.

And what I really like about the Chief Mate camera strap, is that is bloody compatible. Simple and good. If I decide to use my Chief Mate strap on one of the older film cameras and still want to take my M6 with me, I can use my PeakDesign strap. I just install quickly the PeakDesign anchor links, strap in and that’s it. Easy and simple.

Double strap, Chief Mate and PeakDesign

Double strap, Chief Mate and PeakDesign

I think this is the most important point for me, that I can use Chief Mate straps on my cameras with the setup I am feeling comfortable with, without spending a lot of time to swap the anchor links. It just fits easily into my day to day shooting behavior and it’s so simple that is just genius.

Especially, me doing long exposure landscape photography, I need a strap system that I am able to remove from the camera while in the field to reduce the surface area that is affected from the wind. And we have a huge amount of wind here in Iceland, so you will need to remove the strap to reduce the camera shake while you are taking long exposure shots.

This is definitely a product designed and used by a Photographer. I really don’t know how much time was spend into developing this camera strap but as I wrote in the beginning it is very well thought through.

 

Pros:

-          Smells good

-          Looks good

-          Feels good

-          Very good materials are used for those camera straps

-          Compatible with most mirrorless cameras

-          Compatible with different strap systems, in this case PeakDesign

Cons:

I will be honest with you, there are no things that I am not happy with Chief Mate so far. I still need to rock the strap for a few weeks to find the weakest link and I will update this review once something negative will come up.

But I want to use this space to advise a few things that actually have nothing to do with Chief Mate camera strap.

One thing is, that when you get your Chief Mate strap, the strap is a bit stiff. This information is even included in the letter that you get together with your strap. After a few weeks the strap will become a lot softer. That also is the case for the slot in the camera strap where you pull the ring through. In a few weeks of usage it will become a lot softer.

Another thing that has nothing to do with the Chief Mate camera strap or Patrick, is the point that it took 4 weeks to be delivered to me here in Iceland. There are only two ways to get something delivered to Iceland, one way is by plane and another way is by ship.

The camera strap comes from Hamburg, so I already was prepared that it is going to be delivered to Iceland via Ship which is actually not bad at all as it is the Chief Mate :)

There are many camera straps out there if you choose not to use the standard one that comes with your camera. Every photographer needs to find his own strap that fits his photography style that fits his equipment and is compatible with other things.

Camera straps came a long way, the same as your camera. Some manufacturers invented the wheel from the beginning, others just continued to use a simple way. In our time, the camera strap is a clothing item that needs to feel good, be functional but also look good on you.

For me, the Chief Mate fits everything that I need and want from a camera strap. It is so simple and so good. You should check their store out and get your own Chief Mate camera strap

From Hamburg with Love!

From Hamburg with Love!

Back to you Patrick. From Reykjavik with love!

Canon Professional Network – Editor’s Choice 2017 – Public Vote Nomination

To my surprise, I have found out that my picture is nominated, in the category nature and is now online for public voting.

There are 4 different categories for this year’s Editor’s Choice: Nature, Portrait, Sports and Photojournalism.

There are many very good submissions and you should check it out and leave a vote for your favorite:

Canon Professional Network – Editor’s Choice 2017 – Public Vote

Again to my surprise, there are quite a lot of Iceland pictures in Nature category. I can easily spot 3 pictures from Iceland, 2 pictures from Markus van Hauten, ice on the beach probably taken at Jökulsárlón, another picture is the beautiful Vestrahorn.

Another picture from Iceland is taken by Andre Erlich, a beautiful combination of Icelandic lava rocks, hot springs and northern lights. I am not quite sure, but I think this picture was taken at the Blue Lagoon (also on my “to do” list).

I wanted to take some time and write some lines about my submission for this contest. The picture that I have submitted is called “Looking for Þrasi’s chest of gold”.

The idea came in the beginning of January 2016, on my first tour of the year, the South Coast up to Jökulsárlón. We stopped for the night at the famous Skógafoss.

After a nap, to charge the energy for the hunt of Northern Lights at this same location. Unfortunately, Icelandic weather does have its own behavior and was not looking promising, with snow, clouds, hail and strong wind.

Hoping that there will be an opening in the clouds, we still stayed outside and came up with light painting to not waste the time just standing in the cold surrounded by darkness and the strange deep noise of water masses rushing down the hill.

I knew there was a legend about that waterfall and this is how the idea was born: According to legend, the first Viking settler in the area, Þrasi Þórólfsson, buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. The legend continues that locals found the chest years later, but were only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again. The ring was allegedly given to the local church. The old church door ring is now in a museum.

We had a quite strong light source with us but many different aspects just did not fit to capture good results. But the try gave me an idea of what settings to use and what weather conditions need to be met to capture the picture I wanted.

A month later, another South Coast tour up to Jökulsárlón. We stayed at the same hotel and went to bed to get out again later in the night and try to capture some Northern Lights.

But yet again, the weather was not on our side, sky covered by snow clouds and opening again in 10-15 minutes interval. But this time the moon was out and did share some light on the surroundings of Skógafoss.

Equipped, this time with a much stronger light source, we started to recreate my idea of the past visit. It actually did not take us that long to capture a picture that I had in mind. Main difficult part of this picture was, to try and hit that cloud opening to get the light of the moon and have some snow so it reflects the beam of the light source, a little bit of clear sky above the waterfall AND standing still for a 30 seconds exposure. Try that some time when you are in Iceland with strong winds, standing still for 30 seconds is not that easy.

But enough writing, here is the picture: “Looking for Þrasi’s chest of gold”.

Also, don’t forget to cast your votes for the public vote of CPN Editor’s Choice, there are some really good ones.

South Coast in January

The weather in Iceland can be very difficult to predict. Sometimes the weather forecast shows one thing and you actually get a completely different thing. But with the time, the Icelandic Meteoservice has drastically improved. If you check the forecast, you can prepare yourself for that kind of predicted weather, it is sometimes slightly of the time frame, but you can get the idea of the weather for the next couple of hours.

I have checked the weather on Friday and saw that Saturday will be a very sunny and beautiful day. I packed my sunglasses (did not need them for a while now) and my gear and off I went on a January South Coast tour. And it was beautiful. Not exactly a good weather for taking landscape pictures as the sky was nearly completely clear. The best weather for Iceland and taking pictures is still the "Partially Cloudy". But the winter sun offers a special kind of light that you can see in the pictures.

 

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Behind the Scenes

Local Farm at Þorvaldseyri

Snæfellsnes in December

This year is a very strange winter here in Iceland. It is very common that Reykjavik does not get so much snow as other parts of Iceland, like for example Akureyri. Last year on the December the first, Reykjavik was experiencing lots of snow, other parts of Iceland even more. But this year, whole Iceland is completely snow free, with exception of highlands. But even the mountain tops are snow free. Esjan (the mountain that you can see from Reykjavik) has nothing white on top of it.

The weather is also not so bad. Not so many storms with strong winds. We still get strong wind with rain but it’s by far less than last year.

The weather situation brought me on the idea to go for a quick tour over to Snæfellsnes. Last time I was there, was 2 years ago. The weather forecast looked good, with partial clouds and a lot of sun.

The only thing that was an issue was the sun light. 4 hours and 13 minutes. That was the time between the sunrise and sunset.

But still it was a really interesting experience to travel in Iceland in mid-December with no snow.

I was happy to see the seals again at the Ytri Tunga beach. Lying lazy on the rocks, lifting their head to see me and probably think “another crazy photographer”.

I have decided to meet the sunset at Lóndrangar cliffs. Try something new with long exposure and just take a moment and enjoy the elements of sun, wind, landscape and huuuuge waves.

I was even happier that the cloud front slowly started to roll in.

This picture was taken with the new Canon EF 16-35mm F/4 IS. I was testing it out and I am very happy with the results. The camera was 5D Mark IV.

Settings: ISO 640, F/5.6, 15s at 24mm. In front of the lens was a B&W 10 Stop ND filter with B&W circular polarizer.

Lóndrangar cliffs with Sunset

Behind the scenes

Búðir - Black Church