Iceland – A Portfolio

Iceland has found itself in the news for all the wrong reasons this past two months.

Iceland’s economic miracle turned out, like so many others of late, to be little more than hyper-leveraged fiction. While the boom times are over, Iceland remains a place of uncommon beauty and uncommon people.

So, as an antidote to the endless stream of cliched images of Icelanders waiting outside for the (pick one of three) failed Bank to open I offer a collection of (mostly) coastal Iceland landscapes.

Canon EOS 5d / 5D II Autofocus: More than adequate – much more.

There are many folks, some more reasonable than others, who have faulted Canon for using the same 9-point autofocus layout in the new / real-soon-now 5D II as the current / previous 5D.

This superb image set of Our New President and Our New Vice President, were taken with the original 5D. As I write this, over 1.25 million folks have viewed some or all of these 82 images. I will wager that not one of them thought, “boy, if there were more autofocus points and they were more widely dispersed, these would have been even better.” Not one.

But there is always the next toy. The original 5D’s LCD, now nearly three years old, can makes it sometimes seem more like a film camera with histograms. It is not water tight. It’s frame rate is pitifully slow…

…and it has a sensor that is (still) as good as any and better than most. Despite all the nattering, in the right hands it took these images. The Canon EOS 5D is, still, an excellent general purpose tool. It will remain, for some time to come, a better camera than most of us are photographers.

Specific to Landscape Photography – A Digital Image Workflow

Landscape photography is, as I discovered most of 25 years ago, nothing more than being a good technician, a passable artist and, most importantly, being there, set up and ready to shoot. These are the minimum qualifications. The ideal is to transcend the first two and to work hard in order to do so as often as possible.

f/8 and be there. With some lenses, f/11 and be there… If you hauled in a view camera, f/22 and be there…

A shooting day starts early, silly early, and ends only after the sun has set, the sky has gone dark, and a place has been found to spend the night. The middle of the day, when light is irredeemable, is spent looking for pictures, catching up on paperwork, planning, napping (see getting up early and going to bed late above) and traveling from here to there (the photography is almost always better there than it is here.)

Even as I’ve gone away from film and towards digital, the rhythm of shooting landscapes has barely changed.

A Very Simple Digital Workflow for the Landscape Photographer

Shoot exclusively in RAW. There are reasons to shoot JPEG but landscape photography is surely not one of them.

A bad memory card will cause heartache. Buy name brand memory cards and buy them in intermediate sizes. I’ve settled on 8 Gb Sandisk Ultra III for both Compact Flash and SDHC cards. No failures after thousands of frames.

A lost memory card will cause even greater heartache. Store them in a safe, dry place with two zippers between the card the outside world. Three zippers is better. Four zippers will, sooner than later, piss you off. Open the zippers to get to your card stash and, now this is where some folks get confused, close all the zippers when you are done.

As an aside… Cameras that write to multiple cards only seem expensive.

Back up your work each and every day.

I back up onto two Hyperdrive Space memory card backup devices. The Hyperdrive Space is a simple, relatively cheap and, very importantly, fast device. I use two because every hard drive every made has or will fail. I bought mine empty and currently have Seagate 160 Gb hard dives installed.

One of the Hyperdrives stays with me at all times. The other Hyperdrive is always separate and as well hidden as I know how.

I rotate through my three sets of memory cards. This gives me, for a day or two, a third back up for the most recent image files.