Iceland Intensive

Jared Fein and fellow Oakville Camera Club member Wojtek Zlobicki found themselves on the same Martin Bailey Iceland Workshop earlier this year and they presented a review of their adventure last night at the club meeting. (BTW Martin Bailey has an enhanced podcast with lots of his own images.)

First off let me say that I’ve spent most of my life editing photos for newspapers and magazines and I know what I like and I really liked what I saw last night. (It helped that the organizers killed the lights in the auditorium so we could completely appreciate the images.)

Most big-time pros will tell you that if they get a handful of exceptional images in their entire career they can retire happy.

Jared and Wojtek managed to do this in one 14-day workshop!

Why? Of course they are very competent amateur photographers who knew what they were doing and were both carrying pro-level full-frame cameras and lenses. BTW there’s nothing wrong with being an amateur photographer. I’ve been a pro shooter all my life and all that means is somebody paid me to shoot for the last 40 years. Now I too am trying to become an amateur shooter which only means I am shooting for the love of photography and not because somebody wants to pay for my time and talent.

There’s another reason why they got such great images. Iceland is an insanely great place to shoot photos. I call it a target-rich environment. Best of all, the workshop took place in September which is a couple of weeks after the main tourist season so there weren’t a lot of random folks standing in front of the image.

Jared and Wojtek’s images were so good that I heard myself saying things like “wonderful” and “amazing” in my outside voice. I wasn’t the only one in the audience of roughly 80 to 100 folks.

The photo below shows what the photographers were up against when it came to just walking around but it’s the only image I could find and I wish the guys would post a gallery of their images on Flickr or elsewhere for you to be amazed at the quality of the shooting. (The green look to the moss and grass is pretty close to what’s actually there!)

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(Photo above by Jared Fein 2014 found on the Oakville Camera Club’s Facebook Page.)

Even better than just watching fabulous images, I learned a few new things and anytime I can learn something new it’s a good presentation and this one was terrific.

Lesson one: If you’re going to Iceland to shoot photos buy two pairs of the best semi-mountain terrain hiking boots you can afford. This will prevent you from breaking an ankle;

Lesson two: Buy the best waterproof winter (not water resistant) outer wear (jacket and pants that zip up the sides so you don’t have to take your boots off) and bring spares. Get dark colours so you blend into the background if other shooters get you in the image, And yes it’s expensive clothing but you’ll thank yourself everyday you’re in Iceland 🙂

Lesson three: Shoot full-frame. This is going to cost more than the trip (around $6000 plus flight) but not only should you be shooting full frame (much much better than DX for landscapes of this size and scope) but your cameras must be waterproof as well and it wouldn’t hurt to use waterproof covers on your camera and lenses. This limits you to the high-end expensive Canons and Nikons. Despite what I just said I’d be temped to shoot with a waterproof digital Olympus Pen OM-D series camera. The pros will laugh hysterically but you’ll come back with amazing images at 1/3 the price of their equipment!

Lesson four: Unless your significant other is an avid photographer leave him or her at home. Four days standing in front of a glacier shooting images is likely grounds for a divorce for non-shooting spouses especially if they’re cold (which they are going to be) and wet to very wet (which everybody was at one point or another). Enthusiastic amateur photographers will ignore the weather 🙂

Lesson five: Once you come back with your 4,000+ images (stored in 3 or 4 devices) edit your images in Lightroom and use NIK (the guys loved NIK) external editors (Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro) and take some Lee neutral density filters so you can get that dreamy look to your images of water.

It rained every day but one and the wind was relentless. Everyday there was an off-road equipped bus ride to the shooting locations. One day included a Zodiac trip to shoot icebergs.

More than one very expensive camera got dropped on the rocks and at least one camera and a bag of lenses went into the salt water. Tripods got blown over. Not good and a reason to have pro-level riders on your pro-level camera equipment.

This is why you should join your local camera club and go to meetings. Not only will you learn to be a better photographer but guys like Jared and Wojtek will blow you away. A great presentation by two very good photographers.

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