Iceland - A Mixed Bag of Weather and Light

Joshua Holko looks back on another successful workshop. This expedition took him all over Europe with a dramatic ending in Iceland. With over 4000 frames taken this trip “really ticked the remaining boxes for [Josh] in terms of Iceland’s major landmarks.”

As was to be expected, Iceland served up a mixed bag of weather and light on this trip. With fickle and constantly changing arctic weather, Iceland’s climate is never stagnant or boring. We encountered the best light of the trip one early morning (2:00am) in Veiðivötn (the crater lake area) where a fog was hanging over the black volcanic tephra craters. For a period of around 30 minutes the light was magical as the rising sun slowly burned off the fog, revealing a wonderful play of light (those photographs will come later). We also had beautifully soft light on the Snaefaelsness Peninsula late in the evening, around midnight, and a fiery sunrise at the geothermal Hveravellir. This was a nice contrast for me because my last visit to Hveravellir was under overcast skies in windy conditions.



Although I packed both the Canon 1DX and 1DS MK3 on this trip, I shot exclusively with the 1DX throughout my travels in Europe and Iceland. The 1DS MK3 never made it out of the bag. I am ecstatic with the quality of the files from the 1DX and it has surpassed my expectations as a camera in all respects. The auto focus is blisteringly fast and accurate and the metering is as good as anything I have previously encountered. Technologically, the Canon 1DX is a tour de force game-changing camera that not only allows for shooting handheld in virtual darkness with near noiseless files, but also produces superb results for landscape and wildlife at more moderate ISO ranges. I was skeptical when Canon announced the 1DX as a direct replacement for both the 1DMKIV and 1DSMK3 but will happily eat my fill of humble pie, because the results speak for themselves. After shooting with the 1DX in Europe and Iceland, my 1DS MK3 has now been relegated to a back-up only body and may well be replaced with another 1DX in the future. When I get time I will update my equipment page as I have added a number of different lenses since the last update.
In terms of lenses, I used almost everything I bought with me (which was considerable). The exception was the 90mm TSE, which was a last minute inclusion and, in the end, not needed. My most utilized lenses were the 24mm F1.4L MKII and the Canon 35mm F1.4L, closely followed by the 70-200mm F2.8L IS. I also shot quite a lot of frames with the 17mm F4L TSE and the 300mm F2.8L IS. Other participants shot with the Zeiss 21mm, Canon 24mm TSE MKII, 70-200mm F4L IS and other similar focal length lenses on their Canon 5D MKIII’s, 1DsMKII’s and 1DMKIV’s.  After hauling my 70-200 F2.8L IS all over Europe, I am now considering selling it and replacing it with the much lighter F4L IS version. Since I rarely shoot this lens wide open it makes little sense to carry the extra weight. In terms of image quality the two lenses are virtually identical when they are stopped down to F5.6, so the decision is purely a matter of weight.

Jump over to Josh’s blog to see some more great shots and to read the rest of the story. Oh and while you’re there register to join Josh on his next trip to Antarctica.