10.30.2018

We went to a glacier. It was huge.

We traveled a lot today and one of the places we went to was a glacier near Vik, Iceland. It was pretty amazing. If you are traveling with a group and have constrained time schedule you could not do better, when choosing cameras and lenses, than to include a long range zoom. Something that goes from a good wide angle to a competent telephoto. I brought lots of different lenses with me but the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 Pro lets me crop into a tight detail shot or portrait shot and then, seconds later, zoom out to include broad vistas. Not having to change lenses when the winds blowing and stuff is flying around could mean the difference between an operable camera and a dead brick.

One of my travel companions is shooting with a Sony full frame and has one of the wide to long zooms for that system and the only other lens I've seen him shoot in the last two days is the Sony 16-35mm. His images have been turning out incredibly well.

Tonight we're going out to chase the Northern Lights. I'm taking one camera and one lens but this time it's the G9 and the Panasonic/Leica 8-18mm. I'm assured by my landscape friends that the wider the better when it comes to capturing the magic of the waves of light. We'll see if they are correct.

More to come after I have additional time for post processing. Hope everyone is well. I'm loving the feedback.

10.29.2018

Reykjavik and close by. October 29, 2018

Woke up in one of the more comfortable beds I've slept in and went downstairs in the Canopy Hilton to have a filling breakfast. Today we visited places like a church in the middle of the city. a fishing village a few minutes away from the capitol, a botanical garden, and even stopped at a Bonus grocery store (Bonus is the actual name) to compare prices with the same stuff we might buy at home. We haven't gone out to the big stuff yet, like the glaciers, the waterfalls, the Blue Lagoon or the Golden Circle. We start on the cool itinerary tomorrow. I guess the rationale was to get our "sea legs" under us and not push too hard after everyone's long travel days and the Saturday night with no sleep.

Last night, after dinner, I put on my coat and went out for a walk through the downtown area where I found the lovely display above and the fun marketing posters just below. The top is just exterior signage and props for a bar but the image below is advertising for Mink Studios. Apparently the business has many viking props and customers can choose various scenarios and be photographed in Viking Character and take home prints of their inner Viking self. I love it. It's just what folks used to do in Texas when big instant films were all the rage. Not the Viking thing but the dress up, period regalia; only in Texas it was always cowboy hats and chaps or dresses with bustles.



I don't have much else to say except that stories about the prices in Iceland being breathtaking were both true and false. A steak in a nice restaurant here will run to $50 but there are steak houses in Austin where prime ribeyes can run to $125, and a $50 (good) steak is the high average. Mixed drinks and wine are about 50% higher than what I see in good places in Austin while the price I paid for a decent mixed drink in one of the smaller U.S. towns I recently visited was about 50% lower than Austin prices, so I guess when it comes to alcohol it's all location and  context. Prices on some things in Reykjavik can be expensive but the place is heralded as the top tourist destination for international travel so I guess the Icelanders are making hay while the sun shines. Nobody seems to be complaining about it... For meals that come out of my pocket I'm not economizing and they end up being on par with what we pay at home.

But let's talk cameras for a few sentences. I could not have made a better choice (for me and my tolerance to carry and use cameras right now) than the Panasonic G9 and the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 Pro lens. The combination is light enough to carry around and the results can be tremendous. I do find myself reaching for the Pana/Leica 15mm f1.7 when the light starts to drop. It's turned out to be a surprising lens for me because, in the past, I've never warmed up to medium wide focal lengths. The size and build of the lens just beg one to use it all the time and the results so far exceed the stuff I read on sites like that of Lloyd Chambers, and others, that I no longer believe any reviewer who hasn't put a lens on a test bench and put it through its paces. 

The other great lens for walking around at night is the Sigma 30mm f1.4. It's super sharp and the fast aperture is the difference between being able to shoot handheld after dark, or not. Finally, I'm glad I upgraded my Apple laptop for the WP Engine show I did back in late September because it's easy to pack, fast as lightning, and the retina display is making me smile every time I look at it. 

That's all I've got today on cameras and gear but I do have an observation on winter wear. I brought along a jacket that's warm and weather proof. It's funny because the brand name is: Weatherproof. I felt comfortable bringing it along instead of rushing out and buying something North Face-y or 66 Degrees because it's the same jacket I took to Toronto last year and it stood up to 10 degrees Farenheit for several hours at a time and never left me shivering. Today it handled temperatures around freezing and weather that included rain, snow and sleet all in the course of our eight hour outing. It's funny because it's a coat I picked up on a whim at Costco.com a few years back for the princely sum of $39. So much for cost as a determiner of performance.... 

We're up earlier tomorrow so we can get some driving done. For those of you who've been to Iceland I thought I'd tell you we are heading to Vik in the south part of the island and then into the interior. I just heard that one of my favorite Vloggers, James Popsys, is also here in Iceland and I hope to run into him. His YouTube channel is unpretentious and fun. And he shoots with a Panasonic G9. 

The only downside of the trip so far? I miss Studio Dog. I've been looking for souvenirs to bring back for her. Haven't found anything yet but it's early times. 

All the people on the photo tour are really nice and we've had some great meals together. They are also not too, too chatty in the van. A nice quality all around. 

Big socks and tough boots tomorrow! Be well and keep reading. Comments always welcome.

































yes. I know. I'm not a landscape shooter but I'm learning, honest.

10.28.2018

Just in case you were worried... I made it in one piece and we landed ONE HOUR early. Hello Reykjavik.


It's pretty typical for inexpensive flights to arrive in Reykjavik first thing in the morning. Nowhere near the crack of dawn; instead, think 6:00 am. The KEF airport was abosutely packed with people coming in and going out at that hour. Customs and immigration was quick, easy and good natured. I stopped by the duty free shop (taking advice read on many, many websites...) to get a bottle of very good Icelandic vodka. It's called, "Volcanic Vodka" and it's really good. The idea is that if you are a person who wants an occasional nightcap or a quiet drink while typing a blog post you might want to take advantage of the low prices at duty free as the per drink price at a nice hotel in Reykjavik might run to $20 USD per drink at the bar. Or about the price of a bottle of premium vodka from the airport shop...

There are about 8 eight people in our group, not counting the tour director and the driver/guide. We have our own Mercedes Sprinter van to travel around in but everyone's first day obstacle in an early arrival is what to do after the plane arrives (6 am) but before your hotel room is available for check in. We visited Viking World to see a replica viking boat. We visited the Perlan Museum to mostly go up to the observation deck for great views of the city then we toured the city and had a great lunch.

But you can only go so far on no sleep and we were all quite happy when we finally checked into the Canopy Hilton (a wonderful hotel, one of the my favorites from the last 30 years!!!) and collapse onto a bed. I bucked the tradition of trying to power my way through the day in hopes of sleeping through the night. I hit the bed as soon as I checked in and unpacked. I set an alarm for three hours, got up, showered, shaved and headed downstairs to one of the better dinners I've had in a while. We started with an Arctic char, headed on to a grilled lamb with vegatables, and finished up with a nice chocolate mousse. The group was lively and the discussions about photography were first rate.

I shot a bit today but was exhausted from both my last two weeks of shooting non-stop and my 24 hours of sleeplessness.

The child in the image above was throwing a tantrum and trying to incite his (very calm) parents by taking off his gloves and forcefully throwing them away. I smiled at him and he started showing off. I asked his parent if I could photograph him and they agreed. I love the image. It's my favorite one of Iceland so far. (Lumix g9, Olympus 12-100mm). Who needs glaciers who you have toddlers in snowsuits?

Off to sleep. Tomorrow really starts our big adventure.