Landscape photography Gear for the Faroe Islands

As I am left with some extra frequent flyer miles from a previous line of work, I decided to end my summer holidays with a last-minute landscape photography trip to the Faroe Islands. This had been a goal of mine for a while and the prospect of escaping the summer heatwave was very enticing.

The trip focused on photography so most of my luggage was occupied by camera gear, the rest was filled with camping gear. The camping gear was unused during the trip since I quickly decided for a hotel instead of camping sites. When I go back, I will stick with camping since I spent very little time in the hotel.

I traveled with my Fuji X-T2 and three lenses, two of which I own and one rental which I wanted to test out to decide if I should buy it.

Fuji X-T2

This was a new camera bought after giving myself awhile to try out my last camera (a Nikon d700) which was ditched due to weight considerations. This is a small mirrorless APS-C sensor camera which offers weather sealing and a 24mp sensor. For me however the main reason for going with this camera is the weight, right now the body and two lenses weigh less than my old Nikon 80-200 2.8 lens did, leaving me with a massive weight saving in my hiking bag. However, there are a few things that I miss from my D700 mainly battery life, the fuji has decent stamina but to get close to the D700 I have to carry three extra batteries which is an annoying extra hassle. I also kind of miss the full frame sensor, something that I could have fixed by going with a Sony camera however the small format and the excellent controls on the fuji camera tips the scale for me.

The camera has a screen the tilts and flips sadly though it does not flip in all directions making the placement of the camera in a tripod crucial, at least if you want the benefit of a tilt screen.

Fujinon XF 23mm 2.0

This 35mm full frame equivalent lens is the focal range I’ve missed the most since last year’s switch from a X100 to the d700 so getting it back was I high priority for me. Luckily fuji have created some stunning lenses to pair with their mirrorless cameras. This one is no exception its weather sealed reasonably bright and provides excellent details. But as with the body itself the main thing for me is the handling of everything except manual focus. Fuji seems to have decided to go all in with focus by wire something that just does not work to satisfaction, this was a massive drawback on the x100t where the autofocus just could not keep up with moving objects and frequently missed. Fuji have rectified this with the X-T2 which focuses nicely especially when paired with a fuji prime such as this.

The focal range has always been a favourite of mine since it’s wide enough for most types of photography without introducing too much distortion. Compared to the 50mm range it do feel it makes the images a bit more interesting giving them a bit more depth.

Fujinon XF 50mm 2.0

This 75mm full frame equivalent lens have almost everything in common with the 23mm lens mentioned above. If anything separates them, I would say it’s the lens hood which on the 50mm is a lot more useful however it’s lacking a cut out for operating filters with the hood on.

As for the focal range I mainly use it for studio photography and as a short tele, for the later it’s lightly to short but the 24mp resolution of the X-T2 allows for some cropping to alleviate this issue. For studio work however, I find that it fits my two small studio spaces perfectly since the limited space makes any longer lenses hard if not impossible to use.

Fujinon 10-24mm 4.0

This is a lens I rented for this trip looking for a good wide-angle lens, my main concerns however were the dark aperture. This fairly obvious issue is followed by two slightly more hidden issues, size and weight. Even though the lens is fairly small compared to a full frame zoom, it is huge compared to the other primes and the X-T2 body. It is also a heavy lens bumping the weight up considerably, this is despite the fact that lens is not weather sealed and like the rest of fuji’s lenses uses a focus by wire system.

The short end of the focal range is wonderful, especially for landscapes. It’s been a few years since I had anything wider than 35mm (full frame) at my disposal and wide angel is a lot more fun then I remembered.

Three-Legged Thing Algot

This is the tripod I bought for my D700 and as such it is a bit too heavy for my new lighter camera. It is still an extremely good tripod and not really lacking in any major department. It’s designed to be flipped on itself for storage and transport, something that works well for storage but is a bit cumbersome while on a hike, luckily it can still be collapsed entirely in the regular way with the drawback of a longer total package.

For the trip to the Faroes I opted to bring the middle rod which is removable and reversible, which is useful if you want the camera close to the ground. On most of my other trips I have decided against bringing the middle rod, especially since the tripod even without it is high enough.

Filters

For this camera I have gone with screw on filters, since a 100mm filter kit would be very big compared to the rest of the system forcing me to carry a bigger bag.

This does however leave me with a bit of a step-up mess since all my lenses uses different filter rings. Currently I have solved this for the 50mm and for the rental 10-24mm lens but my trusty 23mm will have to manage without.

I am using a combination of a Syrp Variable ND and a small set of BW ND’s 3 and 6 stop together with a polarizer. This gives me a fair range on the ND abilities however I have had some issues with the variable ND on the wide-angle lens. I get the expected cross pattern, but so far, I have been able to manage with using ND 1-6 which on the syrp works well.

Lowepro Protactic 350 AW

This have been my main photography bag for a few years now and it offers almost everything I need. This is at the cost of a fairly high weight and some limitations in how you structure the internal cabinet. The later one of these issues exists only if you want to be able to open all the available entry points to the bag. With my move to a mirrorless setup I have been able to fit a lot more non-technical equipment in the bag making it a lot easier to bring along on day trips. Right now, I load it up with my camera gear, rain clothes, water and some tools. Making life a lot easier when hiking to and back from photo locations, sadly the tripod does not fit inside the bag and the length makes it unpractical to use the included tripod pouch that mounts on the back. I’ve instead opted to use the included straps and some extra cord to tie the tripod to the back of the bag. This works but is slightly unpractical when arriving at a location. I am therefore looking into using a short length of elastic bands instead of the extra cord I use which will cut out the tying and untying of knots every time I want to use my tripod.

52 Weeks: Week 2 Rule of Thirds

In a classic fashion I’ve almost managed to miss the second week of a 52-week challenge, hopefully I will get into a grove soon. But the challenge for the week was the rule of thirds which is a very useful compositional tool.

And even if my initial ambition was to do something a bit more than to “just” use the rule of thirds for a composition, my less the optimal planning made me have to settle with some flower photography at home. Luckily, I find that it’s in the otherwise slightly bland images that the rule of thirds has the biggest impact. Here it get’s the space to have a big impact on the appearance of an image without being overshadowed by other compositional trickery.

And like I did before I decided to spend some time looking through old pictures and see where I have decided to use the rule of thirds before. While doing this I realised that I use it seldom and when I do it’s mostly by cropping in post. I also saw quite a lot of images that might have been helped by a different subject placing. So, to help me with this I decided to enable the framing guidelines in my camera making it slightly easier to hit the rule of thirds for quick shots as well.

But for this weeks submission I went with the following

10 Tips for a summer photography trip to the Faroe Islands

During the summer of 2018 I went to the Faroe Islands to do some photography and to escape the European heatwave. When reflecting on the trip I realised that I did some things very well and that there were some things I should have done differently. So, I decided to summarize them in 10 tips for the Faroe Islands. These mainly concern planning and weather since that seems to be the major issues when going to the Faroes.

 

1. Start with accommodation

Since there is so much to see in the Faroe Islands you will probably find beautiful things to photograph everywhere however finding a place to sleep is a bit harder. Therefore, I suggest starting your planning with sleeping arrangements and working out locations from there.

 

2. Get some wheels

I truly believe that if you like me have limited time for travel getting a car to move around in the Faroes is the best way. There are so many beautiful spots along the roads that would be inaccessible by public transport. With unlimited time I might suggest walking or bicycling however that puts extra strain on the accommodation planning since places to sleep mainly located around largish villages. Any wild camping is prohibited and I would strongly recommend against it especially since the areas pristine nature and culture is worth preserving.

As for the type of car I would go with the smallest one you can find, during summer at least there is no need for anything other than a regular small car. You will however have to take care while driving especially in the fog it’s all too easy to miss a sharp turn and have to enjoy a few hundred meters of tumbling, or for that matter to hit a gracing sheep something I believe the locals look down upon.

 

3. Have backup plans

Make sure that you scout out at least twice the number of locations that you feel you have the time for. You will probably be forced to cancel at least half due to weather conditions, having a few backups that work in different weather makes reorganising the trip simple and the short distances involved makes a mid-day switch easy.

Weather sealing isn’t necessary for the most part but on the Faroes it really helps

Weather sealing isn’t necessary for the most part but on the Faroes it really helps

 

4. Bring rain gear for you and your equipment

You can be certain that it will rain sometime during your visit but if you bring good rain gear and weather sealed equipment that will only give you a different perspective on some of the classic views.

5. Bring a sturdy tripod

High winds are almost as certain as rain causing some issues especially for longer exposures, however a sturdy tripod and something to weight it down might give you the stability you need to get the shoot. Or at least to keep your equipment, on the day I arrived I went to Mulafossur and the winds where reaching 20m/s making it hard both to stand up and to make sure that I got all the gear back. A good solution would have been to tie the tripod to my bag making the package a lot easier to deal with. Sadly, I only figured this out the day after...

6. Give it time

After arriving at a location make sure to give it ample time before moving on with the constantly changing weather five extra minutes might give you that perfect moment. You can always spend the time enjoying the beautiful views.

 

7. Avoid the first route selected by Google maps

When planning your drives try to make sure that you aim for the smaller roads this gives you the opportunity to stumble on some hidden gems. With some careful planning you could also avoid taking the same route twice further improving the possibilities for unexplored viewpoints.

8. Bring offline maps

As a swede mainly traveling in the Nordic countries I have become used to free roaming, however the Faroes is a bit different. I therefore suggest making sure that you download both your entertainment and any maps you might require before leaving home. This also makes for a good way to make sure your planning is organised.

 

9. Follow the green flowery signs

When driving make sure that you have enough time for detours, especially along any roads marked with green signs. These signs are used to mark the scenic routes and they are well worth the extra time.

 

10. Step away from the road

While driving it’s all too easy to just top right next to the road when you notice an amazing view. And while doing this is preferable to just driving past, I would strongly recommend that you take the time to leave the car and explore the area (provided you find a safe spot to park the car in of course)

52 Weeks: Week 1 Self Portrait

This is week one of the 52 frames challenge which I aim to complete during 2019. My main motivation for such a challenge is to improve the consistency of my intentional photography. And to that end I will also try and describe the process and thoughts behind my submissions during the year. This effort is made to force reflection on the process and help me analyse the results and hopefully improve with the extra effort.

As the title suggest this week’s project is a self-portrait, something that I’ve always had trouble defining. It seems that it can be anything from a regular portrait describing your outwards appearance to an abstract piece representing your innermost thoughts or anything in between. Both options provide ample space for introspection and scrutiny of how you represent yourself making it a very revealing type of art.

Looking back through my pictures I’m rarely in front of the camera and when I am its mostly together with someone else, which might be revealing. I can also see that once I started working with studio strobes the number of images where I am the lone subject skyrocketed which probably comes down to availability.

The reason for the lack of images of me is probably two-fold, partly it’s because I’ve ended up as the guy with the camera which of course leads to me spending a lot of time behind instead of in front of the camera. The other part is connected to a desired to avoid introspection, something that I’ve lately realised is an important part of improvement. This realisation was at least for me very connected with becoming a father and being suddenly realising that I had to help my son through life.

So, to try and expand on the simple self-portrait without being to abstract I decided to go with a simple portrait in a slightly unusual format. I decided on this simple approach as a good stepping stone towards improving my self-expression. And even though the concept is minimal I find that it becomes an honest representation of how I see myself.

2018 a look back

Another year have past and its time to look back and reflect, take pleasure in achievements and look forward to a new year of possibilities. Globally and politically this have been a turbulent year, the Swedish elections ended up in a stalemate with no apparent solution, the US stance in foreign polices seems to have shifted and Brexit seems to be a fact. Luckily, I am in a position where the effects of this turbulence is less noticeable. So instead of lamenting the state of the world I can focus on what I can influence.

So, what about my actual 2018, it’s been a very quiet year in writing. Partly since it’s been a very active year everywhere else, I’ve managed to travel quite a lot more than the previous year and I have gotten back to work after spending a large part of 2017 on parental leave. Mainly this is a year where I have landed, I’ve found a home that I can come back to, I’ve gotten married and I have spent more nights than ever before sleeping in my tent.

Of course, there are things that I could have done differently but in general it’s been a good year where I have manged to enjoy work, get time with my family and engage in my hobbies.

Marrying the love of my life and mother of my child have been a very positive part of this year. However, as a learning point, I guess the lesson is learnt and now I just need to avoid repeating it.

So, what can I actually take with me into this new year, my trips to the Faroes and France brought home the importance of planning, especially when collaborating with other people in unknown locations.  I’ve managed to slim down the amount of equipment I bring to almost every situation allowing me to be a lot more flexible when moving around. Sadly, I have kind of failed in the task of getting to know my surroundings something I’ve always have a hard time with. I’ve almost spent more time photography Norway after I moved back from Oslo than during the 3 years I lived in country. And despite living almost 4 years in the north of Sweden I’ve seen very little of the Swedish mountain ranges. So, it comes as no surprise that I still have a very limited knowledge of what beauty currently surrounds me in the forests surrounding my new hometown.

Another ambition that I have come up short on is in sharing more of my work, I almost never publicise or share in my already existing networks and this year hasn’t been any better. Luckily the coming year should provide ample opportunity to share.

To end on a high note, I would like to give some props to clondon and to all the participants of the print swap on r/photography (I will post a summary of all images I’ve been sent). It’s been wonderful to see other people’s work.

My 2018 have concluded thanks for everyone who participated.

My house

At the moment I am trying to translate an image in my head into a photograph and since this process and the alternatives fascinate me I thought I would describe it here. 

I am trying to take a picture visualising the mood of an old hut placed near a local beach, however as I try to find the correct image I have come up with multiple alternatives which I feel convey some of the intent.  It is however very interesting to see that small changes in crop or weather makes the feeling of the image slightly different. This slight change does make it hard to pinpoint the exact feeling I am looking for which of course is part of the challenge.

I am still trying to find the right way to portray this view however looking at the results I am starting to lean towards a collection of images, the area lends itself to the imagination.