Iceland – Monochromatic

This post has been stirring with me for a while. Reasons are multiple, but mainly it has been because of the timing of things. It’s no longer a secret that I have been testing the new Fujifilm X-T2 since mid april. As part of my testing I took the camera with me to Iceland on a trip that was planned for a while.

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I did a story for Fujifilm-x.com about using the X-T2 in this setting. You can read it here. But my intention with the Iceland trip had always been about something else than the X-T2. Being a HUGE fan of monochrome photography, and its strengths and weaknesses I really wanted to do a monochrome representation of my trip. I have seen images from Iceland done in monochrome from the likes of Jan Grarup and Ragner Axelsson when testing the Leica Monochrom.

I thought that using my experience with Acros film simulation would do me good while trying to achieve my look and feel for the series. I set my cameras to shoot RAW + Acros Jpeg. I simply didn’t have the courage to rid myself completely of the color option. Everything I saw through the viewfinder of my X-Pro2 was in black and white. This way I forced myself to think in luminance levels. Light and shadow. Shapes and forms.

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All the images has been developed as Acros jpegs from camera, then run through Lightroom CC, and I have added a slight curve, vignetting as needed as well as contrast enhancements. This is the look I want from my monochromes. I don’t need to much details in greys. I want direct spectrum opposites.

Iceland is breathtaking. I really don’t have proper words to describe the absolutes that exist in this country. From the minute you arrive at Keflavík International airport you’re graced with a volcanic landscape reminiscent of remote planets in sci-fi movies. Even though this landscape prevails in some areas, what makes Iceland so special is the multitude of different types of landscapes. All that can be said is that they’re all quite epic in their own right. We only visited the south-west part of the country. I sincerely think that geographic restriction like that is good to avoid sensory overload!

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What struck me most about the Icelandic scenes was how quickly the light would chance. If you had a scenery framed, but the lighting wasn’t right, you rarely had to wait more than 5 minutes to get proper illumination. Very unlike the light I’m used to working with in Denmark. Weather change was as rapid as the lighting changes. They go hand-in-hand, so I guess it’s to be expected.

Sometimes the vast emptiness of sceneries really got to me. I cannot remember the last time I have been flabbergasted several times an hour. I often simply put down my cameras and stood still. No thought in mind. No activity worth mentioning. Just embracing it, taking it all in. Trying to convey those emotions and that feeling of sheer grandeur through such a limited medium such as photography is not possible. You can try. You can get close, but the result will suffer from loss. Loss of being present.

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What I really find great about conveying the sceneries in monochrome, is that it allows me to accentuate tranquility. It gives the images that feeling of silence that I often experienced when just being present in the moment instead of behind the viewfinder. The feeling of solitude. It’s a big part of the beforementioned feeling of epic vast nature. I think monochrome does this so much better than color images.

Take away. Don’t add.

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Reykjavik was a different beast. A confined ecosystem within the vastness. Urban environment as I have come to appreciate as my scene. My playground. Here the sceneries are played out containing emotion, human prescence and intimacy among souls. The backdrops are second nature. Requisites.

Again, I tried to play with the light. Embracing harsh shadows. Trying to create solitude in a place of multitudes.

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I don’t think I’ll be adding too much more text into this post. I think I’ll just let the rest of the images talk in their own language.


Icelandic Monochromatic – (Click the gallery for exif and full view)


Reykjavik Monochromatic – (Click the gallery for exif and full view)