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)

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55 thoughts on “Iceland – Monochromatic

        1. Hi Fe. I have made a lightroom preset that I can send you. You will not get the the tonaldependent noisecontrol that the X-Trans 3 sensor applies in-camera though 🙂 – Just post me your email, and I will send it

    1. Hi Markus. Thank you. Sure thing. I keep it +3-4 on the highlights, and plus 2-3 on the shadows. And it’s usually Acros + Yellow. – But I tweak the jpegs to death afterwards.

  1. Great post – and again, very inspiring! I look forward to the X-T2 where I’ll have one card for RAW ‘backups and one card with my usual jpgs.
    I love your images of Iceland!

  2. Superb images Jonas! I too, am a huge B/W fan, from my 4×5 and 35mm Plus-X, Tri-X, and Tech Pan film days! Using the X-Pro2, I am experimenting with the ACROS film simulation, a major reason to jump on the X-Pro2, rather than waiting on an XT-2, though I still love the ergonomics of the XT-1. Out of curiosity, do you apply any sharpness to your B/W images in post? (I find that the Fuji X-System delivers such great detail, that sharpness in post is almost “optional” now! As a sharpness fanatic, I’m surprised to even say that!) In any case, beautiful images!

    1. Hi Steve. B&W is just “me” – I dunno how else to put it. I feel at home when doing Black and white. It’s crazy. – I apply no shapening to the Acros jepgs. To the Fujifilm RAW files I apply 10% in LR.

  3. Both your images and your words are inspirational! Every time I see photos of Iceland it climbs higher on my “must visit” list. Thank you!

  4. It’s amazing how much we miss out on when we views photos on blogs or elsewhere using our phones (or perhaps I should say my phone???). I viewed this set when you first posted it using my phone and didn’t think much of it – I liked some of the photos but not enough to hang around for very long. Now that I am viewing these photos on an all-in-one desktop with a large monitor, I am in love with many of the shots, some of which are superb. Also the larger monitor means more accurate brightness and contrast settings so the photos look “right” rather than underexposed. And my phone is brand new (hint: it features a Leica lens)!!! Nice work!

    1. I completely agree!! – I tend to view so many sites on my mobile devices, but when I revisit them on my laptop/desktop everything look much better. – Its sad, cause when I look at my statistics, 70 percent of all visits are from mobile devices…… I’m so glad that you found the proper way to view the images. And thank you very much for your kind words! /Jonas

  5. Most, if not all, of the EXIF data shows the X-Pro1, not the XT-2. Why is that? Whichever camera was used there are some wonderful images here.

    1. Hi Robert. All images show X-Pro2 as metadata. – That’s because all of them were shot with the X-Pro2. The X-T2 shot mainly color images 🙂

  6. Hi Jonas, quite impressive images. Thumbs up 🙂
    Is the film simulation on the X-PRO2 the same as in XT-10?

  7. Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us Jonas! There are some wonderful photos in there.

  8. Love the ascetic aesthetic ! Breathtaking images. I’ve never got decent digital B&W, but Acros seems wonderful. That said, the images are superb, irrespective of the tech. Tusind tak !

  9. Awesome awesome photos! How would you set the jpeg settings on the Fuji X70 to look as similar as this as possible? Or is it better to just shoot raw and do it all in post process? What post processing does it take to make the photos look like this? Sorry for all the questions! Just loved the look 😉

  10. Hi Jonas! I’ve discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago while searching for info about fuji cameras….and not only i’ve found all the info i was searching for but an amazing photographer as well! really beautiful pictures! Congrats

    I would really appreciate if you could email me your ACROS preset! pariciotexo@yahoo.com.ar

    Cheers from Argentina

  11. I’ve always had this feeling inside that I would love to visit Iceland despite my admitted lack of real knowledge of the place and people. Photography like yours really reinforces that hunch x1000. Haha

    I absolutely love your monochrome images, they definitely helped get me into using Fuji film and specifically using their mono profiles after all. The words you have added are really conveyed in the images. Dark/light/Solitary/absolutely rugged beauty. Places like this really make one appreciate the awe that the earliest explorers must have felt when they visited now overcrowded and built places like the Americas for instance.

    Love this post. 😉

    1. Thank you so much for those kind words Scott. I feel so privileged when I read that I have awoken something inside other people. So thank you for that.

      /J

  12. While I think all of the images are beautiful, the one with a building on the lower right that looks like a lit-up building is just breathtaking for me. Was that building just white and the image was taken in broad daylight or was that building truly lit up with some light of its own? Regardless, it’s a beautiful photo.

    I have a Fuji X-T10 and I can’t believe how lazy I am to actually go out and shoot. I guess it largely has to do with the warm and humid weather of the country I’m in.

    1. Hi Sajib.

      The building is s mall church on a little hilltop in the town of Vik. It is white, but there was a single beam of light hitting it while there was overcast and cloudy in the mountains in the back. 🙂 Thank you for reading.

  13. Thanks for posting these spectacular images. My wife and I are going to Iceland in two weeks – a trip I’ve wanted to make since I was a teenager over four decades ago! You’ve inspired me to experiment with B&W shots with my new Fuji X100t and wide-angle conversion lens. Thank you. Ed

  14. Superb, as always! Very impressive and uncommon to see Iceland in B&W. Have you planned to write a review of the 16mm? Seems you had fun with it…

  15. Pingback: Iceland, Part 1
  16. Dear Mr. Raskl,

    I have always thought that a “technically” accurate image was one that successfully expressed the EMOTIONAL aspects of the moment. And the degree of purity with which that emotion is expressed defines its technical quality.

    So, while, as you say..

    “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…”

    I must disagree… for by my eye, you came pretty damn close 🙂

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