Iceland on Film, Part IV
Húsavík and northern regions
Four days ago I arrived in Iceland for the purpose of taking photos with couple of my friends. I only took a 35mm film camera with me. If you are wondering what happened before, you can read the previous chapters of the story here: Part I, Part II, Part III.
So, we woke up in Akureyri in Sulur Guesthouse. It was great change since we had been sleeping in tent so far and staying in line for 5 minutes of shower. In there we had nice beds and bathroom that was shared with just two other guests not 150 like on some of the camping sites.
I was already going through fifth roll of film from the total of ten I had brought with me. I was thinking I just might need some resupply in this front. Akureyri, being the second biggest city in Iceland was probably my last option of getting any film before returning to Reykjavik, so our first destination was a camera store.
Pedromyndir was pretty well supplied camera store with really helpful staff. Unfortunately they didn’t have any Kodak film at all, so I grabbed some Fuji 200 which I hadn’t used before. I have used Fuji Xtra 400, which I just can’t get along with. I have tried both over and underexposing it, but still everything seems to come out way too contrasty and saturated for my taste. So I was bit sceptical about it, but decided to give it a try.
Additionally I got a 6 stop ND filter, hoping to get some long exposures of the waterfalls and such. Although they did not have one that fits 49mm thread which most Olympus OM lenses seem to come in, they were quick to find me a slightly larger one and an adapter that fit perfectly. Definitely recommend the store for people having issues with their camera gear during the Iceland trip.
We also grabbed some quick breakfast and headed off to seek for more sites to photograph. You’d imagine the city itself would be a site to photograph, and you would be totally right. Unfortunately you would also have to imagine that I did not forget the camera in the car while we were there. Because I did.
Goðafoss was another waterfall we came across. Although it literally translates as The Waterfall Of Gods, I failed to see the godliness in it, and I didn’t get many interesting pictures from there. But hey, I tried. And yes. The water is actually that green, it is not a result of the film being weird or me mis-editing it.
Next we headed towards Húsavík. The place is mostly known among tourists for two things: whale watching and an amazing fish-and-chips place down the docks. I did not order any of the latter, which I am seriously regretting as those things smelled amazing. But I did go check out the whales.
When entering the town at the port area, there are several whale watching companies there. Unfortunately most of them were already booked several hours ahead, but one of them just had couple of people not arriving for their tour so we got on a boat almost immediately.
The tour involved both “puffin watching” and whale watching and cost us a whopping 180 euros per person. So yeah, if you want to see whales, prepare your wallet.
One of the more interesting aspects of the tour was that we were not taking a slow fishing boat but instead pretty fast speedboat. To say I was worried about my camera getting wet would be understatement. I was very worried, something that I haven’t felt much before as my other cameras are all weather sealed. The organizers offered some bio-degradable plastic bags for protecting personal belongings from water, so I took one and wrapped it around my camera just in case to avoid any of the spray damaging my precious.
If that was not my only problem, I was just at the end of the roll of film but still had some shots left. Didn’t want to let them to go to waste, but at the same time I was not really excited about changing film in a speedboat.
We were given some warm and mostly waterproof suits that should theoretically float if one would decide to go overboard for closer encounter with the whales. I climbed into the suit, put a fresh roll of film in the pocket and went to the sea.
To be honest, sea was the reason why I came on this tour. Since early childhood I have loved sea for some reason and being able to ride around on the northern seas with a speedboat was more exciting to me than the whales.
Our first destination was the Puffin Island. Small island like formation in the sea that houses about one bazillion puffin nests. The little guys were flying around in massive groups as well as floating on water and going for dives for fish.
Unfortunately I did not have anything longer than 85mm lens, so all of them were slightly too far away to get any good pictures.
If you zoom into those images above, you will be able to see that all those thousands black or white dots are actually puffins.
After we had finished messing around with the Puffins, we went to see if there are any whales around. And there was plenty.
The one on pictures is a humpback whale. There was many of them swimming around the bay. Supposedly there are few more types of whales around but unfortunately we didn’t see any others.
What we did see though, was heavy rain closing in.
We kept watching the wales for a while but it soon started raining. Fortunately I was wearing a waterproof suit so it was not that much of a concern for me, but it was concern for my camera. I wrapped it again in a plastic bag hoping nothing happens to it.
Eventually we started the ride back towards the shore. Heavy rain and cold winds were whipping my face as we approached the docks. I looked down on my camera, the plastic bag was letting in quite a lot of water. I was worried, but I was still happy I came, as the experience was powerful.
We arrived back at the dock, went to the car. I unwrapped my camera. It was definitely somewhat wet. I wiped the water off with some tissue paper. The camera seemed fine. Later I read that Olympus OM-4Ti still does have some basic weather sealing applied. Nothing comparable to modern cameras, but looks like it won’t die on me because of a little rain.
Now there is a saying about icelandic weather: If you don’t like the weather right now, wait for five minutes. It is true most of the time. The previous days we had spent on the island this was exactly what we experienced — both sun and rain and wind and calm, switching like slides in buzzfeed. But when it actually rains in Iceland — It rains. And that day we almost didn’t see anything but heavy rain at all.
We tried going to some other locations, but there was just no taking pictures while tons of cold water is pouring down. Everybody was down a bit as there was many more interesting sites to see, but it was just not possible to enjoy them.
To bring up the mood a bit I looked for some interesting accommodation opportunities. Someone was renting out small huts with heating, shower, fridge, beds and sitting area. It looked exactly like something that we needed, so we headed towards that.
The hut was perfect, it had everything we needed. We spent the evening there: had a dinner, chatted and watched some TV until we went to sleep. It was nice to sleep in an actual bed once again. Specially after day like this.
Not to end the article on such gloomy tones, I am gonna leave you with one of the pictures I took early in the next morning.
How I got this picture and many other amazing ones like this, is another story for another time… Which you can totally read in the Fifth Chapter of the this Epic Adventure.