Music drew me to Iceland. Specifically, our local radio station KEXP and the Iceland Airwaves Festival in Reykjavik. For most of my adult life, I’d heard about this festival on KEXP, but it was only after my divorce and having more free time that it became a possibility of actually going.
I called up my two best friends, Ryan and Bryan, and we headed to Iceland for 3 days of music and 2 days of exploring the wild nature north of the city of Reykjavik.
Some of my favorite bands were discovered at Iceland Airwaves, and I couldn’t think of a better adventure than seeing, bands with my best friends and then topping it off with hiking the Western fjords of Iceland.
I prefer to shoot film for everything at this point in my life. Film is the reason I had to create Mastin Labs — so I could bridge the gap between my film work and my digital work for clients. But since leaving wedding photography in 2015, I’ve had the luxury of shooting film for nearly everything.
For my trip to Iceland, I purposefully chose a hybrid approach: shooting film for some subjects with my Mamiya 7, and my digital Ricoh GR II and the Filmborn App for iPhone for other subjects. I wanted the best tool for each situation and I’m going to explain my thinking behind why I used each camera when I did.
Ricoh GR II: Concert Photography
The Ricoh GR II is not a new digital camera. In fact, it’s pretty old. It’s famous for being a discreet street photography camera, but I love it for it’s small size and the quality of the raw files at high ISO.
My strategy for each show was to get there early enough to be in the SECOND row of the audience. This way I would have the back of the audience’s heads as an additional layer for my compositions. Being in the very front row without that layer always felt a bit sterile to me. Like I’m leaving out the context and energy of the event itself.
I set my camera to 1/125th second and f2.8 and let the camera decide ISO. Then I wait for what feels like a meaningful moment in the set and do my best to create a composition around it:
Mamiya 7: Carefully Composed Landscapes in Daylight
Next, let’s examine the famous Mamiya 7. It’s a super lightweight camera for shooting such a humongous 6X7 negative and is the preferred medium format camera of many fine art and landscape photographers for good reason.
This camera is easy to carry, easy to focus (rangefinder focusing), and small in size, really no larger than a regular DSLR.
Did I mention that the Mamiya 80mm f4 lens is one of the best lenses I have ever used in terms of sharpness and color? It’s a winner of a camera in every respect.
Except for what it can’t do well. Like super low light (because it used film), and action (because it has a rangefinder.) Hence, I used three different cameras for this trip according to their weaknesses and strengths.
I dreamed of what my negatives would look like from this trip, and I was so happy to see what Portra 800 pushed two stops looked like once scanned:
iPhone: Spontaneous Photography
My iPhone with the Filmborn App was the perfect way to capture all the spontaneous moments between shows without slowing the entire group down.
It was nice to be able to use Filmborn to post both Ricoh GR and iPhone pics to my Instagram while traveling, as it would be a few weeks before I would see any film I shot on the trip.
What’s even cooler, is that with Filmborn I was able to make a cohesive set of images between my digital images and my film images. Check this out: