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Great Landscapes

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If there’s one location in the world that really deserves a medium format camera, it has to be Iceland. The volcanic island is incredibly weathered and textured, from the abrasive lava flows to the fine green grass growing out of black volcanic soil.

Set your lens to f11 (or whatever your optimum aperture is), ensure the camera is rock solid (so no camera shake), and then check your focus: the resulting quality of detail found in a medium format file is a wonder to behold!

While I love shooting with medium format, you do have to think a little differently. For instance, I don't own zoom lenses for medium format (they exist, but they are relatively short in range and rather large to carry around). Instead, I have a small collection of lenses: 23mm, 55mm, 80mm (equivalent to a 50mm on a DSLR), 110mm and 240mm. It's a useful range, but I find myself using my feet a lot more as I move myself into position.

Of course, sometimes you can't change your position easily. Take the little village behind Hellnar in Iceland shown here. I love this location because, to my eyes, the buildings are so simple and neat, plus the black woodwork contrasts strongly against the vibrant green grass. And then there's the little church in the background - who doesn't love photographing the churches spotted all around Iceland! It reminds me a little of a Jeffrey Smart composition (an Australian contemporary painter).

The challenge for me was the 110mm lens I was using was a little long for the framing I had in mind (and that you can see above). The only other lens I had with me was 55mm, and that was too wide. (The 80mm would have been perfect, but sometimes I don't travel with my 80mm because I find I rarely use it when I have the 55mm or 110mm to choose from. Silly me!).

I wanted to fit in just a little more than I could, but if I walked backwards, the terrain meant I lost my view, so what was the solution?

Stitch! Stitching isn't just for panoramas. I simply worked out my left and right sides of the photo and took three frames and opened them up in Photoshop to quickly stitch together. In terms of post-production, it's nothing more than a little darkening of the sky and foreground, and setting the exposure to reveal the rich colours.

And it's a medium format frame, the original measuring 14,000 pixels across, so plenty of information to make a nice big print!

If you're interested in exploring Iceland, I am running a photo tour there at the end of October/early November 2019 with Better Moments (a photo tour company based in Denmark, but not related to Better Photography!) It's also being hosted as a Phase One tour, meaning if you come along, you can use a Phase One medium format outfit for the duration of the photo tour and I'll be there to help you use it. Of course, it's not compulsory to use a Phase One camera - everyone and all camera brands are welcome!

For details, check out the website or click here.

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