BEHIND THE SHOT

THE STORY BEHIND FRANK SMITH’S ICELAND PHOTO SERIES
Shot with the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO

THE BACKSTORY

I am an avid traveler and enjoy exploring many parts of the globe. I had been on a trip to Iceland several years back and had captured much of its beauty in the fall season amidst the heavy tourist season. It is a great place to photograph.

One of my key areas of interest with my photography has always been abstract - particularly textures and patterns and I also am intrigued by ice and frozen matter. In capturing local (US based) waterfalls and ice, I made the decision I wanted to go back to Iceland during a time of slower tourism with the opportunity to access the more remote areas of Iceland and capture the island in a more frozen state.

My goal was to find a travel guide with a photography focus that had access to the remote areas of Iceland. Someone who had been there to know the culture and the best times and ways to get around as well as be ready willing and able to shoot 24/7. I connected with George Thalassinos who has done many trips to Iceland and after several conversations, I booked my travel to Iceland. Travel photography for me is not about rest & relaxation - it is all about timing and opportunity to capture the imagery.

THE PLANNING:

For this photo trip I decided I wanted to focus on long exposures and to also create layers in the imagery. This would require limited interference from others and the ability to stay in one place for a long period of time. I wanted to shoot the ice caves, glaciers and falls to capture the patterns & textures. As you can see, I even found an alien among my shots.

Camera: OM-D E-M1 Mark II Lens: M.Zuiko ED 12-100mm f4.0 IS PRO ISO: 200 Focal Length: 28 mm Aperture: f/11 Shutter Speed: 1/160

What is important on a trip like this is to be intentional around the equipment that you take and also appropriately dressing for the environment. From boots to gloves to crampons, the equipment you wear and pack will make all the difference in the world. You are going to get wet and be cold - but, you will get amazing results!

Researching and inquiring about temperatures, elements and environment are critical. I was dressed appropriately, had all the proper camera gear (including spikes for my tripod) and was able to endure the temperatures and other elements to capture the imagery I wanted.

It is also super important to understand the terrain and any physical limitations that you may have. Climbing to remote areas with a bottle of water and a few energy bars was a typical day. Knowing your ability and how to prepare is key! This is one of the many reasons I love the Olympus gear because of its durability and light weight features. As you will see from the specs from my highlighted photos, I carried two primary lenses in my bag. This allowed me to capture wide angle shots with great speed, lens quality and most importantly - less weight.

THE SHOTS

As you can see from my imagery, I was fortunate enough to access so many great locations from the ice caves to the aurora borealis. Keep in mind when someone from your group says NOW is the time to shoot the lights you don't question the hour of the day (even if that means 2:00 AM in the morning) - you just grab your gear and go.

From a technical perspective when I photograph landscapes, I focus on eliminating any distractions from my shot - for example litter, debris, other elements that are not complimentary. I also look at the various colors and textures to see if there are any conflicts before I shoot.

When I shoot, my goal is identifying the primary subject matter and making sure that it is the main focus point of the shot. I am constantly aware of the layers in my image and understand that the human brain likes imagery better when there are layers. One important success in a landscape image is that it typically incorporates a strong foreground subject.

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OM-D E-M1 Mark II

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M.ZUIKO ED 12-100MM F4.0 IS PRO

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M.ZUIKO ED 7-14MM F2.8 PRO

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