Maciej Kalkosinski on Photographing Iceland’s Landscapes in Black and White

Editor’s Note: this is a guest blog post from Maciej Kalkosinski.

If you ever got into landscape photography, you know that there are places that act as a magnet for shooters. I always felt that uncontrollable force gravitating me towards vast empty spaces. That was the reason I moved from central Europe to Scandinavia, and that was the reason I always wanted to visit Iceland. Making my dream come true was not that easy though.

The first and biggest problem when it comes to travel is always the money. Being a tiny and remote country relying on imported goods, Iceland pushes word “expensive” to just another level. During high season in summer, even a simple bed and breakfast night can cost same as a three star hotel on the continent. Car rentals and plane tickets prices also soar high. After doing some research I decided to plan my trip in late winter – at the beginning of March. It turned out to be a good compromise between prices and amount of light that you get to take pictures. If you never experienced polar day, traveling in summer might be tempting. Winter on the other hand is the time of polar lights. In spring and autumn, it’s a bit of a mixed weather, but there are also chances for northern lights, plus you may encounter beautiful and very long sunrises and sunsets.

Lesser amount of tourists is also an advantage if you want to try photographing some of the island’s landmarks. And believe me, you’d want to – there is absolutely a good reason why they are so popular! Of course, there are hundreds of lesser known places, but you still want to visit what is called the “Golden Circle.”

I didn’t plan a long trip for a first time, so my main focus were on the most popular places and their surroundings. So here we come to the second problem in photographing in famous places – how do you take photos that stand out?

It’s not the Eiffel Tower, but still, almost everyone can see breathtaking photos captured on Iceland (the list of mainstream movies shot in the island is also impressive – from Star Wars to Interstellar and Batman – just check here). Since the beginning, my idea was to try taking black and white pictures, especially since I expected some snow that will nicely contrast with grey rocks. How it turned out, you must judge for yourself.

When it comes to gear, I ditched a full frame Canon EOS 6D for a half frame, micro 4/3 Olympus OMD-EM1 some time ago, and never regretted that decision. Smaller size is a blessing when you travel a lot. Absolutely amazing image stabilization combined with high DoF on lower apertures make it perfect for shooting in shade or bad weather. The water and freeze proofing of EM1 is also a great advantage. Whatever gear you are using – just remember to take few extra batteries and everything will be alright.