Film Landscape Photography
…in Fuerteventura, Canary Isles.
I just returned from a short vacation to Fuerteventura in the Canary Isles where I met family who were out there on holiday. It was my first visit to this island but I have been to the neighboring island Tenerife a couple of times. The weather in this part of the world is a real treat when visiting from the UK during the winter as the average temperature in the Canaries is normally in the mid 20s. (degrees Celsius).
Landscape Photography Camera Bag
- Hasselblad SWC/M camera + finder
- Hasselblad SWC focus screen + WLF
- Hasselblad A12 6×6 film back
- Hasselblad A16 645 film back
- Leica M4-P camera body (film)
- Leica M240 camera body (digital)
- Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 lens
- Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
Before the trip I had bought the Hasselblad SWC/M wide-angle camera with the Zeiss Biogon 38mm f4.5 lens (equivalent to 21mm on a full frame 35mm camera). The SWC/M camera is well suited to landscape photography but I bought it mainly for people photography, weddings, fashion photography and environmental portraits. That said after the purchase the camera I found myself watching 10hrs+ of YouTube landscape photography videos (while eating my evening meals each day). I’ve never studied landscape photography so found certain aspects of the videos both interesting and inspiring.
Hasselblad SWC/M Landscape Photography
After being inspired by the landscape photography videos I decided to pack my Hasselblad SWC/M to take to Fuerteventura together with a tripod and cable release. Being a family holiday I didn’t have as much flexibility to go and take photos at any time of the day compared to when I travel alone but I did go out early one morning before sunrise to take pictures. I soon realized I really needed to car to get to any of the wow scenes up in the mountains so instead settled for a few simple long exposure shots to blur the sea/ water in my images. It was a surprisingly slow process to me and I only took four images within the hour I was out. There was no sunrise to speak of and the 21mm field of view was often too wide for the scenes I was trying to compose and capture. My first landscape photography experience (with all the gear) was OK but it didn’t blow me away with excitement.
Even though my first Ironman triathlon is complete I continue to enjoy training whenever I can and I plan to enter more triathlon events in 2018. My brother and I hired road bikes for three days I was there and we did a ride at first light followed by a run along the coast before breakfast. The next morning we did a 50 mile ride up into the mountains. The sun was already up and the landscape looked breathtaking in the low directional light. I really love the barren landscape in Fuerteventura with the red-yellow sandy ground contrasting nicely against the blue sky, the often derelict buildings littering the hillsides and the various cactus plants providing an assortment of shapes. Trying to take landscape photos in a ‘Brits abroad’ holiday resort yesterday wasn’t really working for me despite it being one of the nicer resorts. Getting out into non tourist parts of Fuerteventura and up into the mountains was much more my thing. I wish I had a camera with me on the bike ride but we only stopped once for a quick selfie at the top so I wouldn’t have had chance to use a camera anyway. It did however get me thinking.
Leica Landscape Photography
On my last morning in Fuerteventura my new plan was to cycle back into the mountains alone to take landscape photos. Sadly the weather had other ideas and I woke to cloud cover and an unlit landscape. I decided to have an extra hour in bed and then run along the coastline instead to give the sun time to burn through the clouds. Sure enough by 10am we had hazy sunshine so after the run and quick breakfast I grabbed my bike and headed off towards the mountains. The original idea was to take both the Hasselblad SWC and a Leica camera and shoot them both handheld in the bright light. Unfortunately both cameras would not fit in the back of my running hydrating vest main pocket. I therefore packed light and took my Leica M4-P film camera with Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 lens, a Sekonic light meter and a spare roll of film. I think I would have chosen a slightly wider lens (15mm, 21mm or 25mm) but 28mm was the widest I had with me. One advantage of the Elmarit-M 28/2.8 is it is nice and compact compared to my 21mm and 25mm Zeiss Biogon lenses. Another benefit of using a 28mm lens is the M4-P has 28mm framelines in the viewfinder to aid composition.
I had 35mm Fujicolor C200 already loaded in the Leica M4-P and took another roll of C200 with me. Some of the images I was taking suited black and white film but I will convert the colour film to monochrome in post processing. Cycling along the open roads in the sunshine was amazing in itself but then being able to stop at any scene that caught my eye was fantastic. Often when traveling by car it is not possible to stop when I see a photo to capture but on a bike I could stop anywhere even on a busy road and just pull in to get my shot. I cycled 10 miles out stopping along the way taking photos both in front of me with sunshine over my shoulder and also back at the sun in the opposite direction. I wish I had brought a small circular polarizer filter for the Leica to cut through some of the haze but it was a nice practice session regardless.
I was out for 2.5 hours, covered 20 miles or so and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. This may well become my new favorite pastime combining training, exploring and photography and without the restriction of always being reliant on a model for my photography. Model photography is amazing when I have models but can be almost depressing when I have a beautiful location and then no one to photograph. This new past time of cycling and landscape photography means I can visit any country without the limitation of needing to consider if I can find models on my arrival.
Possible camera gear for my next Leica landscape photography (on bike)
I would take a Leica M4-P film camera again due to the 28mm framelines for composition. I might look to take the Zeiss ZM Biogon 25mm f2.8 lens and use the full viewfinder area to approximate my field of view. As mentioned I will also consider the 21mm ZM Biogon and the Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5 lens. One observation I didn’t mention above is for some scenes I wanted to compress a scene or take a crop of the landscape and the 28mm lens was too wide. I like the idea of carrying two lenses, one wide lens and a short telephoto lens. Because I need to pack small and light I think both my Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens and Summicron 90mm f2 lens will be too large and heavy. My plan is therefore to try taking a compact 50mm lens instead, the Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens.
My landscape photography research suggested that the best lenses to use for landscapes are often wider than the normal 50mm field of view humans see or longer telephoto lenses. That said I love a 50mm focal length for much of my photography so I will see if I can get it to work for me. The other thing I must pack for my next adventure is a circular polarizing filter and some colour filters for black and white photography. Red and yellow filters will both darken a blue sky and lighten a yellow building or dust track road. Lastly I want to pack better suited film stocks. For black and white film I will try 35mm Fuji Neopan Acros 100 speed film for crisp B&W tones and perhaps Ilford Delta 100 for super high-resolution. For colour negative film I think I would choose Kodak Ektar 100 for saturated colours and fine grain but if I really wanted to invest in the art I would shoot the expensive 35mm Fuji Provia 100 E6 slide film for its superior colours and resolution. Fuji Velvia 100 film is often preferred by landscape photographers due to the super saturated colours but I already have 35mm Provia in my fridge so will try this first. Lastly I would be sure to take my Sekonic light meter as weather and light levels can change especially if cycling up mountains. I would take the Sekonic L-308s light meter rather than the Sekonic L-758 light meter as it is smaller and light. If and when I get really keen at landscape photography I will swap to the Sekonicl-758 spot meter for zone metering.
Taking the Hasselblad SWC exploring
I have certainly not ruled out the Hasselblad SWC for future adventures and I think once I take it on one trip and see the images it would probably come with me on all future landscape trips. The Hassy SWC is a compact camera even if it is heavier than my Leica with lens attached. If I pack the SWC with finder, a few filters and a light meter I should be able to find one of my running rucksacks that will accommodate it’s size.
Bad weather landscape photography
Many of the best landscape photography photos are taken in less than perfect weather conditions, often mist, fog, rain, snow and varying degrees of low light-darkness. As such a tripod is usually a must have. That said, I want to enjoy my cycling as much as the photography and I like being out in the sunshine. If I am only doing fine weather photography at f8-f22 with a shutter speed of 1/60-1/500 I will choose to travel light and without a tripod. A full height tripod is out the question for my current lightweight cycling setup. If I find I enjoy landscape photography enough to do it without including the cycling aspect then I can look to drive to locations in the early hours in potentially bad weather and then take a tripod with me (and as much camera gear as I want in a normal camera rucksack. If I find myself sticking to landscape photography (and by bike) but decide to do some early morning first light shots I may look to get one of the table top Manfrotto tripods like the Manfrotto PIXI EVO 2 tripod for a ligghtweight option.
My next cycling-photography adventure
After three days in the sunshine I am already set to book a follow-up trip cycling holiday / photography adventure to see if I can hone my camera skills and keep fit in the process. I will certainly visit the Canary Isles again for this type of holiday as I love both the landscape and the climate.
Some of my past attempts at landscape photography!
(Approximate order newest to oldest using a variety of cameras)