Iceland Trip Report
Visiting Iceland has been a life-long dream for me, and I agonized over camera and film choices while trip planning.
Large Format: Yes, there are places in Iceland that more than merit it. But the Linhof stayed home, and that turned out to be a good choice. It would have been harder to fly with a 13x18cm camera, film and accessories, and I would have needed a larger rental car. More importantly, there was too much wind most days to allow practical use. Bellows vibration and darkslide handling would have been problematic and using a dark-cloth would have been impossible.
In the end I took my Rolleiflex 6008AF and lenses from 40mm to 300mm. I used long lenses more than anticipated and did a lot of precision framing. An RF outfit or swing-lens panorama camera would not have worked with how I saw Iceland on this trip. No lens or camera failures, despite rough roads and bad weather.
Tripod: A nice Feisol from Kerry at Really Big Cameras. Carried in my checked luggage, used a lot, never used the spiked feet. Biggest terrain problem was tripod (and me) sinking in wet areas of tufted grass.
Film: In the end, I used ten rolls of APX25, eleven rolls of 220 Plus-X and eleven rolls of TMY-2, all in 645 format. Less than what I expected to use, less than what I brought. I chalk it up to too much driving and some foul weather.
Camera equipment I never used: flash, extension tube17.
Film Screening: Swab and sniff machine at Boston Logan, no problems. At Keflavik I was refused hand inspection and the scanner did add a few units of density to the TMY-2, and damaged the Ilford Delta 3200 film to the point where the images are not useable. I sent an e-mail to Keflavik airport and received an answer stating that you can request hand inspection, but they reserve the right scan the film if doubts remain. The fact that I not only received a prompt answer, but that it made sense only deepens my appreciation for Iceland and Icelanders. I also tend to forget that young security screeners may not have experienced film in anything other than 35mm, or possibly not at all.
Hands-down biggest equipment fail: Garmin GPS. Tiny cross pin fell out of latch post, leaving battery door loose and the unit no longer waterproof. Piss poor design and Garmin isn't standing behind their product.
Dumbest thing I brought to Iceland:a toss up between a flashlight which went unused in the twenty-four hour daylight of the arctic summer; or a pair of shorts which it was never warm enough to wear.
Astonishingly beautiful landscapes - so much so that you may find yourself on visual overload. Blowing volcanic ash was a problem one day, and there were tiny bugs at Lake Myvatn that made changing lenses or film temporarily impossible. I drove in heavy, wet snow a couple times, but that is not a novelty for me.
Nice people, and I've never felt safer traveling anywhere. The only awkward interaction was three of us from different countries in the rental car shuttle van, all of whom had been charged the cost of an entire new windshield/screen for tiny stone chips. (My chip was less than 5mm long and about 1mm deep). Given the Icelander's terrific entrepreneurial spirit and "mend it and make do" attitude, none of us believed that they don't have the capability to do resin fill repairs. The shuttle driver did his best to convince us, but no one believed him, and he dropped off some very disgruntled customers at the airport. It does seem like a scam, but if it is true, then there is a terrific business opportunity here given the preponderance of gravel roads in Iceland.
If I were to do it again: same camera and lenses, but I would probably bring only TMY2 film and a non-interchangeable magazine to reduce size and weight. Less time driving, more time in some of the spots I discovered on this trip. A better waterproof backpack to walk with. Resin kit or windscreen insurance. I'd also buy a sweater at one of the farmstands I passed in the far north.