This amazing convergence was concocted largely by Alex, a self-deprecating git from Norfolk, with help from Inge, a charming photographer from Rotterdam. The idea began as an off-handed suggestion on Twitter, growing like a baby as people signed up on the Eventbrite page. This was happening before my eyes, unfolding in tweets, with perfect timing for my attendance.
I work in civil service and I pick my vacation for the coming year every December. As luck would have it, everything - the grand scheme, the wife's support, the necessary days off - aligned like celestial orbs, portending a good trip and new friends. It felt like unstoppable destiny.
We met in Amsterdam, and, well, we had a blast. Everything was amazing - the city, the weather, the people, the food, the drink, everything! I remember it vividly, and I'd love to write more about it, but this is a love story that takes place elsewhere.
|Amsterdamp, my official entry WPPD14, P6*6, f/167, Ilford FP4, 02:00|
I had brought some film with me to Europe that I had never shot as pinhole before: Ilford black and white, and some Fuji Velvia 50 slide film. The reciprocity failure corrections for different film stocks vary widely, and I rely on the collective intelligence of the Internet for that data, in lieu of testing myself. So, shooting a new film on Pinhole Day was a bit of a gamble. In England I leaned on my old friends Acros and Ektar.
In Iceland, we rented a "three-door Jeep", a tiny Suzuki hardtop SUV, and drove a route called the "Golden Circle". We drove through the Þingvellir national park, the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur, which contains the geysers Geysir and Strokkur, and to the Gullfoss waterfall (meaning "golden falls"). I decided to try the Velvia 50.
|Gullfoss, P6*6, f/167, Velvia 50 (RVP50), 00:03|
I set up my Gorillapod and metered the scene. Even with the exposure stopped down by the filter, the shutter would only be open for a few seconds. Putting a filter in front of your pinhole requires absolute cleanliness unless you want dust to be visible in your infinite depth of field. It also prevented me from using the finger-in-front-of-the-pinhole trick to avoid disturbing the camera during shutter movement.
When I got back to the Suzuki, I had no idea if my exposure had worked. We drove off through a landscape that looked like Hawaii, eastern Washington state, and Alaska, sometimes all at once.
Back in Reykjavik, I continued to shoot the Velvia50, liking the slightly longer exposures in bright light.
|We walked to the highest point in town, upon which stands the Hallgrímskirkja. A towering concrete church, it took 41 years to build and is designed to look like columnar basalt formations. An elevator takes you to the top of the church, for sweeping views of Reykjavik and the mountains beyond.|
I visited the Sun Voyager, a harbor-side sculpture evoking a Viking longboat bent on explorations and discovery.
|Reykjavik is home to a world-famous hot dog stand. Dating back to 1937, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur has repeatedly been ranked the best place to get a hot dog in Europe and the world. The customers queuing for a wiener eyed me suspiciously as I twined my Gorillapod through a chain link fence and aimed my camera. In the fading light, I "acted natural" and pretended to talk on my phone during the lengthening exposure.|
|HARPA is a multi-purpose concert and cultural hall on the Reykjavik waterfront. A glowing glass and steel structure, it houses both the symphony and the opera.|
|Reflecting pools in front of the hall were mirror calm as the evening enfolded me.|
I returned to the apartment, disoriented and excited. I couldn't believe that it was almost midnight and I had been making pinhole photographs so late.
The next morning, on our way to the airport, we scheduled a detour to the Blue Lagoon, a hydrothermal spa, conveniently situated to extract one last payment from tourists who would sip ten-dollar beers in the silica-rich water. The landscape is otherworldly, and the pool is ringed by volcanic rock that would cut your feet to ribbons if you chose to escape overland. Those same rocks hide the geothermal plant that supplies the hot water to the spa, but beneath the low clouds it was truly surreal. Again, I reminded myself that this might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I set up my camera before catching the bus to the airport.