Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

By Lubomir Drapal

Cold mornings. Sunrises. Night Sky. Mountains. Nature. Tired legs. Analog photos. Old cameras. B&W films. The smell of a freshly developed photos. Slide films… This is how I would characterise myself and my photographic work.

My name is Ľubomír Drápal, I´m from Slovakia and I focus mainly on analog photography. Why analog? My fascination with analog photography began as a child, when my father projected old slides on a projector, developed photos from holidays and short trips in the bathroom and then filled a free photo album with them.

Vestrahorn. Ilford HP5

Taking pictures on film is always a lottery. Even while you are taking photos, you have to think more about the result, concentrate, look for the right angle and choose the right POV. It’s not about clicking one shot after another with the idea that “something” will work, or to “finish it later in post”. Compared to digital photography, analog is more about patience, waiting, a heavy backpack and an uncertain outcome.

Diamond Beach. Ilford HP5

In analog photography, you don’t enjoy the result right away; you have to wait for it to work out. When you trudge uphill carrying a 6-pound medium format camera and many heavy lenses instead of a half-pound mirrorless, you might curse – or maybe even regret your choices. But I think the tension of developing films, and the ensuing euphoria when you find that the shot came out, or maybe even better than you imagined, is worth every hard step.

I am fascinated by the rawness of analog photography, its authenticity, and the fact that it captures a given place or a person, as it really is at the moment, and not as I adjust it through a filter. It can tell a rough or a gentle story. It deepens every moment, whether the subject is a landscape or a portrait of a person. In this, analog is unique, and to me, incomparable with digital.

Analog photography lets me capture a moment in a photo, it lets me tell a unique story without any further words. That’s why it’s always my choice for traveling. One such opportunity was on my recent trips to Iceland, when I tried to capture the natural beauty of the Icelandic countryside on Kodak TriX 400, Ilford HP5 and Bergger Pancro film.

Strandakirkja. Kodak Trix 400

I visited Iceland twice in 2018 and 2019. During these two visits, my sister and I crossed the entire Ring Road and with many walks and detours, we drove over 6,000 km (though due to the weather we missed the western fjords). We visited the most famous places such as Seljalandsfoss, Gljúfrabúi and Skógafoss waterfall, glacial bays including the most popular Jökulsárlón, Diamond beach, the black beach at Vík, the iconic Vestrahorn, Kirkjufell and much more.

The trips were focused more on adventure rather than photography. My photos were taken during the trip, making the best of any opportunities which arose. There were very few places where we spent multiple days, where I had the luxury to try and catch the right light. A lot of shots are taken handheld, without the use of a tripod, which was also the reason why I used films with ISO 400 sensitivity. I also use ISO 400 films when shooting with a tripod, but for situations where I can’t use one, faster films give me more flexibility. In addition, I like the natural grain in the photos.

My first aurora borealis shoot on film 🙂 Kodak TriX 400

On my first visit to Iceland, I photographed on Kodak TriX, but when I got home, I had an unpleasant surprise due to the problems Kodak had with some series of films. The negative was imprinted with the numbers from the backing paper and the Kodak inscription, which unfortunately prevents me from printing the photos in a darkroom; the only way is to scan and print. That’s why on the second trip I used films from Ilford and Bergger, which I was absolutely satisfied with.

Gullfoss waterfall. Ilford HP5
Strokkur. Ilford HP5
Kerlingarfjöll. Ilford HP5
Jökulsárlón. Ilford HP5
Eldhraun. Kodak Trix400
Fjaðrárgljúfur. Ilford HP5
Vestrahorn. Ilford HP5
Diamond beach. Ilford HP5
Snæfellsnes. Ilford HP5

The Mamiya RB67 is not a travel camera. It is designed to work in the studio, but I really like working with it and I will definitely continue to use it for photography, whether on my travels or when photographing in the Slovak mountains, where I have several series.

If you’re interested, you can also follow me on Instagram.

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Comments

Steven G on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 03/05/2022

I second most of the comments here - really terrific images. I realize I'm a little late to read the article, but wanted to add my appreciation. My initial favorite is the Gullfoss waterfall... I looked at it for a long time. I'm not quite articulate enough be able to say why though. Thanks!
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Guy on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 03/12/2021

These are seriously excellent photographs! Whatever the medium you use, like many commentators, I suspect that the fact that they are shot on analogue is much less relevant than your eye and skill in composition. I really enjoyed them and I have returned a number of times to look at them again - not something that I do very often! Thanks.
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 03/12/2021

thank you so much...

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Nikarlo on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 01/12/2021

Wow! Very lovely project and a good courage for bringing 6 pound of gear in the nature. How many and which lenses do you bring with you?
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 01/12/2021

Thank you very much... Sekor 50 and Sekor 127. Now a I have also the Sekor 250, so I believe that I will try it on Iceland again...:)

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Lee on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 30/11/2021

These are some truly gorgeous images. I particularly like the shots where you positioned the camera very low to the ground. And your Aurora image is lovely too. I spent a few days in Iceland back in 2016, before I became truly enmeshed with photography and before I began shooting film. I did manage to capture some nice images, but I was using a Nikon D3100 digital camera set to Program Mode, albeit with a rather decent 16-85mm zoom lens. Today, every time I look through those images of Iceland I can't help but judge them all as missed opportunities due to my lack of photographic expertise and knowledge at the time. You have managed to capture the majesty of Iceland, both on a large scale and small scale with your images. I am envious and very much want to return to that lovely country and try again. Like you, I think I would ultimately shoot mostly black and white too. Very nice work!
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 30/11/2021

Thank you very much. I would also do a lot of things differently now and take more pictures ... :) But at least I have a reason to go back...:)

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Matthew Wright on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 29/11/2021

Finally. Iceland photos that done look like every other Iceland photo. Great job here. No idea why you would carry that with you but we are glad you did.
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 29/11/2021

thank you...

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Alan on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 29/11/2021

Absolutely stunning images here!
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 29/11/2021

thank you...

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FILIP on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

This is great!
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

Thank you...

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Daniel Castelli on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

Dear Ľubomír, The RB-67 is a beast! You have my admiration for hauling that camera and its ancillary equipment over rough terrain. Your effort paid off with a nice set of photographs showing the rawness of sky, water and earth. I hope you & your sister found a warm cafe and thawed your bones with a hot beverage.
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

Thank you, yes it is...:) I wear it in much higher mountains than in Iceland...:) Maybe in the future I will write a few words about the Slovak mountains...

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Stewart Waller on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

Lovely work.
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

thanks a lot...

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Jamie W on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

Inspiring work, congrats and thanks for sharing!
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

thank you...

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Simon Atkins on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

Absolutely beautiful, the grain really adds something special to these images.
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

Thank you, I really like the film grain....)

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Gil Aegerter on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

Some wonderful images there, but especially the building beyond the snow banks.
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

thank you...

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Gary on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

Ps. Lots more work, though!
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Gary on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

Great images, and so different from what one usually sees of Iceland with color digital capture. Bravo.
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

thank you...

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Scott Gitlin on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

Beautiful series of captures.
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

thank you...

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Clive Shepherd on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

B&W and medium format perspective are the best! Your photos show off the potential beautifully! Great work!
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 28/11/2021

thanks...

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David Hume on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

Hey Ľubomír - great photos; really nice. I just wanted to say though, that I think it's a shame you are giving so much credit to the fact that it's film. I think the photos are good because of your eye, skill, and patience. Like you, I feel I cannot get photos (landscape) that are as good on digital as I can on film. But I have an idea that this is not because of film or digital - it is because of me. Think of your statement: "Taking pictures on film is always a lottery. Even while you are taking photos, you have to think more about the result, concentrate, look for the right angle and choose the right POV. It’s not about clicking one shot after another with the idea that “something” will work, or to “finish it later in post”. Compared to digital photography, analog is more about patience, waiting, a heavy backpack and an uncertain outcome." I would write it thus: Taking pictures is never certain. While you are taking photos, you have to think about the result, concentrate, look for the right angle and choose the right POV. It’s not about clicking one shot after another with the idea that “something” will work, or to “finish it later in post”. Compared to sloppy, poor photography, good photography is more about patience, waiting, and an uncertain outcome." I am making a concerted effort to make my digital photos as good as my film photos; to do this I need better skills. It's true that film and digital are different and that film grain is very different from digital noise. Digital sensors respond to light differently from film, and so you need to use them differently. It is entirely possible to carry a digital camera up a hill and make only one frame, or no frames if the light is not perfect. It takes guts to not make a frame. It is something I am working on. If you want to put an extra five kilos in your pack - sure do it! Or you could say an RB is way lighter than an 8x10 camera and use the same argument that your shots would be better if you used an 8x10. I don't think they would; I think we all have the technique that suits us and It could be that digital does not suit you. (There are some shots you cannot take with an 8x10 that you can take with an RB - just as there are some shots you cannot take with an RB that you could take with an iPhone) But but I think we become better photographers by challenging our assumptions and trying to push ourselves out of comfort zones - so I'd say in closing that I give credit for these photos to you, not the RB or the film stock.
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

Hi David, thank you very much for taking the time to make an extensive comment and kind words. Yes, I completely agree with you. It´s not about the camera it´s about me... I meant that if I have digital with me, I will do more shots, different compositions, different settings. After taking pictures, I can check if I don't like something, I can change something ... The film taught me to slow down, but maybe I changed myself ... :) When I took pictures with digital cameras, I had the photos on a PC right away, I immediately took them edited ... Now the exposed rolls have been lying in my fridge for a few months ...:) Of course, I can take pictures on digital in the same way, but I haven't learned it yet ... :) It still pulls me to take more pictures ...: ) At the moment, I only walk in the mountains with my RB67, digital stays at home and I only take pictures of weddings ... ... and the bonus is the surprise I actually took ... :)))

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Charlie Bierwirth on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

Love these shots. Especially Fjaðrárgljúfur. Thank you for sharing!
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

thank you...

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Graham Spinks on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

Fantastic images! Great combination of film, camera and photographer.
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

thank you...

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Pete on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

What a terrific set. These are far better than I achieved in the same locations on digital, and it’s lovely to see images of Iceland that are different from the usual. Thanks for sharing.
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

thanks a lot...

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Charles Higham on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

Really good post Ľubomír, and top photos.
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

thank you Charles...

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Bill Brown on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

Lubomir, What a beautiful series of images. Your use of scale, tone and perspective shows that you have a wonderful eye. The canyon image with the slight lens flare and individuals in the distance is so evocative. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to seeing more of your travels. I'm headed to your Instagram page as soon as I submit this.
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

thank you som much...:)

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andy on Iceland on Mamiya RB67 – by Ľubomír Drápal

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

Fanstastic shots, thank you for sharing with us all....
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Lubomir Drapal replied:

Comment posted: 27/11/2021

thank you...:)

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