Lumix in the Faroe Islands
Rugged coastline, relentlessly pounded by harsh waves. Epic winds. Driving rain. Snow and hail. A landscape straight out of the annals of Viking history. Now, place this landscape on 18 rocky, volcanic islands in the North Atlantic, between Norway and Iceland, and pepper it with small villages inhabited by some of the nicest people on Earth, and you have a pretty good description of the Faroe Islands.
I have visited the Faroes a few times now. It has become a place that is constantly in my thoughts, a destination that seems magical now. As an artist, the islands inspire me even when I am not there. Each time I go I find the landscape different. The light is fleeting, and you have to work very hard for your images. I find that my best images come when I am patient, when I accept that there is a cost I must pay, a penance perhaps, some suffering that needs to happen before I am shown the light.
The Faroe Islands are best experienced when you allow yourself to be immersed in whatever situations you may find yourself in. Like most things in life, things work better when you go with the flow. For this trip, I found myself once again starting out in the capital of Torshavn, which sits on the island of Streymoy. Like most of the islands in the archipelago, it is connected to the others via a network of under sea tunnels. There are a few exceptions, generally in the south, where ferries and even helicopters are needed. The costs of using these other means of transport are subsidized by the government, making them very affordable to everyone. Each day, I would find myself on a different island gearing up for a long hike or climb in the high wind and rain.
When it is this wet all the time, protecting gear becomes a priority. For this trip, I had a Lumix G9 body and associated Lumix lenses with me, and from the start I knew that the weather sealed capabilities of the camera were going to be a welcome asset. In the Faroes, it is nearly impossible to stand around with your gear in your bag, waiting “until the light is good”. When the weather is bad, you’ll be scrambling over rocks, scaling cliff faces, working on composition, and then waiting until something great happens. It usually does, but it may take a long time, and once it is there you need to work quickly because it will absolutely vanish in as little as a few seconds. Being able to put the G9 on a tripod, stack some filters on it, and then not really have to worry if the gear gets hammered by rain for an hour was a blessing. Sure, I still took precautions since water on filters is not really something you want, but I wasn’t nearly as worried as with other bodies.
Because the G9 is still quite new, my RAW image conversion was done in Lightroom, rather than my usual choice of Capture One Pro. This was the same scenario as when I went to Nepal with the GH5 a year ago. I fully expect Capture One Pro to add support for the G9 in the next point release. On the fly editing was done using the Panasonic Image App for Android; I would simply transfer the RAW images to my phone and make quick edits using the mobile Lightroom app. This worked fine for quick social media posts and serious editing was done later at night on a proper laptop. Definitely a solution I can live with, given that it makes the workflow very portable.
Speaking of portability, I have to say how much I love the fact that the battery charger for the G9 uses a USB connection. This means that my Goal Zero nomad, a solar panel charger with a USB power source, can portably charge batteries out in the field without me needing to bring the heavier side inverter. More camera companies need to make USB chargers for their batteries.
To be completely honest, I don’t have any complaints about the camera. Mirrorless technology is here to stay, and Panasonic has advanced the micro four thirds format to a point where I really don’t miss full frame DSLR. The G9 is a camera that does everything I need a camera to do exceptionally well. The image quality is excellent, the battery life is great, and the Depth From Defocus autofocus system works incredibly well. I do not have time to fuss over my tools. They need to work when I need them to work, and I think that in this case I had tools in my camera bag that let me focus on what was important – creating great images.
Thanks to Panasonic for creating such a great camera. I am looking forward to using it again, perhaps in the Faroe Islands once more. I am already planning my return. If anyone wants to join me, please reach out.