Iceland

Iceland is a country I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time, as I guess any country. I love to travel and if I could I would explore every nation of this beautiful globe. But there’s something about the harsher elements be it snow or desert that appeals to me when it come to photography. So living in the UK, Iceland is not too far away and a stunning location for landscape photographers. 

Iceland has everything from Glaciers, mountains, iceburgs, waterfalls and volcanoes, and of course the stunning Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). To me these lights are on my top 3 buckets list things to see before I die. So for my wifes 40th birthday present, I siezed the opportunity to take her on a romantic three day Northern Lights experience to Iceland last January. Of course I had to take my camera! (My main purpose was to bless my wife it must be said, the photography was a sideline and only if I got the chance would I take the shot).

Well the trip was a blast and with only a few daylight hours each day, we cramed as much in as possible. Despite the weather being perfect, the elusive lights did not make an appearance for us.

These two shots were taken on our first day in Iceland at Gullfoss waterfall. We arrived at the perfect time of the day, when the crowds were begining to dwindle and the sun was setting. This place was magical and the photographs do not do justice to the sheer size of these falls, or the mighty sound of cascading water. The first shot was taken with a tripod with my 20mm prime lens, I wanted to capture some movement in the water but not too much so I was happy with my camera automatically setting my shutter speed at Both 1/60 of a sec with ISO 100 and aperture of f11. I set my aperture at this setting to help keep full sharpness. My second shot was taken with very long shutter speed to create mystery in the water. I used a 10 stop neutral density filter (my lovely Lee Big Stopper) which enabled me to obtain a shutter speed of 53 seconds whilst keeping ISO to 100 and f11. Of course I needed my tripod, by the time I had taken several shots, my fingers felt like frozen sausages.

This is one of my favourite pictures I’ve taken. Maybe it’s because of the personal experience of taking it and the sheer desolation the image portrays. We were trying to take a short cut and found ourselves driving accross a desolate volcanic ash plain on this straight narrow road. The wind was extreme and throwing all kinds of debry against the side of the car. But all I could see was the stunning view. I took a great risk getting out as it was very difficult to stand up, let alone the potential damage to my camera. Items of clothing flew out of the boot door as I openned it to reach for my camera. Before this shot was taken, I was running down the road trying to recover them, much to my families amusement. So by the time I had recovered the escaped items I was already feeling the effects of the conditions. I had liturally a one chance only to take a stand and take the shot! I chose an ISO of 620 to enable me to get a sharp shot hand held as I knew the wind was too strong for a tripod and there was no way I was going to stand there setting it up in that temperature. So with an aperture pre set to f10, I could see the shutter speed was 1/60, this was enough to hand hold my camera with a 20mm lens. 

This is a selection of shots stitched together in Photoshop to create a panorama. Taken on the north west coast of Iceland in a small town called Reyðarfjörður, it’s famous for it’s Harry Potter hat shaped mountain and the location for the Sky TV drama Fortitude which was filmed here!

Using a tripod, I shot this at ISO 250 at f11 for 1/6 sec.

I will one day return to Iceland, specificaly to take photographs of the stunning scenery. I hope that one day my bucket list dream of photographing the Northern Lights will be a reality.

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