This week we continue our travelogue of my recent Iceland Tour & Workshop with Tim Vollmer, and 14 amazing photographer participants as we traveled around this incredible country.
We pick up the trail today on September 25, as we headed over to Geysir (right), to photograph the geyser there, and as I mentioned at the end of the part 1 in this series, this is actually where we got the English word geyser from.
The water erupts from this geyser every 5 to 8 minutes, and when it erupts, the water can reach up to 70 meters, although the height varies each time.
I read on Wikipedia that in 1845 it was reaching its highest eruption height at 175 meters, which must have been incredible to see. Indeed, even now, this is quite a site, and I enjoy our now yearly visits to this location.
To freeze the movement of the water, I used a shutter speed of 1/640 of a second, and here, was aligned in such a way that it would enable me to capture a little bit of reflection and shadow of the geyser in the reddish foreground.
Note too that I cropped the image down to a vertical 16:9 ratio. This is mainly because there are people to either side, and the crop enabled me to remove them, but also, I think this accentuates the vertical movement of the geyser and its shadow.
After Geyser, we moved on to Gullfoss, one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland. One of the reasons I planned this tour a month later than the 2013 tour was because I anticipated less tourists, and that worked in general, but there were still good crowds here. Not as many as last year mind, so whereas last year in this shot (below) I had a crowd of people on that rock outcrop on the left, this year there were just a few.
Gullfoss are difficult falls to photograph in their entirety, without getting a nasty patch of land encroaching into the image in the bottom left corner. For this shot, I think I actually used content aware fill in Photoshop to remove a small triangle from the bottom left.
One of my favorite shots from last year’s trip though, was a shot from the end of the gorge into which all this water is dropping. If you look at where all the water is pluming up on the far left, that’s where I stood to make this next photograph (right). And as you might expect, standing directly in that spray from the falls brings it’s own challenges.
Most of the time, when the protector filter that I have on the front of my lens gets wet, I use a very strong rocket blower (Bergeon No. 5733) to blow the water droplets to the edges of the filter, and essentially out of the frame.
When you are literally standing in a shower though, this doesn’t work. I have to resort to using a lens cloth, turning the camera away from the spray, wiping it, then turning it back towards the scene, and grabbing a frame before it gets wet again. There’s so much water actually, that I always carry more than one lens cloth in Iceland, in case the first gets wet through.
I converted this image to black and white in Silver Efex Pro, and darkened down the foreground rocks, for this look that I enjoy, especially for my Iceland waterfalls. I love how we can see the spray just rising up into the sky here. There is so much power in these falls.
This by the way was a 1/5 of a second exposure. That’s about as fast as I really like to go with waterfalls, and there isn’t much of an option for going longer here. The water droplets attack the front of the lens way too quickly for any longer exposure.
Another benefit of going to Iceland a month later, and I can honestly say that I had not expected this when I arranged the tour, was that we had splashes of fall color in a number of locations, such as at Hjálparfoss (below), which is another waterfall that we visited on September 25, before heading to our hotel here in the highlands.
I actually didn’t share any of my photos of these falls from last year’s tour, because I wasn’t overly happy with them, but the splash of color in this year’s shots took them just that little bit further, so I’m keeping this in my selection. I do like the incredible texture in the rock formations either side of these falls, and I actually have a stitched panorama that really accentuates this too, which I’ll probably share or make available for prints later.
Although we had a smattering of snow while were were at Landmannalaugar last year, this year, we were presented with some beautiful snow scenes as this one (below) during our entire drive into the area on September 26. We stopped at a number of places as we drove along the bumpy trail towards the lava field, but we couldn’t resist jumping off the bus a few times to make some photos like this.
Again, of course this is a Silver Efex Pro black and white conversion. I had a number of frames to choose from, but I really liked this one because of the balance of the foreground, with the black rocks interspersed amongst the snow, the beautiful mountains, and that lovely dramatic sky. The clouds were moving incredibly fast, and the light changing literally by the second, so it was quite challenging to get something that I really liked, but I think I did that here.
To give you an idea of the lay of the land at Landmannalaugar, here’s a screenshot from the Lightroom Map module (below). We’ll look at four photos from this location, and they are all marked on this map with the little yellow and orange balloons. I circled the area where we parked our bus having just forded a couple of rivers to get into the valley, and then we walk about 1.5 to 2 km across the lava field to the other side. I love how you can see how the lava literally flowed out and filled the valley in this areal view map.
The first yellow balloon on the map represents this photo. I shot this partly to send to my friends at Gura Gear as I’m one of the Gura Gear Pros, but also, because I ended up really liking the one I did from this location last year, as although I could do with a better model, including a person in the photo like this can help us to imagine ourselves in the scene, looking out across this beautiful valley.
Another reason that I included this shot, was because the light was changing so incredibly fast, it’s one of the best lit shots that I got of this scene too. In this next image (below) you can see that the light is slightly less favorable, despite me having the group wait for about 10 minutes as the sun tried to peep through the clouds just enough for an OK shot. This is the orange balloon on the map, just below the yellow one.
We hiked along the edge of the lava shelf, where I drew the red line, up towards the top of the lava flow, close to where it came out of the volcano, and as you can see in this shot (below) there is still some activity, with steam coming out of a number of fumaroles. We’d actually walked up through that mist, and back onto the lava shelf, before I turned around to make this photograph.
The fourth ballon on the map, in the bottom center of our loop, is for this next photograph (below), after we’d climbed back down from the lava shelf, and were now walking by a beautiful river winding its way down the valley, almost leading us back to our bus.
I shot this with my 16-35mm lens wide open at 16mm, pointing down at the river. I’ve been very tempted to do a black and white of this one too, and maybe still will, but for now, I do enjoy the splashes of green moss that for me are so characteristic of this beautiful country.
As you might have noticed, by the time we’d gotten across the lava shelf, most of the snow had melted away, and by the time we were back on the bus, and heading home, it had almost gone from all of the peaks as well. We stopped at a wonderful caldera lake just a few miles outside of Landmannalaugar, and I made a few panoramas with my new iPhone 6 Plus, but then as I turned to take a look around, I saw the scene in this photograph (below).
If ever I see clouds like this just radiating out of a location, I always hope that that location is a beautiful one, and here, that happened. The mountains at the bottom of the frame here make for a beautiful anchor for a vertical landscape photograph that I kind of fell instantly in love with, right there through the viewfinder. As I processed it to black and white in Silver Efex Pro, I realized that this is one that I just have to print once the dust settles when I get home.
So that completes day 5 of the tour. We’ll pick up the trail again next week, as we change buses for a day, and ford river after river to get in to the beautiful valley at Thorsmork (Þórsmörk) on September 27.
Before we finish, just a quick reminder that we have now set the dates for the 2015 Iceland Tour & Workshop. If you might be interested in joining us, do check that out at https://mbp.ac/iceland2015. It’s an amazing tour, and if you don’t believe me, here’s a testimonial that I just received from Richard Strange, one of this year’s happy customers.
The MBP Iceland 2014 Tour and Workshop was the third MBP tour I have undertaken, and they just keep getting better. This tour was unforgettable for many reasons. Martin’s attention to detail and organisation of itinerary, accommodation, meals and transport have always been exemplary in my view. You do not need to even think about these aspects, leaving only the photography and interaction with other participants to focus on.
The photography in Iceland is unique – the best locations with plenty of time to ponder set-up or to seek technical advice from Martin, or his accompanying expert photographer/local knowledge aficionado (Tim Volmer on this tour), or just to marvel at the sight. Waterfalls, glaciers, mountains, lava fields (and geysers and moss) icebergs, seascapes, all pristine, and ready for shooting in variable but beautiful lighting conditions. Travelling between these spectacular locations in a large coach made for a very comfortable existence indeed.
The food and accommodation on this tour was first class.
I believe this tour is perfect for a range of photographers, from keen enthusiasts to the professional, and for those who enjoy the camaraderie of travelling with like interest people, from different nations, in a friendly but enthusiastic environment. I have already, and I will be in the future, recommending the MBP Iceland Tour and Workshop to friends and acquaintances.
– Richard Strange
Lake Macquarie, Australia
The Complete Photography Bundle – THANK YOU!
OK, so last but not least, I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of you that picked up your copy of The Complete Photography Bundle II from the 5DayDeal team. The word is that with still another 8 hours to go on the last day, collectively, we’ve helped to raise a staggering $160,000 for the four worthy charities that are also benefiting from the proceeds.
If you are listening to this literally, within 8 hours of release, you can still get your bundle at https://mbp.ac/5dd. It’s more than $2,000 worth of photography education and tools from 22 of the worlds leading pros, for just $89, and that’s a 95% discount. It’s just too good to miss, but if you did in some way manage to miss this, please sign up for my newsletters, and I’ll make sure you hear about the next one, whenever that will be. Of course, the contents will be different next time. When this one ends in eight hours, the offer is gone forever.
Details of the 2015 Iceland Tour & Workshop: https://mbp.ac/iceland2015
The Complete Photography Bundle II: https://mbp.ac/5dd
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