Iceland Full Circle Photography Tour 2016 Travelogue 1 (Podcast 543)

Iceland Full Circle Photography Tour 2016 Travelogue 1 (Podcast 543)

Today we start a series of travelogue style episodes to walk you through my recent Iceland Full Circle Photography Tour and Workshop.

Before we start, I want to just mention that I will interrupt this series, probably next week, to bring you a video showing how I’m processing my images now in Capture One Pro. I was hoping to do that this week, but have been too busy, so we’ll start this series, but jump in with the video then continue the series after that.

Now in it’s fourth year, this year’s Iceland tour was another wonderful, memorable experience, with a great group of participants. We changed the itinerary for this year, to take the group full circle, enabling us to pull in some of the beautiful waterfalls in the North, and we’ll look at some photos of these falls in a later episode.

Very Productive Trip

I shot a total of 1991 images during the 11 days of shooting in Iceland. During the few hours of downtime that we had here and there, I was able to go through and do a quick edit and initial selection of my images for all but the last day, which I completed after I returned to Japan. After my initial selection process I had some 538 photos that I wanted to look at again. That’s more than one in four images, and a higher ratio than I’m used to selecting. It’s not that the images were necessarily better than usual. It was just a very productive trip.

Also, many of the images were variations of ice on the beach with crashing waves or iceberg photos from a zodiac, which generally require a large number of frames to find something that works well. Still, I had to invest the time to go through and whittle my selection down to as few images as possible, and it was relatively time consuming this time, especially when we consider that this was a landscape trip.

Even though it’s been two weeks since I got home, and going through removing a few more images each day, I still have 146 images in my current selection, and I can’t see myself removing many more at this point. It’s a nice problem to have of course, but now I have the job of going through and promoting the better of the set to identify the images that I want to proactively share with people, and also find the portfolio class images.

Bonus Day in Reykjavik

As usual, we did a bonus photo walk on the first day, for people that were already in town, and visited the large church in Reykjavik, Hallgrímskirkja. Unfortunately the outside view was a bit of a mess due to some construction work that they were having done, so I won’t share any images. We continued on along the main road in Reykjavik, and down to the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center on the water front.

I really enjoy shooting in the Harpa, with all of its colored windows and intertwined floors, but I rarely like my photos from the inside of the building enough to share them. Here is one of the outside of the Harpa building, from the other side of the small harbor out back (below).

Harpa Building and Harbor

Harpa Building and Harbor

As you can see, we had a great sky, although I have brought that out some in Capture One. The original image was a little bit flatter than this, although there are only a few slider tweaks between this and the original. The Harpa is an amazing building though. I really enjoy my yearly visit.

Öxarárfoss Waterfall

To make time to go up north, we dropped the days that we used to spend around Reykjavik, and the Reykjanes Peninsula, and headed out of Reyjkjavik the morning after this bonus day, once all of the group was in town. Our first stop was Thingvillir, and the Öxarárfoss waterfall.

Öxarárfoss

Öxarárfoss

Apparently it’s been a relatively dry summer in Iceland, so the water level wasn’t very high, and the rocks were mostly quite dry, which I don’t really like. This location is much better when the rock is all deep black and shiny, but we have to work with what we’re presented.

I also much prefer to photograph waterfalls when it’s overcast, as they are too contrasty in direct sunlight, but again, we do what we can. The result is an OK photo, but nothing to write home about. Although I would have done this black and white conversion in Silver Efex Pro in the past, this one is straight out of Capture One Pro.

Geysir

After Öxarárfoss we headed on to Geysir, the geyser from which the west got our name for these natural phenomenon. I decided to first go for a shot of the water bulging, as the eruption starts, and although I had to crop it down considerably on the top to remove the people in the background, I’m pretty happy with the results (below).

Geysir Bulging

Geysir Bulging

With the bright sun directly behind the water, I was able to get a shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second at f/10, ISO 100, so this pretty much froze the movement of the water as the bulge started to develop. I really like how you can see into the water to see the right ridge of the hole from which the water erupts, and see all of the bubbles under the surface.

Geysir Erupting

Geysir Erupting

A few minutes after this, I photographed the eruption itself, as we can see in this image (right).

From the same location as the previous image, the sun was right behind the water for this shot, so all of the water is beautifully backlit, showing all of the texture and various layers of the water.

Still at a 1/1000 of a second shutter speed at f/10, ISO 100, the droplets of water are all perfectly frozen in time.

The fast shutter speed also meant that the blue in the sky went really deep. I’m not a fan of blue skies, but here, I think it makes a nice contrast.

I haven’t bothered to clone out the few people in the image. I might do that later before I submit this to OFFSET for my stock photography collection, but for now, this is just a documentary shot to show you where we were and what we were photographing.

After Geysir, we continued on our somewhat touristy Golden Circle tour, and made our way to Gullfoss. When we first arrived, the falls were still in full sun, but luckily we had a great sky roll in just as we started to get into position to shoot the falls.

Gullfoss

I know this is kind of repetitive, but I couldn’t resist making my favorite photograph from this spot, looking down the gorge, as we can see in this image (below/right).

Gullfoss Falls and Gorge

Gullfoss Falls and Gorge

I’m happy to have been able to make this new version of this photograph, because of that great sky. It’s probably the best bit of sky I’ve had for this photograph, so a nice addition to my image library.

Again, this is a Capture One Pro black and white conversion. I’ll try to remember to show you what I did to this image in the upcoming processing video, but I’ll quickly summarize here.

I turned on the Enable Black and White checkbox in the Black and White tool panel, obviously, and reduced the yellow slider to -80. This deepens the greens, as I wanted the foreground grass to be really dark.

Then in the High Dynamic Range tool panel, I increased the Highlight slider to 45, and the Shadow slider to 20. Under Levels, I moved my mid-point to -0.10 and my white point to 250.

In the Luma Curve I also deepened the shadows a little and brightened the mid-tones, which is the water. I know I increased the Shadow slider in the High Dynamic Range tool as well, which may seem counterintuitive, but I like the finished look, so I’m not worrying about that too much.

Then I added 35 Clarity, set to Punch mode, and 23 Structure. These are all generic changes, that modify the look of the entire image. I went on to add an Adjustment layer to darken down the two triangular shaped sides of the foreground, and also cloned out some bits of grass and rocks in the foreground that stood out a little bit too much.

Time-wise, these modifications took perhaps a couple of minutes, which is about the same amount of time that I would have spent on this image in Silver Efex and Lightroom in the past. I haven’t been quite as heavy handed with the darkness of these dark areas as before. I am using the Exposure Warnings in Capture One to show me when I’m going to full black, and pulling that back again, to maintain a little bit of detail as I plug up that foreground, and this is working well for me.

The Highlands

That took us to the end of the shooting for day one, and we then drove to our next hotel in the highlands, for a nice early start the following day heading into one of my favorite locations on the planet, Landmannalaugar.

On the way, we stopped at the Blahylur crater lake, of which I got some nice shots, but wanted to share a view from that location in a different direction, as I’d photographed these beautiful ringed hills in the distance. I’ve photographed these each year so far, but never really liked the results, because the light wasn’t quite right. Today, it was working, so I’m happy with this photo (below).

Ringed Mountains

Ringed Mountains

I love how the layers of strata are visible in these hills, as they look almost like a topographical map of themselves. The moss and lose volcanic gravel add to the effect, and the colorful mountains in the distance doing a great job as supporting actors. To isolate this scene, I used my 100-400mm lens at 255mm, with a 1/30 of a second exposure at f/14, ISO 100.

Landmannalaugar

A little further along the road, we reached our destination, the carpark at Landmannalaugar, and walked up onto the lava shelf, and across to the valley that you can see in this photo (below). I tell myself each year, that this place is just a little bit closer to heaven than most parts of the planet, speaking metaphorically of course.

Landmannalaugar Winding River

Landmannalaugar Winding River

I did my usual valley shots, and my self-portrait with me looking out across the valley, but I thought I’d share this shot, as it’s a little bit different from my previous work. I used my 11-24mm lens at 21 mm, pointing down into the valley, to show the river winding through it. At 21 mm the rhyolite mountains are still large enough to add impact to the shot, as well as allowing us to see the valley basin with the various shades of grass and cotton grass, as well as a few strategically placed sheep.

After spending quite a while photographing the valley, we walked around the edge of the lava shelf, then back up over it, before heading into the mountains, where I shot this next image (below). I love this view too, with the lava shelf in the middle ground, way in the distance you can see the valley where we had parked our bus, and then this foreground with the moss and steam, almost makes it look like the mountain is alive and breathing. I guess in some ways, because of the geothermal activity, the mountain is alive.

Breathing Mountains

Breathing Mountains

We had a great sky on this day too. The light was similar to that which we’d had on my first visit to this place, four years ago. It was simply magical. I used to run my photos from this location through Color Efex Pro to bring the greens and other colors back to how I remembered and felt the location, but here too, I’m now just tweaking these images in Capture One Pro. I love being able to keep my images in their original raw format and get exactly the look I want.

Rhyolite Mountains

Rhyolite Mountains

After climbing a little further, we got to a point where you can see this incredible view, looking through the rhyolite mountains (right).

This spot is difficult to shoot and really do justice, because you can’t quite get a good angle without getting the base of the mountain that you are standing on in the bottom of the frame, but it works well enough.

Again, the colors are enhanced slightly in Capture One, but only by tweaking the Saturation and Clarity, and moving the white point a little bit in the Levels.

I had exposed for the clouds in this shot, at the top of the frame, so the foreground was relatively dark. To bring the detail out, I pumped up both the Highlight and Shadows sliders in the Hight Dynamic Range tool. This works really well, so I was able to continue to avoid doing any HDR images throughout this trip.

I also wanted to note that I can’t look at this image without seeing a koala bear’s face in that snow at the top of the frame. Can you see what I mean? There’s his left eye and nose, and the right eye is covered by that peak.

After this, we walked back across part of the lava shelf, then down beside the river, back to our bus, to drive to our hotel for the night.

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss

The following day, we made tracks along the southern coast of Iceland, until we got to one of my favorite waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss, that we can see in this photograph (right).

There was a good breeze, so the tendrils of water are blowing around, seemingly quite frail, as they make their way to the basin at the base of the falls.

Again a Capture One black and white conversion here, I have continued with my tendency to make the rocks of the cliff walls really dark, accentuating just the form of the falling water.

I also stayed in Capture One to clone out the hordes of people behind the falls. And I cloned out the little island of grass that was in ton our he water, taking up most of the left side of the basin of the falls here.

It sometimes requires a little more work to do this in Capture One, but I learned of a shortcut from Phase One’s David Grover recently, that really speeds up the process, so I’ll share that in my upcoming processing video as well.

After this we drove 15 minutes around the corner to Skogafoss, absolutely my favorite waterfall in Iceland, but we’ll take a look at a shot from there at the start of part two of this series, as this takes to us our tenth image for today.

Iceland & Greenland 2017

With that, I’d usually just point you to my 2017 tour page if you might be thinking of joining us, but I’m actually considering totally changing next year’s tour. Last week I floated the possibility of doing another Greenland tour in 2017 and/or 2018, and I had a pretty good response, but not many people want to travel this far for just one week in Greenland, so I’m considering coupling it with a second week in Iceland.

Adding a week in Iceland will obviously add quite a lot of money, especially as the prices in Iceland are going through the roof right now, but I do think it will be an incredibly productive two weeks, so what I’m going to suggest right now, is if you think you might be interested, just drop me a line to let me know, and I’ll keep you in the loop.

 


Show Notes

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Iceland Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 1 (Podcast 491)

Iceland Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 1 (Podcast 491)

Having just got back from my 2015 Iceland Tour, today we’re going to kick off a four part series of travelogues to walk you through a total of 40 images selected from my 70 final images from the tour.

The tour starts on Sept 21, which officially is a transfer day, just to get people into Reykjavik, but for those that are arrive early enough, we go into town for a bonus day. We start at the iconic Hallgrímskirkja Church, which can be seen at the top of the hill from many of the side streets from the Reykjavik high street. The city of Reykjavik seems to radiate out from this church (below).

Hallgrímskirkja Church

Hallgrímskirkja Church

Canon EF11-24mm f/4 Lens Gelatin Filter Holder

Canon EF11-24mm f/4 Lens Gelatin Filter Holder

There were some great clouds on this day, with breaks where the sun shone through, so I used an 80 second shutter speed to enable the clouds to move a lot during the exposure. Because the new 11-24mm lens from Canon doesn’t accept the usual circular neutral density filters, I’m using Triacetyl Cellulose film cut into small squares that fit into the filter holder on the back of the lens.

For this photo I think I used the ND film with an optical density of 4.0, and that is the same as an ND 10,000X, which gives me 13.3 stops of darkness, so a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second becomes 80 seconds.

I converted this photo to black and white in Silver Efex Pro 2, as I generally do. Note that I actually darkened the front of the church a little to enhance the somewhat sinister feel that I get from this photograph. I also cloned out a large circular mirror that someone seems to have thought would be a good idea to place in front of the church this year.

After visiting the church, we walked through the town over to the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, which is a spectacular building down on the waterfront. Here we see a view from inside the building (below) with the stairs that run up one of the walls of glass. None of the walls in the Harpa are actually perfectly straight, and all of the angles seem to run off in a kind of beautiful architectural mayhem.

Inside the Harpa

Inside the Harpa

I shot this at f/11 for 1/125 of a second, at ISO 100 with a focal length of 24mm. I really like how the shadows of the window frames leave their patterns in various places around the inside of the room, and the addition of a few people at the top of the stairs helps to give us some scale and adds a little story to the photo.

From the outside it’s easier to see that some of the windows are coloured glass, seemingly positioned randomly across the building, as we see in this photo (below). At this point the heavy Icelandic sky was reflecting in the glass, adding some nice texture, and I positioned myself so that we got a clearer hint of that in the light blue window in the bottom right quadrant.

Harpa Windows

Harpa Windows

I shot this at 30mm with a shutter speed of 1/160 of a second at f/13, ISO 100 again.

Hanging Fish

Hanging Fish

As has become customary on the tour, we started the first official tour day by swinging by the fish drying frames on the way to the Reykjanes Peninsula (right).

This location obviously stinks to high heaven, but it’s fun to just walk around and pick out photos from the thousands of fish that are simply hanging their trying to dry, which must be a thankless task as it rains so much here.

As with this photo, I tend to look for eyes that haven’t yet totally glazed over, as I feel we have more of a connection with images that include eyes that we can recognise.

I shot this at f/5 with a shutter speed of 1/160 of a second at ISO 2000, because I was hand-holding my camera with a 170mm focal length.

Having shot with the Canon EOS 5Ds R for a few months now, I’m still finding that it’s absolutely not a problem to shoot hand-held, though I do try to stick to the rule of thumb of using your focal length as your minimum shutter speed, hence 1/160 of a second at 170mm.

After the fish, we headed further into the countryside, and having stopped at a few landscape locations, we arrived at the geothermal power plant that you can see in this next photo (below).

As it was on the cool side and raining, there was a lot of steam drifting across the scene between me and the power plant that we see here. I simply waited for one of the clear moments to make this photograph. It had been raining on and off all morning, and the wind was getting up as well, but I’m happy with how this photo turned out.

Geothermal Power Plant

Geothermal Power Plant

Again, I converted to black and white in Silver Efex Pro to bring out the detail in the cloudy sky and separate it from the steam coming out of the plant. I shot this at f/14 with a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second at ISO 800, 120mm. I increased the ISO to 800 to get a higher shutter speed although I was using a tripod for this, because the wind was really gusting, and this could have caused camera shake without a reasonably fast shutter speed.

The following day, on September 23, we drove out, stopping at another geothermal power plant and then on to Öxarárfoss, a beautiful waterfall that we can see in this next photo (below). Here we’d climbed up on the cliff looking down on the falls, and I used my 11-24mm lens again at 17mm to accentuate the expanse of water flowing from the falls, almost letting the falls themselves step back a little into the side lines.

Öxarárfoss (Falls)

Öxarárfoss (Falls)

There was actually only a very slight cloud cover at this time, which isn’t great for photographing waterfalls. You really need it to be overcast for waterfalls, as this reduces the contrast in the water, making for an overall better photo. Waterfalls in full sun look terrible, but there was just about enough cloud to make this image possible. I think I was using ND film with an optical density of either 1.5 or 2.0 for this shot, for a 0.6 second exposure at f/14, ISO 100.

Close to the falls, there is a place called Silfra, which is the fissure between the North American and Eurasian continents. The plates are actually drifting apart there at a rate of 2cm per year. This photo was shot a little bit further down from the bridge where we have shot this fissure in previous years, so a slightly different view to what you might have seen from me in the past (below).

Silfra - The Fissure Between North American and Eurasian Plates

Silfra – The Fissure Between North American and Eurasian Plates

I haven’t done a lot to this image, just increased the Clarity and Vibrance a little in Lightroom. It was a 3 second exposure at f/14, ISO 100 and a focal length of 21mm. I went for a 3 second exposure here, to smooth over the surface of the water, which was rippling a little in the breeze, and I thought it would look better totally smooth like this.

Geysir

Geysir

On September 24, the following day, we first visited Geysir, and the large geyser that gave us the English word for these amazing natural phenomenon, which we can see in this photo (right).

As it was a somewhat rare blue sky, I decided to use the sunlight to effect, by standing at a place that would put the eruption of water directly between me and the sun.

Eruptions can apparently be as high as 70 meters, although often a bit smaller. This eruption actually continued a little higher, but it ran out of the frame at 24mm.

I changed to my 11-24mm lens for some wider shots, but this one ended up being my favourite from the day, as it shows the power of the water, and I quite like the cloud patterns behind the water.

After this, we moved on to Gullfoss, an amazing waterfall, which some sources claim to be the largest falls in Europe. Unfortunately, the clear weather that we saw in the Geysir photo continued, and we had very harsh shadows across the middle of the falls in a photo of the entire scene.

In this photo (below) I did what I could under the circumstances and zoomed in on just a small part of the falls with a focal length of 114mm with my 100-400mm lens. Because it was so bright, a three stop ND8 circular ND filter wouldn’t give me a long enough shutter speed, so I used my ND400x filter and increased my ISO to 250, giving me a shutter speed of 1 second at f/14.

Gullfoss (Falls)

Gullfoss (Falls)

You can still see that there is some strong, harsh light hitting the falls, but this was one of the few angles and compositions that I could find to still make a half decent photo of the falls in this light.

Gullfoss Falls with Gorge

Gullfoss Falls with Gorge

Another angle which I always shoot, and did on this day too, is this one from the end of the gorge which carries away the 140 cubic meters of water that flow from Gullfoss each second (right).

You can see from this photo, the sun was reflecting strongly on the top of the falls to the left, but the mist that rises from the water helped to filter out the light enough to still rescue the scene in the most part photographically. I actually don’t mind the silky look of that water to the left as much as I thought I would.

Again, this is a Silver Efex Pro conversion, and I’ve darkened the foreground down some more to keep our focus on the “V” of the gorge and water, leading the eye into the scene and hopefully down the gorge through the mist.

Under the same lighting, this was shot with exactly the same settings as the last image, 1 second exposure at f/14, ISO 250, but with a focal length of 35mm now, using my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.

OK, so that’s our ten images for this week. We’ll pick up the trail in Part 2 on September 25, when we’ll visit the amazing Landmannalaugar, and go on to the Reynisdrangar sea-stacks at Vik.

Iceland 2016

For our Iceland 2016 tour and workshop, we are changing the tour slightly, and taking the group Full Circle, so that we can pull in some more beautiful locations like the eastern fjords, and the amazing waterfalls, Dettifoss and Godafoss. Visit the tour page at mbp.ac/iceland2016 for details and book your place, but hurry, there are only three spaces left at the time of recording this episode.

Iceland Full Circle 2016

 


Show Notes

Details of Iceland 2016 Full Circle Tour and Workshop: https://mbp.ac/iceland2016

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

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Iceland Tour 2014 Travelogue Part 2 (Podcast 444)

Iceland Tour 2014 Travelogue Part 2 (Podcast 444)

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.

Geysir

Geysir

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 (Falls)

Gullfoss (Falls)

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.

Gullfoss (Falls)

Gullfoss (Falls)

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.

Hjálparfoss (Falls)

Hjálparfoss (Falls)

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.

In the Highlands of Iceland

In the Highlands of Iceland

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.

Landmannalaugar Map Screenshot

Landmannalaugar Map Screenshot

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.

Martin in Landmannalaugar

Martin in Landmannalaugar

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.

Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar

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.

Landmannalaugar Fumarole Steam

Landmannalaugar Fumarole Steam

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.

Landmannalaugar Winding River

Landmannalaugar Winding River

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).

Mountains from Bláhylur

Mountains from Bláhylur

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.

Iceland 2015

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

Iceland Tour & Workshop 2015

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.


Show Notes

Details of the 2015 Iceland Tour & Workshop: https://mbp.ac/iceland2015

The Complete Photography Bundle II: https://mbp.ac/5dd

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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