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

Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.


Iceland Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 4 (Podcast 494)

Iceland Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 4 (Podcast 494)

Today we conclude our four part series of travelogues to walk you through a total of 40 images from my 2015 Iceland Tour and Workshop with Tim Vollmer and our amazing group for this year.

We pick up the trail on September 29, as we headed over to Fjallsjökull. This is a glacier that you can get quite close to on a promontory on the other side of the lagoon. You may recall from a few weeks ago that I mentioned my decision to take my 100-400mm lens to Iceland instead of my 70-200mm lens. Although the 70-200mm lens is a great workhorse, I really enjoyed being able to zoom past 200mm, even for landscape work.

For this photo (below) I zoomed right in to 400mm to just capture the front edge of the glacier, and a slither of the water in the lagoon for context. Although the height of the pinnacles of ice are smaller, this really reminds me of Antarctica, which is amazing really when you consider how much cheaper it is to travel to Iceland.

Fjallsjökull Glacier

Fjallsjökull Glacier

My settings for this image were 1/80 of a second at f/11, ISO 400. As I mentioned last week, because we had a fair amount of wind, I was often choosing to increase my ISO to avoid low shutter speeds, so that I could reduce the risk of camera shake, even though I was using a good tripod. I didn’t do much to this image in post either. I just added +10 on the Clarity and Saturation sliders in Lightroom, to give the image a very slight boost.

The following day, September 30, we would drive all the way back to Reykjavik from Jökulsárlón, but I ensured that we had plenty of time to photograph two of my favourite waterfalls in Iceland, as we’ll see shortly. On the way though, we made another brief stop at Kálfafell, because there were some beautiful low clouds around the distinctive mountain, as we see in this photograph (below).

Kálfafell with Clouds

Kálfafell with Clouds

There was a good breeze on this day, so we didn’t have the mirror-like reflection that we saw in the image I shared in Part 3 of this series. Because of this, I decided to go a little wider, and include the near bank of the pond, and this of course enabled me to include more of the dramatic sky.

I was fairly undecided as to whether or not to go black and white with this image, but I finally decided on colour and brought out some of the detail and heavy sky with Color Efex Pro, because the original was a little bit flat. As we just jumped off the bus for a quick photo here, I was hand-holding for this shot, with a shutter speed of 1/100 of a second at f/14, ISO 200 and a focal length of 28mm.

After driving for a few more hours, we arrived at Skógafoss, which is the waterfall that probably played the largest part in me wanting to visit Iceland than any other location. Just looking at this photograph, it’s hard to believe that this is just  a few minutes from a car park, and we always have to wait for a break in the crowds of people that flock here each day to not be in the scene, but if you are patient, you can get photographs like this (below) without people in the foreground.

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

On an overcast day like it was when we visited, if you put an ND8 neutral density filter on your lens, you can generally get a shutter speed of around half to one second with an aperture of f/14 at ISO 100. I shot this at 0.6 of a second. You always want to try to shoot waterfalls when it’s overcast, as direct sunlight on a waterfall makes it very contrasty, and in my opinion most of the beauty is lost then.

I converted this to black and white in Silver Efex Pro, and made the rock and green moss either side of the falls very dark, giving this look that I love for most of my Iceland waterfall images. The white specs that you can see on the cliff face are seagulls, which hopefully gives you a little bit of scale too. The falls are actually 25 metres (82 feet) wide with a drop of 60 m (200 ft), so they are quite a site to stand in front of.

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss

The second waterfall that we’d photograph on this day is Seljalandsfoss, which is just a 10 minute drive from Skógafoss.

As we can see in this photograph (right) although the drop is the same at 60m, this is a more slender waterfall. I always think of Skógafoss as the sumo wrestler and Seljalandsfoss as the lady in a kimono, although that’s my Japanese influence sneaking in there of course.

One of the things that I love about this waterfall is that the wind easily catches the streams of water as they fall, so you get these beautiful curves in the water as it moves in the wind.

For this image, again shot with the ND8 attached to my lens, my shutter speed was 0.8 seconds at f/14, ISO 100.

Once again, I’ve made the sides of the falls very dark, although they are green in reality. I just much prefer this look, as it enables me to reduce the scene to almost black with the beautiful delicate streams of water and the cloud of mist that raises up from the pool at the bottom of the falls.

While we’re talking about this waterfall, I’d like to mention that two of my Iceland images from 2014, including one of these falls, are currently in a collection of prints available from a company called West Elm, who have tied up with Offset, the stock agency that I license my work through. You can see the collection and buy reasonably priced prints of any of the images at mbp.ac/westelm if you are interested.

Seljalandsfoss from behind

Seljalandsfoss from behind

Although photographically I prefer the front view, you can actually walk behind Seljalandsfoss for a view like the one we see in this photograph (right).

Again, I shot a number of images because of the way the water moves in the wind, and chose this one for the patterns that the water make as they hit the pool below the falls.

Also, if you look in the bottom left of this image, you’ll see a bridge over the stream leading from the falls. That’s where I stand for my main shot of these falls. It’s always fun though, because if anyone walks on the bridge during your exposure, it moves, ruining your shot, so you have to ensure that no one moves, and time your images when no tourists are about to walk on the bridge.

I also waited a while for most of the people walking up the bank in the bottom right of this shot to move out of the photo.

It’s important to note too that you are basically photographing in a shower at this point, with the spray coming off the falls falling right onto your camera and your lens.

With light spray or rain, I usually use my air blower to blow the droplets of water to the edge of my filter, but in this much spray, you have to wipe it. I also hold a cloth over the front of the lens as I wipe it, to stop more spray hitting it as I wipe, and I leave the cloth over the front of the lens until I am ready to actually make the exposure. In fact, I use a 2 second timer, and remove the cloth a split second before the time elapses, and this enables me to get shots without droplets on the filter, as those droplets will usually ruin your photo.

After spending an hour at Seljalandsfoss we continued our drive back to Reykjavik, for two more nights. On October 1, the last shooting day of the tour, we travelled north east of Reykjavik, to the small but very wide waterfall at Hraunfossar (below). This photo actually only shows a small percentage of the 900m wide series of falls as water flows from ledges of less porous rock in the lava field.

Hraunfossar (Falls)

Hraunfossar (Falls)

I’ve never liked my photos here when I go really wide, trying to include all of the falls, as the details are lost in a wide shot, so this photo (above) is about as wide as I personally like to go, at 50mm focal length. I used an ND8 here too for a 2.0 second exposure at f/11, ISO 100. It was raining at this point, so the sky was very dark giving me a good long exposure, even just with the ND8.

As you can see, this is one of the few places where there are enough small trees to actually enable the fall color to play a part in the image. This is one of the reasons that I time these tours for September, as well as the fact that most tourists have left by September as well. 🙂

I also used my 100-400mm lens at 100mm to zoom in and shoot more details, such as the angel that Tim Vollmer often points out to the group here (below). The shape of the water just to the left of centre looks a little bit like an angel with its head and wings spread.

Hraunfossar Angel

Hraunfossar Angel

I actually changed my ISO to 200 here, and to counter that, changed my shutter speed to 1 second, as that’s plenty to get the beautiful silky look in the water, and it also helped me to reduce the movement in the trees as they caught the wind, although I don’t dislike capturing that movement in my images either. I think it adds to the dynamism of the shot.

A few minutes walk upstream take you to Barnafoss, which we can see in this image (below). I shot longer focal lengths here too, like in previous years, but here I used the new Canon 11-24mm f/4 lens at 12mm to capture the entire flow of the water that can be seen from this spot, from when it enters view in the top right, down to where it flows out of view on the left.

Barnafoss in Fall Color

Barnafoss in Fall Color

Going wide here also enabled me to capture almost equal amounts of colour in all four corners of the image as well, which I quite like. This spot is quite popular with day trippers and school trips at this time of year too, because of the beautiful colour, so we had to be patient here too, waiting for the tourists that walk along the rocks in the top left to leave. I think I ended up cloning out one person for this particular image. This was also shot with a 1 second exposure at f/14, ISO 200.

We keep our eyes out for some nice Icelandic horses throughout the trip, and Tim generally know where there are some that are more friendly, or less shy, and we stopped to photograph some of these on our way back to Reykjavik after photographing the falls, as we can see here (below).

Icelandic Horses

Icelandic Horses

The difficulty with ad-hoc horse shoots in Iceland is that they usually come over very close to the wire fence around their enclosure, so you have to frame your shots in such a way as to not include the fence. That’s partly what I was doing here too, but this one grey horse that lifted its head up above the others for a moment caught my eye, so I couldn’t resist shooting this. I’m not sure exactly why, but I quite like this, despite it being a little bit busy, and I’ve cropped the nose off the brown horse to the right. Maybe it’s the waves formed by the various heads, with just the grey horse sticking his head up above the rest that appeals to me.

We’ll finish our 40 images that we’ve looked at over these four episodes with this last somewhat humorous shot of the horses, with the grey one sticking its tongue out at us. This was actually just part of a yawn, but there was a moment when the tongue was sticking out, which kind of makes me smile. 🙂

Icelandic Horse Sticking Tongue Out

Icelandic Horse Sticking Tongue Out

Under the heavily overcast sky, both of these images were shot at ISO 1600 to give me a shutter speed of 1/400 of a second with an aperture of f/8.  I wanted a fast shutter speed as the horses were moving and their hair blowing around too, but also so that I could safely zoom in to 400mm if I needed to, without worry about camera movement as I was hand-holding.

This became our last shoot of the tour, so as is customary, on the bus on the way back to Reykjavik we recorded a brief message from each of the members of the group, which I’ll play you now. John, who starts off totally cracked us up reading his message from his iPhone screen. Take a listen…

[Listen to the recording with the player at the top of this post to hear what everyone said.]

What a brilliant group we had again this year!

Greenland 2016

Before we finish, I also wanted to mention that in addition to my 2016 Iceland Full Circle Tour, I have teamed up with Tim Vollmer for a new tour in Greenland, that promises to be pretty amazing!

We’ll be visiting the eastern side of Greenland with fjords and beautiful scenery, glaciers and huge icebergs which we’ll explore from boats and helicopters, and we’ll be on land too, shooting both the incredible scenery and a number of cultural experiences as we photograph the local people making kayaks and performing an Inuit Drum Dance. For details and to book your place, visit mbp.ac/greenland2016.

Greenland Tour & Workshop 2016

 


Show Notes

Details of our Greenland 2016 Tour and Workshop: https://mbp.ac/greenland2016

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

West Elm X Offset Print Collection: https://mbp.ac/westelm

Martin’s work on Offset: https://mbp.ac/offset

Martin’s Iceland Prints

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

Subscribe in iTunesSubscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.

Iceland 2013 Tour Travelogue Part 4 (Podcast 390)

Iceland 2013 Tour Travelogue Part 4 (Podcast 390)

This week we conclude the four part series of travelogue episodes to cover my first tour in Iceland a month ago, from August 25 to September 5, 2013. Iceland definitely didn’t disappoint, with beautiful light and incredible scenery, and we had a great group to travel with as a bonus. It was a very special trip to kick off my Iceland tours with.

We pick up the trail on the final shooting day, September 4, 2013, as we drove pretty much the width of the island, stopping at some of the most iconic locations and waterfalls that Iceland has to offer. Earlier in the tour we’d driven through a lot of these locations, but didn’t have time to stop, as we were scheduled to arrive at our hotel quite late, even with just a few toilet stops, but the scenes we passed had haunted me and the group, so I was really looking forward to getting back and seeing if there were still shots.

The first image that I want to look at today is of the rocks needles called Reynisdrangar, jutting out of the sea near Vík í Mýrdal. Thanks to Bergþór Jónsson on Google Plus, I now know that Legend says the stacks originated when two trolls tried to drag a three-masted ship to land unsuccessfully and when daylight came they were frozen into these needles of rock (below).

Reynisdrangar at Vík í Mýrdal

Reynisdrangar at Vík í Mýrdal

Again here, I used my ND8 and ND400 neutral density filters stacked together for a 30 second exposure at f/16, ISO 100. The needles were a way out, so I used my 70-200mm lens at 180mm. I composed the shot so that the beach was just running along the bottom of the frame, as that causes the white water from the waves to leave these interesting patterns. Further out, there was only a little bit of cloud movement, but the smoothness of the sea with texture from the waves is quite effective I think.

For the last shot, we stood on a large stone storm barrier shaped almost like a pier running out along the beach. When I turned to face the other way, there were a couple of surfers braving the Icelandic sea, and one of their surfboards still sitting on the beach, which I found quite ironic, so grabbed a couple of frames.

Surfboard

Surfboard

I didn’t do a long exposure for this shot (above), as the story was obviously going to be about surfing, so I wanted the waves to be rolling in to support the story. I took the neutral density filters off, and increased the ISO to 200 to give me a 1/250 of a second exposure at f/14. This shutter speed was enough to freeze the waves as they rolled up the beach, and I timed the shot so that there were not only some nice waves, but also the layers of dark wet sand and the white water from the previous waves still drawing out.

Another scene that had been haunting me since we drove past earlier in the tour, was the church on the hill with the beautiful green mountains behind them that we see here (below). The composition was difficult here, because there is a large area of just mud below the church and there are ugly factories and other buildings below that and to the left.

Vík í Mýrdal Church

Vík í Mýrdal Church

Once I had this framed how I wanted it though, we had to wait a while until the light caught the church just right, which didn’t take long, but then I also wanted just a splash of light on the mountains in back, which took a while longer to happen at the same time as the church being lit. We were already late for lunch, and had a lot of ground to cover this day, but I think this splash of sunlight was worth messing up the schedule a little.

A few minutes from this spot, we drove around the promontory to a car park from which we could walk to the basalt cave that we see in this next image (below). The needle that you see here is the left most needle in the shot we looked at earlier. I used my 16-35mm lens wide open at 16mm to get the entire mouth of the cave in the shot, and again used my two neutral density filters to get a 30 second exposure at f/16, ISO 100.

Hálsanefs Hellir

Hálsanefs Hellir

The light was catching the top of the cave just enough for me to be able to pull this detail out in Silver Efex Pro, and again the waves crashing on the beach have left their beautiful white satin texture. I would have loved to get all the rock needles in the shot, but I had to go this far back to get the full semi-circular cave mouth in, so that wasn’t to be.

After this, we drove quite a way to what was one of the locations I had most wanted to shoot since I saw my friend Graham Morgan’s shot of the beautiful waterfall Skógafoss. If you saw the main image that I used to market the 2013 Iceland tour, that was Graham’s photo, that he kindly let me use and I had not yet been myself. I’d wanted to visit Iceland for many years, but it was that photo that made me realize that I just had to make it happen.

As is often the case with preconceptions about a location, I imagined Skógafoss to be much more remote, but there were quite a few tourists that invariably walk into the scene as you are trying to capture it in just the right light, but they have as much right to be there as we did, so it’s just a case of being patient and we were rewarded with a few shots that I am very happy with.

Skógafoss (Falls)

Skógafoss (Falls)

Unfortunately, there was a drop of water that had trickled down between my protector filter and the ND8 filter that I’d screwed on and just sat in the middle of it, and sandwiched between the ND8 and my protector filter, so for a while I couldn’t figure out why there was a drop of water right in the middle of my shots. I lost a bunch of what would have been OK images before I unscrewed the filters to find the offending droplet. Luckily though the first frame that I made here was fine, and that is the image we see here (above).

I should also note that I only leave the protector filter on when I’m only using one Neutral Density filter. If I stack two NDs, I remove the protector filter because otherwise you start to see vignetting, which is a darkening of the corners, and on wide angle lenses this can be very severe, and should be avoided when possible. I only used the ND8 here, because I just wanted to make the waterfall smooth over a little, so I shot this at 0.4 seconds at f/16, ISO 100.

It had been chucking it down with rain in fine Icelandic style for the time were were at Skógafoss, but just as we were about to leave, the sun came out and lit up the falls, and caused the rainbow that we see in this next shot (below). I heard from our friend Morton Goldberg on Google Plus that he prefers this color version over the black and white, which is nice to know, as that makes me happy to have included this in my final selection, but personally I prefer the black and white.

Skógafoss (Falls) with Rainbow

Skógafoss (Falls) with Rainbow

I’ve included this today though not only because I know some people will prefer this, like Morton, but also to show how differently we can process what are essentially almost identical photographs. The black and white version doesn’t look at lot different to this, if you remove the rainbow, so I hope you can appreciate how much the black and white processing is effecting the final image here. Exposure wise, the sun had come out, so I changes the shutter speed to 0.3 seconds and reduced the ISO to 50, and the aperture was now at f/22.

Seljalandsfoss (Falls)

Seljalandsfoss (Falls)

Next up, we have another of my favorite shots from the trip, a side view of the Seljalandsfoss falls (left). I had more trouble with the rain while shooting this. Firstly, realize that I had walked up the track besides these falls and was basically standing in the spray from the falls.

I started out with my 16-35mm lens with the ND8 fitted, but could not for the life of me get a sharp shot, so I changed lenses to my 24-70mm for this. It turns out that the inside of my ND8 had misted up, so I could have gone back to my 16-35mm, but I was standing in a downpour from the falls, and decided to just go with the 24-70mm, to save changing lenses again.

The result is although perhaps a couple of millimeters more tightly cropped over what I would have done, but I still like it very much. Note too that I decided to still go with this image despite the large droplets of water on the filter. I have a few with droplets in various places, but for some reason I like the immersive feel to this shot, pun very much intended, as it really feels like I felt standing in the mist from the falls, getting soaking wet.

Again, this was a 0.3 second exposure at f/16, ISO 50. As with all the other black and white images, I converted this in Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro, to help me create this dramatic feel and really bring out the texture in the wonderful Icelandic skies.

Seljalandsfoss (Falls)

Seljalandsfoss (Falls)

This next shot (left) is the same falls, from a footbridge across the river that flows off front left of the falls. Because I was not pointing the camera up, including the bright sky for this image, I changed the exposure from 0.3 seconds to 0.6 seconds, and you can hopefully see how much smoother doubling the shutter speed makes the water of the falls.

I like the effect in this image, but this is something that I control closely for waterfall shots. As much as I like really long exposures, I don’t want this level of smoothness in all of my images.

This was actually our last photography stop of the tour, and so as I stood by the bus door, watching the group back on board, I found it quite ironic to see a lone bus trundling along the road in the distance, with the sun bursting through the heavy clouds above, and yet rain pouring out of the bottom of those very same clouds.

I composed this shot (below) with the road running along and very close to the bottom edge of the frame, so that I could include as much of the dramatic sky as possible. The scene was quite a way off, so to ensure that we could actually make out that there’s a bus at the bottom there, I zoomed in to 50mm, and this allowed me to also include a nice chunk of that awesome sky.

Of course, I also needed to freeze the motion of the bus for this shot, so I took the neutral density filter and increased the ISO to 100, and the shutter speed to 1/400 of a second at f/11. Luckily I had a few seconds to make these changes before the bus got into what I consider the optimal point in the frame, heading into the heavier part of the rain.

Last Bus

Last Bus

As we drove away from this last stop, I couldn’t resist reaching for my iPhone to record the customary round table interview with the participants, which I’d like to play you now.

2013 Iceland Tour Group Photo

2013 Iceland Tour Group Photo

So, that’s it. We’ve concluded our four part travelogue series from my first tour of Iceland. I’d like to thank any of the participants that listen to this. You were a great group, and a pleasure to travel with, and I hope enjoyed Iceland as much as I did. I’d also like once again to thanks Tim Vollmer, my partner and guide for this tour. You did an amazing job Tim, and I can’t wait to work with you again next year!

Join us in 2014!

And on that note, we are already taking bookings for the 2014 Iceland Tour which will be run from September 22 to October 3, 2014. These are great dates, as the days will be shorter, giving us better light in the morning and evenings, and it gives us a better chance of seeing and shooting the Aurora without eating into too much into our sleep time. It’ll be great to see you there, so take a look at the details of our 2014 Iceland Tour if you are interested.

Click here to view our Iceland Prints

 


Show Notes

Iceland Portfolio: https://martinbaileyphotography.com/portfolio/iceland/

Music by UniqueTracks

 


Audio

Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.