Iceland Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 3 (Podcast 493)

Iceland Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 3 (Podcast 493)

Welcome to part three of a 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 a group amazing participants.

We pick up the trail after breakfast on September 27, as we made a stop in the town of Vik to photograph the church on the hill, that we see in this photograph (below). This is another photograph that is basically a retake of an earlier, similar image, now that I’m shooting with the ultra-high resolution Canon EOS 5Ds R. The conditions weren’t quite as good, because there was a more dramatic sky and better light, so I think I still prefer my 2013 version, but here this is anyway.

Church at Vík í Mýrdal

Church at Vík í Mýrdal

I rescued this image to a degree with Color Efex Pro to bring out a little more of the colour, restoring it to what I recall from the day, but there was a bit of mist in the air, that in reality was reducing the clarity of the image a little, and slightly muting the colours.

I forgot to mention in last week’s episode, that most of my Landmannalaugar images have also got a little bit of Color Efex Pro applied, to bring out the colour and detail a little more. those images are much more how I recall the scene, although they perhaps look a little bit too punchy for some peoples’ liking.

After a little shopping therapy at the Icewear store in Vik, we drove for a few hours towards Jökulsárlón, but stopped on the way at this wonderful spot where the Kálfafell mountain is often reflected beautiful into a pond, as we see here (below).

Kálfafell Reflection

Kálfafell Reflection

There was no wind at this point in time, so we got some great shots with an almost perfect reflection. I shot this at f/11 with a 1/250 of a second shutter speed at ISO 400, at 24mm. I don’t recall right now if there was a reason I didn’t drop the ISO down a little and use a longer shutter speed, but I could have done without the wind.

Shortly after lunch, we arrived at Jökulsárlón, the glacial lagoon that we’d spend a lot of time at over the following three days. You could plan a shorter amount of time here if you were just looking for a “hey, I was here” type of photograph, but weather conditions can be a bit tricky, so we take the time necessary to give us a chance to produce something a little more beautiful. Even so, we had challenging conditions for most of our three days, but it didn’t stop us making some beautiful photos. Probably the calmest weather was on this first afternoon, as we can see in this photo (below).

Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

As much as I like details, I have found myself using the incredible new Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L lens quite a lot since buying it, and this was no exception. I shot this quite wide at 14mm, with a shutter speed of 1/200 of a second, at f/14, ISO 100. You do have to view it quite large to be able to appreciate the details, but we have the icebergs in the lagoon along the bottom, the glacier in the distance, and then that big Icelandic sky. I also like how the shape of the clouds from the centre to right side almost mirror the shape that the icebergs make below.

I also enjoy picking out details in the icebergs, and although I didn’t get that many of these photos this year, I kind of like this one, where I found a blue Jabawaki peering sneakily at me over the ice (below). I find it useful when looking for details to shoot to keep an eye out for things that we can identify as something else.

Jökulsárlón Icebergs - Jabawaki

Jökulsárlón Icebergs – Jabawaki

I shot this at f/14 for a 1/160 of a second at ISO 100, with my 100-400mm lens at 176mm. To enhance this a little, in Lightroom I decreased the Shadows and Blacks sliders to -36, which deepened the shadows increasing the contrast and drama. I also increased the Clarity to +60 and Vibrance to +15, and the Saturation slider to +30. This increases the blueness of the ice a little. The ice is already blue, but I sometimes like to give it a little bit of a boost like this, to bring the scene closer to how I recall it.

The following day, on September 28, the weather was forecast to go a little pear-shaped again, with rain and high winds. Another group at the same hotel decided to stay at the hotel, but I hate to do that when there is a chance that we can do something, so I took my group out, and we headed over to the next glacier along from the lagoon. As we crossed the bridge over the estuary from the lagoon though, the tide was going out, and some icebergs were trapped in the channel, with water gushing around their bases, so we stopped to shoot some images like this one (below).

Water and Ice

Water and Ice

This is a 1/4 of a second exposure at f/16, ISO 100, at 312mm with my 100-400mm lens. A quarter of a second is long enough to allow the water to blur, as we can see, so I was looking for details on the iceberg that would make a nice semi-abstract image with the flowing water. This deep blue glacial ice made the perfect subject, although it really is just a tip of the iceberg, as they say.

We went on to photograph the neighbouring glacier, and there are a couple of images from there in my final selection, but I won’t include them here, as I’ve prioritised other images to keep the numbers down to just forty for these four episodes.

The following morning, we did another dawn shoot, and there was still a full moon in the sky, the day after the super-moon, which we could not see by the way, as it was overcast. We were treated to some beautiful colour in the clouds though as the sun came up, so I went wide again to capture this image (below), mainly of the clouds, with the glacial lagoon below, and a somewhat tiny but almost full moon.

Moon and Clouds at Jökulsárlón

Moon and Clouds at Jökulsárlón

I love the detail in this cloud, and the way the morning clouds are enshrouding the glacier along the horizon, just below the moon. I’m not a fan of the choppy water in this photo, along the bottom, but it was very windy again, so there wasn’t much we could do about that.

When we were at this spot, one of the icebergs flipped, taking about 20 to 30 seconds, crunching and churning, and creating a bit of a wave that washed up the beach on which we were standing. It was an amazing sight, but the entire group, including me of course, just stood and watched it in awe. Of course, a photograph wouldn’t have done it justice without capturing the movement, but I do wish I’d thought to get my iPhone out to video it. That’s one unrecorded event that will haunt me for a while, but it is a very cool memory from the trip. I’ve seen icebergs flip in Antarctica as well, and this was equally as dramatic because of the close proximity of the surround bergs–all of them cracking and crunching together, it was quite amazing to see.

After the sun had come up, we walked across to the beach where there is usually a lot of ice from the lagoon washed up. The high tide along with very strong winds had actually dumped a ridiculously large amount of ice on the beach, making it quite difficult to single out isolated pieces, like the one we see in this next image (below).

Ice on Beach

Ice on Beach

You can see just how strong the wind was here, with the spray blowing off the crest of the wave shortly before it breaks on the beach. I was playing with long exposures as well, but with the amount of movement, you get a very different look to the usual smoothed over water, as we’ll see shortly. Here I think the shutter speed of 1/100 of a second that I chose freezes the wave enough to show the dynamic nature of the scene, which I tended to prefer for some of these photographs. I set the aperture to f/16, with an ISO of 100 at 70mm, the long end of my 24-70mm lens.

We returned to the beach later in the day, actually after the tide had gone out, leaving a lot of large pieces of ice on the beach and just off shore, as we can see here (below). These car-sized pieces of ice are technically known as growlers, because of the sound that they make as the rattle along the hull of ships at sea. You can also see here what I mean about long exposures with rough seas. This is a 5 second exposure, which leaves the rough sea looking like candy floss or cotton candy instead of the usual smooth water that you get.

Growlers in Sea

Growlers in Sea

I exposed quite a few frames at this location, because the force of the sea often moves the ice a little bit during the exposure, and although that can look quite effective, generally it just looks messy, so I wanted to give myself some frames where nothing moved other than the water. You might also notice that I composed this not only with the small chunk of ice on the beach and growlers to the left of the frame, but there is also a line of ice leading out into the sea to one last distant piece in the top right of the frame.

I was shooting this image (above) with my 24-70mm lens on a tripod, of course, but I had my 100-400mm on a second 5Ds R slung over my shoulder, which I was very happy to have as I looked up and saw this iceberg (below) looking almost like a Viking ship, and it was just storming out of the channel from the lagoon, with the tidal waters, almost as though it had an outboard motor on it.

Iceberg from Vatnajökull

Iceberg from Vatnajökull

I zoomed in to 400mm and shot this at f/11 with a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second at ISO 100. I love this shot for how it depicts the power and dynamism of the rough sea, and yet the blue of the iceberg and other splashes of blue make beautiful accents in the chaos.

Thirty minutes later, as I continued to shoot long exposures, I saw another largish iceberg come out of the channel, and once again swung my 100-400mm lens up from over my shoulder, to capture this image (below). Again, I like the dynamism and splashes of blue, as well as that bit of green from the backlit wave running across the centre of the frame.

Iceberg and Growlers from Vatnajökull

Iceberg and Growlers from Vatnajökull

You can also see the crazy amount of ice that was washed up on the beach in this shot. I’d honestly prefer less ice, but with nature you do what you can with what you have, and I think these images are nice bonus photographs under the circumstances. I shot this at f/11 with a shutter speed of 1/640 of a second at ISO 200, again at 400mm.

After this, we headed over to Fjallsjökull for one last glacier shot of this series, but we’ll wrap this up now for today, and take a look at that at the beginning of the fourth episode next week, before we go on to look at some waterfalls and Icelandic horse photos to conclude this travelogue series.

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

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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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).

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