Iceland… A Photographer’s Paradise..
Wow, what a country, I recently had the pleasure to spend seven days roaming the south & west coast of this amazing place with my wife, Lizzy. Now I’m not renowned for my landscape shooting, in fact it’s not a I thing I normally go for, but here you soon become a convert.
Armed with a suitcase rammed with more lighting then clothing we arrived in Reykjavik, collected the hire car and set off into the beautiful white country. Planning is everything on this holiday, with help from a dear friend, Derek, who had been previously. We had most of our days planned. Now something to take into consideration, firstly this was a scouting holiday for a return later in 2016, where we plan to tour the whole of the island, this one we were staying in one place, a lovely hotel in Reykjavik. So back to the plans, well whatever you plan, a 2.5 hour drive can take up to six hours, why? The weather… No, The roads? No these are dam fine… Its the fact that if your going to photograph this dramatic place, your going to be stopping a lot, in fact every corner you will look out of your window and see another stunning shot to capture… You can try driving blinkered but it isn’t going to happen.
The place has everything, geysers, waterfalsl, rock, ice, snow, dramatic seas, moody weather, aurora’s, geothermal pools… And we didn’t even make it to the Glacier Caves, Lava Fields, Eastern Fjords, that’s all planned for our return. Apologies for the long list of things I missed out. Then there’s Reykjavik, great for street photography, with the old & new building’s, the graffiti & the sculptures. Where ever you go in Iceland don’t leave the camera behind & take lots of memory cards….
Ohh & horses, you have got to get a few shots of them, everyone does, just I wanted to do mine a little different. Yes, with lighting of course.
This is Eric, lovely pure white, seemed a little cheeky & fancied seeing how a speedlite tasted.. Simple & fast is a great way to shoot for me.
Setup shot from Lizzy, me using a three metre pole, single speedlite set on top. One end in my crouch allowing me to shoot one handed, also allowing me to move the light to different positions until I find what I’m after.. The results for me, some of the best images and memories of our trip, this one always make me smile.. Maybe that what photography is all about, the emotion you get from an image..
Then there’s the sculptures, plenty throughout, the best known is most probably the Sun Voyager. Again, I always have to do things different, alright I might have been a funny child, well just different. So with light fading and as it had been an overcast day, I approached armed with three speedlites, I knew I had to keep it soft, to harsh and the metal would burn out, so with a lot of tourist’s already shooting it from every angle, I sheepishly set out some speedlites so no one noticed. One at 2 O’clock, one at 7-8 O’clock and one on a very discreet light stand at about 10 O’clock aimed across the top. So with all lights set at an 1/8 power, here we go, no one will notice, while they all struggle for the little light that’s there… BOOM, you do get noticed when you use lighting, is it an ego thing? I’m here..lol, maybe.. so with the temperature dropping and not wanting to have the gloves off for too longt. Yes that is one thing, hands, you don’t want your gloves off to long, the fingers slow going through menus, your brain slows, well mine seemed too. So working quickly, I worked my way around the sculpture, shooting different lighting patterns, different angles, packed up & left. Gone as quick as I arrived..
Then there’s the Aurora’s, Northern Lights, night shooting. Now we didn’t have the best week, lots of clouds in the evenings & the solar winds were predicted to be low, gutting to see a KP4 on the evening when we flew out, but hey, that’s the way things go. So we planned a couple of nights, sitting in the hire car, out in the cold. First you need to find somewhere well out of town, we found a nice little area south of Reykjavik just past the airport. Heading out on one of the southern peninsula’s, here it was a complete blackout, just the faint lights of town showing. Now I’ve never shot any night stuff before, with motorcycles you have very little use for long exposure work, but photography is always a learning process & its great to push into areas your not used too. It’s either going to go right or wrong… For me the results looked pretty cool, we didn’t see any Aurora’s but its nice to get out in the middle of the night, no one for miles, it’s a great feeling of how little we all are.. Funny thing with this shoot was, it wasn’t until about three days later that I noticed on the LCD that we had capture a single strand of northern light. So everything is possible..
So back to the landscapes, as you know, I have to use a little lighting with all my shooting and a trip to Vik seemed the perfect chance, a black beach. A beach made up of black Volcanic matter, black & lighting is perfect, fired low it will emphasize the texture of the material. So I wanted to capture the sea, the Troll Rocks, the beach & have something in the foreground to light. Perfect, I come across a lovely lump of volcanic rock that’s being laying in the same places for a while, round with the sand below suck away a little by the tides. So armed with a couple of lights set at 4 & 10 O’clock, sat on a couple of bean bags to keep them low, but just off the deck. Again plenty of shots from ground level, the lighting for me worked perfectly, firing low brought out the texture of both the sand and the rock, creating shadows, texture & separation. All the things I like to see..
So all in all a cracking break, the amazement of seeing stunning places, driving through blizzards that come from no where and driving for six hours when it was meant to take two. Iceland is an amazing place… I hope you have enjoyed the blog, things have been hectic lately and with plenty of projects planned this summer, keep an eye on the blog, I plan to keep you informed.. Thanks