Marc De Tollenaere: Iceland. In nature's kingdom.
Iceland. In nature's kingdom.
A journey back in time, through the incredible beauty of this land, young daughter of the last ice age. Iceland is a world of monument
al cliffs, thundering waterfalls, fjords, beaches of black sand, silent glaciers and deserts of lava. The recent volcanic activity remind us that this is a restless country, with ever-changing panoramas that Icelanders themselves continually rediscover.
The first night, we stop close to Steinadalsvegur, where we get our first taste of the North's amazing light. I make the most of the Gitzo Ocean Systematic tripod with panoramic head that was entrusted to me, and take a series of 8 shots on my Nikon D4 (with 35mm f2.0). The photos are all 100 iso, 1/100s, f 11, and later I merge them in photoshop to complete the panorama. One of the big advantages of photographing at this latitude is the long sunrises and sunsets; we're amazed to discover we have the time to frame, meter the light and shoot calmly. On our return to the hotel in Sælingsdalsvegur, Iceland surprises us again with a moonrise over the plains that brings to mind Ansel Adams' famous “Moonrise”.
- Nikon D4, Hasselblad 80mm, 100 iso, 1/60s, f 5.6, Tungsten white balance
The best way to get around here is in a 4×4, though one often finds photographic inspiration just by parking on the side of the road.
- Photo taken at Holar. Nikon D3s, 35mm f2.0, 200 iso, 1/500s, f 8
- Photo taken at Husavik. Nikon D4, Hasselblad 80mm, 50 iso, 1/250s, f 8
We're lucky, and that day at Husavik, the bay is full of playful whales. So much so, that it's hard to remember to photograph anything else. But we want to capture the light and landscape that surround us too.
Nikon D3s, Hasselblad 80mm, 200 iso, 1/1250s, f4
The advantage of the Gitzo Ocean is that we can also use it in the water when photographing, which turns out to be really useful to me at the Godafoss waterfalls. I swear, not a single pixel was changed in post-production, and I'd even be prepared to show you the RAW file to prove it! The key here was getting the perfect exposure in the few minutes before the dusk light was too weak. Set white balance to tungsten with a dark grey neutral density filter to help catch the movement of the water… Try it yourselves!
- Nikon D4, 20mm, 100 iso, 30s, f9 with ND filter
On the return journey from the falls, once again the evening gives us an unforgettable sunset, ideal for a few shots with the panoramic head (Nikon D4, Hasselblad 50mm f4, 100 iso, 1/60s, f4).
And now here we are at the piece de resistance of the trip, both for the difficulty of reaching our destination, and for the fantastic landscape in front of us: a vast lava desert, where bright blue streams contrast with the black land and the yellow-orange hills that surround us. After 4 hours, we reach one of the most remote areas of the country: the crater of the Askja volcano. It's unimaginable for anyone who hasn't seen it.
- Nikon D4, 20mm, 50 iso, 1/30s, f 22 eNikon D4, Hasselblad 50mm f4, 50 iso, 1/125 f 8
We take to the road again and head for the huge Vatnajökull glacier, at the foot of which extends a lagoon of icebergs. Everything seems to be in slow motion here, and the silence is only fractured every so often by the huge blocks of ice that break off and fall, letting us see the beautiful blue-green colour of the ice below. In the same national park we photograph Svartifoss, the waterfall that crashes down from the top of a basalt mountain.
- Nikon D4, 20mm, 50 iso, 10s, f 11, ND filter
Our journey draws to an end in Geysir, where we capture the huge bubble and steam of Iceland's largest geyser.
- Nikon D3s, Hasselblad 80mm, 400iso, 1/1000 f 2,8