Nearly 4 years ago I remember seeing an image online of some Ice being surrounded by a rushing wave on a black beach. I quickly found out that the location was Jökulsárlón in Iceland.
Iceland had never been on my radar for places to visit. Since becoming addicted to landscapes you quickly find out that Iceland is defiantly a must destination for any photographer to visit let alone landscape photographers.
So my key objective since seeing that image was to get myself to Iceland and experience the beautiful landscape it has in abundance.
The ever changing weather conditions and harsh prehistoric mountains and landscape with a mix of fire & ice makes this place a truly remarkable sight you think only existed in dreams.
When my good friend Mark Price, photographer and fellow Instagram buddy contacted me to ask if I wanted to go with him, Ben Green and Jonny Joyce to Iceland for 10 days in a camper van, clearly my reply was urm okay sounds like fun…. YES PLEASE!!!! 😉
To make my journey that little bit better, I knew I needed the right equipment and I was lucky enough to take with me on my 10 day trip to Iceland a Manfrotto Pro Light Camera Backpack, a Manfrotto 190 Go Aluminum Tripod and Manfrotto 498RC2 Ball Head.
Bruarfoss Waterfall, Iceland. Manfrotto Pro Light Camera Backpack & Manfrotto 190 Go Aluminum Tripod with the Manfrotto 498RC2 Ball Head
On receiving the backpack, you know it’s Manfrotto as it had it’s distinctive and elegant design look about it. If there is one thing Manfrotto get right every time and that is it’s design look.
I also had my Aluminum 190 tripod with me and the same 498RC2 Ball Head which is the tripod and Ball Head I use most of the time.
The backpack was perfect for what I needed. It held pretty much all my equipment, including:
Canon 5D MK III
Canon 100mm Macro
15″ MacBook Pro & Charging Cable
Manfrotto 190 Go Aluminum Tripod
GoPro Hero 4 Black, Remote and 4 GoPro Batteries
12 Canon Batteries
Lucroit Filter Holder
Hitech Reverse Filter
Hitech Soft Grad
Hitech Firecrest IRND
Hitech Prostop 6 IR
Lee Filter Holder
Lee 1 x Big Stopper
Lee 3 x Hard Grads
So as you can see quite a lot to carry. I took all this on the plane as hand luggage. It was very heavy but the backpack felt like it was up for the task.
This backpack was one of the best bags I’ve worn. Comfortable and easy to use. The waist band is a must when the bag is heavy especially if your walking all the time, it definitely helped distribute the weight from off your shoulders. Also make sure you tuck all loose adjustment straps away, if you don’t, when its windy (like it is in Iceland) you may get loose straps flicking up into your face (I learnt a harsh lesson there…Ouch).
I loved how the shoulder straps can be tucked away behind the back cushioned area to prevent snagging when storing the bag in tight spaces such as overhead luggage compartments.
You can also remove one of the shoulder straps to have just one going diagonally across your chest, perfect for when the backpack is a lot lighter.
I liked the top compartment. I put my filters in this compartment as it was easy and quick to access. I also put my holders and remote in here as well. However I did think the top part of that compartment would of given me more confidence if it was made with a more rigid shell for better protection. Similar to the Manfrotto Professional Backpack.
The backpack also came with its own waterproof bag which was perfect for protection in inclement weather and huge amounts of spray coming from the waterfalls.
It was perfect to carry my tripod in it’s carrying case. Again easy to remove and get to, for those moments you need to set up quick before the light fades.
All in all It’s a great little tripod to take on mini adventures, strong, reliable, compact, perfect for outdoors and those photographers that have a reasonable amount of gear. I will definitely be using this bag time and time again.
When I’m out exploring looking for that perfect shot, I’m always looking for great compositions. I believe if you get the composition right then your half way their in creating a nice looking image. Now you just have to wait for the right light, conditions and make sure what your shooting is interesting.
My settings were: Aperture: f/16 | Exposure: 0.5 Seconds | Focal Length: 24mm | ISO: 100 | Hitech 0.9 Soft Grad | Edited in Lightroom 5
Here is the fascinating rock at Hveritserkur, Vatnsnes peninsula, in northwest Iceland. Hveritserkur is a stunning rock formation on the beach. The rock has two holes at the base, which give it the appearance of a dragon who is drinking.
My thinking about the composition was to make the rock formation my central focal point and then to use the sand as the foreground. The ripples within the sand made it very interesting to look at as the pattern that nature created was so beautiful as it lead you towards the rock with the streams of sea water leading you there too as the tide went out.
After setting up here for sunrise we had a snow storm hit. I guess photography is about adapting to changing conditions and that goes without saying whilst in Iceland. So I sheltered the camera from the storm and quickly shot a few images before packing the camera away until the storm passed.
My Camera set up with Lucroit filter holder & Hitech 0.9 Soft Grad at Hveritserkur, Iceland
I highly recommend if you go to Iceland that you comprise a list of locations you would like to visit. We had a rough guide of places we wanted to visit and this was also extended after our friend and super talented photographer Stian Klo from Lofoten Tours helped add locations he knew we would have liked.
First on our list was Kirkjufell. Kirkjufell is a 463m high mountain on the north coast of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes peninsula, near the town of Grundarfjörður. It’s a well photographed location but looks different every time due to the ever changing weather in Iceland.
We just about made it to Kirkjufell in time for sunset. We pulled up into the carpark and we ran (fast walk) with our tripods, cameras and backpacks to the top of the hill as the light was fading fast. WOW that nearly killed me even Usain Bolt would of struggled lol.
One of the best comps is over looking a waterfall with Kirkjufell in the background.
Kirkjufell, Iceland. Day 1
My settings were: | Aperture: f/14 | Exposure: 6 Seconds | Focal Length: 24mm | ISO: 100 | Edited in Lightroom 5
So once I recovered from running up this hill. Well I’m telling a lie their, I actually didn’t recover until the following morning haha.
I had to think what was going to be my main focal point, for me it was the mountain Kirkjufell. The widest lens I have is 24mm so I had to make sure I made the most of my composition.
Once I was set up, I knew I wanted to do a slight long exposure to capture the movement in the water. I knew 2-8 seconds would be sufficient in this light without any dark ND filters and I would be able to get away with using just lighter filters. I didn’t want to expose any longer than 8 seconds as that would mean applying more filters and then your fighting darker exposures and the likelihood of noisy images (Grainy Images).
So my Manfrotto 190 Series tripod was set up, camera attached, 24-105mm lens fitted, remote inserted, my Lucroit filter holder fitted to my lens with my Lee 0.3 hard graduated filter fitted and pulled all the way down to act as a full 0.3 filter and stacked with my Formatt Hitech Neutral Density (ND) 0.9 Soft Graduated Filter which was positioned over the clouds to the tip of the mountain as this was the brightest part in my image and I wanted to prevent a blown out sky (completely white).
Even though the mountain is the main focal point I actually manually focussed on the ground just on the other side of the waterfall.
My settings were: | Aperture: f/14 | Exposure: 6 Seconds | Focal Length: 24mm | ISO: 100 | Edited in Lightroom 5
I always take 3-6 different exposures to hopefully capture the right exposure. The image may look ok on the screen on your camera but that is known to lie A LOT!!! It helps to check your histogram to see how your exposure looks. The graph will give you a better idea at how much exposure you need for your next shot. i.e. more or less exposure. Check out this link to understand your histogram. Also remember if the light is fading your exposure will have to increase and the opposite for sunrise. If it’s getting brighter your exposure will need to be shorter.
I was happy with the results I was achieving and we called it a night and headed somewhere to park up and stay the night.
The Next day it had snowed over night and this meant the landscape had changed a lot. We knew we had to revisit Kirkjufell before we headed off to another part of the island.
Kirkjufell, Iceland. Day 2
I wanted to show you this as it was great example to showcase how weather conditions change all the time but as photographers thats great as you can create more content from one location within 48 hours.
My Setup Kirkjufell, Iceland. Day 2
Same set up as the day before but with a 0.9 hard grad pulled all the way down with the 0.9 Hitech soft grad placed over the clouds to the tip of the mountain. Slightly different settings due to the light being brighter.
My settings were: | Aperture: f/18 | Exposure: 16 Seconds | Focal Length: 24mm | ISO: 100 | Edited in Lightroom 5
Without a doubt one of my favourite places I shot in Iceland was Arnarstapi. This place totally blew my mind. I’m a lover of all things dramatic especially within a landscape.
When we arrived at Arnarstapi a storm was out at sea which set the mood for some awesome drama within our shots. We arrived late (AGAIN) for sunset so their was no time to loose as we sprinted to the cliff edge in search of that perfect composition.
We all separated along the cliff as we all didn’t want to have to flex muscles to claim the best composition and pushing others out the way lol.
I headed on further down the cliff and glad I did as the view to this day still amazes me.
The dramatic cliffs and dark sky’s made the image look like something from a scene straight out of the series Game of Thrones or the film Lord of the Rings.
My settings were: | Aperture: f/14 | Exposure: 2 Seconds | Focal Length: 24mm | ISO: 100 | Edited in Lightroom 5
Because my widest lens is 24mm I had to make sure my comp captured the drama that was unfolding. I made sure my comp captured the clouds as they held so much drama. I also positioned the frame to capture the edge of the cliff I was standing on to add the element of danger to the shot. The sea and the cliff face added everything else with ease.
I wanted to capture a short long exposure as it makes the waves look like they’re moving within the shot. You need to capture this right as it can make a difference at which stage the wave is at when you start the long exposure. Multiple shots will need to be taken to make sure you have a variety.
I used the similar techniques I used previously at Kirkjufell. 0.3 hard grad pulled all the way down with the 0.9 Hitech soft grad placed over the clouds to darken the sky even more.
Last but not least I have to show you my image of an image that inspired me nearly 4 years ago on Jökulsárlón beach. The weather was very windy and the waves were fierce and unpredictable. You definitely had to have your wits about you however this didn’t stop me enjoying every bit of it. At that moment in time I felt like the luckiest man in the world and very proud to be a photographer fulfilling my dream.
My settings were: | Aperture: f/4 | Exposure: 1.8 Seconds | Focal Length: 28mm | ISO: 640 | Edited in Lightroom 5
To capture this shot of the Ice I had a Formatt Hitech Firecrest IRND ND3.0 stacked with Formatt Hitech Neutral Density (ND) 0.9 Soft Graduated Filter.
It did make it rather dark and in hindsight I probably would of changed this setup to not be as dark with the filters on. The wind was that bad I had to make sure once I setup, I wouldn’t change it or not as often as it’s difficult to do when the winds are as strong as they were.
Because it was quite dark with the filters on, I made my aperture as wide as it could go f/4 and changed my ISO to 640. This looked like it was good enough to do what I wanted to do.
The end results came out a little noisy than I wanted but overall I was still very happy with it.
Just means I need to go back and do it all again after learning from this experience lol 😉
Thank you all for reading and I hope this has inspired you to visit Iceland. For more images or information about my trip to Iceland please visit my website.
May my adventures continue …