Iceland in 16 Days: Day 8, North Iceland, Husavik, Whale Watching

When you watch sunrise and sunset in Icelandic summer (actually in the reverse order), then go to bed at 3:00 or 4:00 AM  it’s hard to know how to say what “day” images were taken.  Nearly all of the images in our 16-day trip were taken between 10:00 PM and 4:00 AM, definitely not hours most are used to.

If you go on a tour, you will hardly ever be in the right place at the right time for the best photography. It depends on what your goals are. Guided tours may be right for many people, not us.

Feature Image: Canon EOS 6D, Canon 100-400 MM F 4.5-5.6 L Lens at 400MM, 1/2000 second ISO 500, F6.3

Image stabilization: On (Please remember to turn off image stabilization when using a tripod!)

Out of several thousand pictures, I kept one series of 3 images. The other two in this series were of the splash.

I made lots of mistakes. What would I do different?

I would have used a higher ISO, say 2000 providing much more depth of field. In this case, focus was slightly off, just ahead of the whale, on the water. Depth of field was sufficient to keep the whale sharp.

I did not have any other images that were sharp, out of literally thousands.

Two other factors entered into play: I was in control of time (choice of tours), but could do nothing at the time about the equipment I had with me (autofocus capability). I discuss both below.

Whale Tours

There are many whale tour operators in Husavik. They are all professional and reliable. The key choice is whether to go out on a larger but slower ship, or a faster raft-like operation that holds a ten people or so. I selected the latter.

The rafts are much faster and can get to the whale areas sooner. They also maneuver much easier. If you want to see the most whales, the rafts are a better choice. However, the rafts provides a poor shooting platform. If I had to do this over again, I would  take the larger ships where you can stand up, move around, and have a much better shooting platform.

That said, I am very pleased with the feature shot. I would rather have one great image than one hundred good ones.

Would I have done better from a ship? Since I like this image, probably not, but I would not select a raft again.

For the best light, get on the last trip of the day.


The EOS 6D is a very good camera but its autofocus technology is old, and slow compared to Canon’s newest offerings. This certainly did not help on a raft bouncing in the waves.

My backup is a Canon 5D mark II. The latter cost more, and has more pixels. However, the 6D has better noise reduction in shadow areas, and better dynamic range. The 6D is a better camera for most of my shooting.

Canon’s EOS 5D Mark III was not a sufficient improvement over my 6D to warrant purchase.

Buy List

Canon’s EOS 5D Mark IV provides nearly everything I want: better noise reduction, better dynamic range, much better autofocusing, better video capability, and 50% more pixels than my EOS 6D.

Technology constantly leap-frogs. In some respects, notably noise reduction, Canon barely caught up with Nikon and not quite to Sony. But in autofocus, video, and still images captured from video, Canon is ahead.

George Lepp at Outdoor Photographer did a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Review on November 29, 2016. I have been reading George Lepp and Outdoor Photographer for decades and recommend a subscription to Outdoor Photographer.

Also see an excellent EOS 5 Review by Jim M. Goldstein at JMG Galleries.

See My Equipment List for other equipment and a word about B&H.


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Up Next: Moonset Over Husavik Harbor

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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