Iceland in 16 Days: Day 15, Gullfoss Waterfall, Golden Circle

After a good night’s sleep in Reykavik, one of about three good sleeps for the entire trip, we set off for a tour of the “Golden Circle”.

It was cloudy when we set out, and stayed cloudy most of the time. We went to see the geysers at Geysir, and had lunch there. Geysir was overloaded with tourists. Masses of buses  constantly came an went. Mid-day is not a great time for photography, and crowds made it worse.

Still, Geysir is worth seeing, especially in good light at off-peak hours. Good conditions were not to be on this trip so we headed off to nearby Gullfoss.

When we arrived it was still overcast, but a scan of the horizon suggested the clouds might break if we simply waited it out. That took a couple of hours and these are the results.

Feature Image Details: Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 35MM, F/16, ISO 100 for 1/2 second.

Spray

Once again, spray was a huge problem. Carry lens wipes.

Shooting Tips

I like to take vertical and horizontal images of the same scene. If you have hopes of magazine covers, it’s best to consider vertical images. Here are some of my Magazine and Book Cover Credits.

Also consider people. Do you want them in or out. Here is the same image, two ways, with and without people.

The only difference in the above images is people. The first image has them, the second doesn’t. The people did not move. Rather, I edited them out in Photoshop, via a bridge from Lightroom.

Photoshop tools are much better at editing out distractions than Lightroom. Most often I use Photoshop’s clone align feature. Lightroom has nothing similar. At times, especially for small spot corrections, Lightroom is easier.

Both programs compliment each other nicely, but it’s irritating having to learn two products and two sets of commands.

Forced to make a choice between Lightroom and Photoshop, I would choose the former. Lightroom’s catalog and library functions are essential.

Pretty soon it may be impossible to make a choice. Adobe wants subscribers to “Creative Cloud” and bundles all of its programs in that package.

Human Interest

Travel magazines generally like human interest. People also add a sense of scale. But calendar companies most likely do not want people in the images.

If shooting and editing for yourself, simply shoot and edit what you like.

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Next Up: Brúarfoss Waterfall, Golden Circle

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 14, Reykjavik Harpa Concert Hall

We stayed in Reykjavik for three nights, and actually managed to get some sleep on one of the nights. Tonight was the night.

On our first day in Reykjavik, we did some touristy stuff downtown and went to a karaoke bar in the evening.

Reykjavik was cloudy all day, and that was good light for photographing the interior of the Harpa Concert Hall. It’s an amazing building with lots of interesting angles.

Feature Image Details: Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 22MM, F/16, ISO 100 for 1/20 second.

Here is another set of images from inside the building.

The first image above was taken with a Canon 24MM Tilt-Shift lens. It was perfect for this location. The second image was taken with a Canon 16-35MM F4 L lens at 26MM.

If considering Tilt-Shift lenses, I highly recommend a philosophy of the wider the better. Canon makes 17MM, 24MM, 45MM, and 90MM. For architectural purposes, go with the 17MM Tilt-Shift Lens. I have another Tilt-Shift example coming up, from the last day of our trip.

Reykjavik is a beautiful city. How many days you spend there is simply a matter of taste. For suggestions, please see my free Iceland Guide regarding what to bring, where to go, what to do, where to stay, what to expect in each location, and what literature to read before your trip.

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Next Up: Gullfoss Waterfall, Golden Circle

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 13, Snæfellsnes Peninsula Glowing Fog

After photographing Kirkjufell Mountain, we were off to our hotel in Stykkishólmur for the night.

As was typically the case on this trip, sleep had to wait as another photographic opportunity arose.

Feature Image Details: Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 35MM, F/10 for 1/15 second at ISO 100

Here is a second image from the same Location.

snaefellsnes-peninsula-iceland-glowing-fog-west-region-3

Our trip was winding down. We had but three days left.

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Next Up: Reykavik and the “Golden Circle”.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 13, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Kirkjufell Mountain

Shortly after leaving Breiðavík wehre the wind had been surprisingly calm at night and the next morning, the wind started howling. It was very windy when we caught the ferry in Brjánslækur. And it was windy and cloudy when we arrived in Stykkishólmur. Howling is more like it, at about 40 miles per hour.

The weather was not that conducive for photography, so we decided to tour the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Towards sunset, the wind stopped blowing as hard, and there were some breaks in the clouds. We waited at Kirkjufell Mountain hoping for some decent light at sunset and were rewarded.

Feature Image Details: Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 20MM, F/13, ISO 100 1/5 second

Here is a second shot of the lower falls.

snaefellsnes-peninsula-kirkjufell-mountain-iceland-west-region-11

There is much to do and see on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, but we allowed a single night.

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Next Up: Snæfellsnes Peninsula Glowing Fog

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 12, Westfjords, Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs, Breiðavík, Razorbills

Puffins are the star attraction at Látrabjarg, but the razorbills also put on a very fine display.

Wikipedia notes “The razorbill (Alca torda) is a colonial seabird that only comes to land in order to breed. This agile bird chooses one partner for life; females lay one egg per year. Razorbills nest along coastal cliffs in enclosed or slightly exposed crevices. The parents spend equal amounts of time incubating. Once the chick has hatched, the parents take turns foraging for their young and sometimes fly long distances before finding prey.”

Feature Image Details: Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 105MM, F/11, ISO 640 for 1/2000 second.

Razorbill Slide Show

Click on any image to play a slideshow.

I used high ISOs and fast shutter speeds to freeze the movements in the wings. Choice of shutter speed is a tradeoff between depth of field and wing blur.

We only allotted a single day at Breiðavík. Odds of getting warm weather, beautiful light, with no wind was not that good. Breiðavík is frequently rainy and windy, but we were blessed with a perfect day.

In my Iceland Guide I recommend spending another day at this location. Realistically one could easily spend several days. There are other things in the area to see and do, but the bird cliffs are the main attraction.

For puffin images, please see Iceland in 16 Days: Day 12, Westfjords, Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs, Breiðavík, Puffins

I highly recommend taking the Taking the ferry between Stykkishólmur and Brjánslækur to get to or from the cliffs on a circle tour. The ferry will save several hours of travel time. Reservations advised. Allow a couple of hours travel time from Brjánslækur to Breiðavík.

I did not want to leave Látrabjarg in the morning, but we had no choice. Our ferry left Brjánslækur at noon.

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Next Up: Ferry ride to Stykkishólmur, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Kirkjufell Mountain

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 12, Westfjords, Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs, Breiðavík, Puffins

After leaving Ísafjörður, we headed to our next stop, the Látrabjarg bird cliffs in Breiðavík. It’s quite a long drive over mountain passes and by waterfalls.

Before heading anywhere in Iceland, but especially the West Fjords, make sure you have a full tank of gas.

We got a late start and did not arrive in Breiðavík until 9:00PM or so. We had a very nice dinner at the Breidavik Guesthouse, which is precisely where you want to stay to photograph the bird cliffs.

We saw puffins at other locations in Iceland, but no other location comes close to the Látrabjarg experience. One can get within a couple of feet of amazing birds simply by approaching low and slow. The birds are used to humans.

Feature Image Details: Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 58MM, F/6.3 , ISO 2000, 1/1250 Second

Puffin Gallery

Click on any image to start a slideshow.

Puffins nest in burrows they dig in the sides of the cliffs. One image shows nesting material in a puffin’s beak. The young puffins had not yet hatched so we had no chance to get images of the birds with fish in their beaks, feeding the young puffins.

Many photographers used long lenses. That approach is good for taking full-frame portraits, but I went for a wide-angle closeup look instead. The latter approach give more of a feeling of the high cliff these birds were on. If you fall over the edge here, it will be the last trip you take alive.

I never felt unsafe, but to minimize risk, lay on the ground and creep up on the bids slowly. Once the puffins get used to you, they ignore you or in some cases, seem to want to put on a display.

I used relatively high ISOs and fast shutter speeds to freeze the movements in the wings. Choice of shutter speed is a tradeoff between depth of field and wing blur.

We only allotted a single day at Breiðavík. Odds of getting warm weather, beautiful light, with no wind was not that good. Breiðavík is frequently rainy and windy, but we were blessed with a perfect day.

In my Iceland Guide I recommend spending another day at this location. Realistically one could easily spend several days. There are other things in the area to see and do, but the bird cliffs are the main attraction.

I highly recommend taking the Taking the ferry between Stykkishólmur and Brjánslækur to get to or from the cliffs on a circle tour. The ferry will save several hours of travel time. Reservations advised.

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Next Up: Razorbills at the Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs in Breiðavík.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 11, Westfjords, Ísafjörður Sunrise

I took the feature image right from the parking lot at the Hotel Edda in Ísafjörður at about 3:30AM, shortly after sunrise.

I was extremely tired but there was no way I could pass up a shot like this.

Image Details: Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 28MM, F/10, 1/15th second at ISO 100

The only key to this image was to be up at 3:30 AM instead of being in bed.

It was a long winding travel in the Westfjords to get to this location. We would only get a few hours sleep before having to move on.

Also see …

  1. Iceland in 16 Days: Day 10, Westfjords, Kelp on Rocky Shore Near Ísafjörður
  2. Iceland in 16 Days: Day 10, Westfjords, Hólmavík

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Next Up: Puffins at the Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs in Breiðavík.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock