Iceland – Svartifoss Waterfall – Vatnajökull National Park

In March of 2017 my wife Liz and I went Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) hunting in Iceland. It’s a popular destination for chasing the Northern Lights hunting, but the results are often mixed. I posted several Northern lights images (links below), but we only had one great nighttime excursion.

The rest of the trip was by no means a bust. Please take a chance.

This location is the Svartifoss Waterfall featuring basalt columns of volcanic rock.

The hike is 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles), each way, from the visitor center, uphill. On the way to Svartifoss, you come across other waterfalls in the gorge. Svartifoss cannot be seen from the road and the hike up to it takes some 90 minutes back and forth with photo stops.

We got lucky. It was cloudy and rainy when we started the hike. The clouds broke for about 15 minutes as we reached the top.

Feature Image Details

For the featured image, I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 28mm for 0.8 seconds at F16.

Anyone with a tripod and reasonable technique could get this shot. The two keys are a tripod and reasonable technique. You need a tripod because you cannot hand hold for anywhere close to a second. Yet, if you do not force the shutter open that long, you cannot get smooth, silky water.

Closeup Detail

For the above shot, I was well off the trail, where I was not supposed to be.

My wife Liz, of saner mind, was not with me. The feature image was taken from the trail or at least reasonably close.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

Iceland Aurora Images

  1. Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Búðir
  2. Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Búdir, Búdakirkja Church
  3. Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsjökull National Park, Malarrif Lighthouse

Iceland is a fabulous destination. I have an entire series called Iceland in 16 days.

Scroll through my Mish Moments Home Page until you find them. I discuss where to go, where to stay, and what to see. I also have photo tips on many of the best locations.,

Interested in visiting Iceland?

Please see my Iceland Guide. It lists our complete itinerary for a 16-day summer solstice trip.

Please Subscribe: Click to Subscribe by Email.

If you like this article, please share by email or use one of the share buttons beneath the article.

You can also follow me on Twitter! I have both an economic forum and a photography forum.

  1. Photography: MishMoments
  2. Economics: MishGEA

MishMoments is a subset of MishGEA. Those interested in photography only should follow MishMoments.

Please follow. I do not give away or share email addresses!

Thanks!

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsjökull National Park, Malarrif Lighthouse

In March of 2017 my wife Liz and I went Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) hunting in Iceland. It’s a popular destination for chasing the Northern Lights hunting, but the results are often mixed. We were in Iceland for 8 days but only saw the lights twice, and only one of those was particularly memorable. Iceland can be cloudy for a week, and unless it’s a clear night, you just will not see them.

We caught a fabulous display on our second to last day in Iceland. We stayed at the Budir Hótel which I highly recommend. The Hotel is just two hours drive from Reykjavik. It’s situated on a lava field next to the ocean and there are plenty of sightseeing activities in the area.

The Malarrif Lighthouse is in Snæfellsjökull National Park, located just a short walk from the National Park’s visitor center.

Feature Image Details

For these images, I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens: If I had to pick one lens and one lens only, this lens would be at the top of the list.

These shots were all taken at 16mm for 13 seconds at ISO 2500.

Exposure

It might not look like it but I underexposed the Northern Lights images. It is very easy to do at night. The display viewfinder looks good, but it isn’t. Trust the histogram, now what your eyes see.

I could have used at least one more stop of light on these shots. Instead of 13 seconds, I should have done 20 seconds.

Underexposed images looked really blotchy but I used Topaz Labs Denoise to smooth out the colors. The tradeoff was a loss of sharpness.

For these kinds of images, one needs to adjust the shadows and highlights negative. Otherwise, you will lose stars.

Night Rule

The longest exposure you can take without stars trailing (looking like streaks instead of pinpoints is governed by this equation.

  • ET = 400/FL
  • ET = seconds
  • 400 is a constant by observation
  • FL is the focal length used in mm

In this case, I was at 16 mm so I could have gone about 25 seconds. That would have really brought out the shadow details much better. Also, I could have bumped the ISO a bit, to say 3200. A combination of 20-25 seconds at ISO 3200 would have been about right.

Obviously, you need a tripod for this.

Long exposures at night are typically not extremely sharp (think wind, moving lights, very dark shadows, etc). Northern Lights are also moving. If they are moving fast, and the exposure is too long you will get a blurry mess. Thus, there was merit in attempting to keep the exposure time down.

A faster lens can help, but that is at the cost of depth of field. Everything is a tradeoff.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

Iceland Aurora Images

  1. Please see Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Búðir for shots taken right on the hotel property.
  2. Also see Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Búdir, Búdakirkja Church

Iceland is a fabulous destination. I have an entire series called Iceland in 16 days.

Scroll through my Mish Moments Home Page until you find them. I discuss where to go, where to stay, and what to see. I also have photo tips on many of the best locations.,

Interested in visiting Iceland?

Please see my Iceland Guide. It lists our complete itinerary for a 16-day summer solstice trip.

Please Subscribe: Click to Subscribe by Email.

If you like this article, please share by email or use one of the share buttons beneath the article.

You can also follow me on Twitter! I have both an economic forum and a photography forum.

  1. Photography: MishMoments
  2. Economics: MishGEA

MishMoments is a subset of MishGEA. Those interested in photography only should follow MishMoments.

Please follow. I do not give away or share email addresses!

Thanks!

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Búdir, Búdakirkja Church

In March of 2017 my wife Liz and I went Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) hunting in Iceland. It’s a popular destination for chasing the Northern Lights hunting, but the results are often mixed. We were in Iceland for 8 days but only saw the lights twice, and only one of those was particularly memorable. Iceland can be cloudy for a week, and unless it’s a clear night, you just will not see them.

We caught a fabulous display on our second to last day in Iceland. We stayed at the Hótel Búðir which I highly recommend. The Hotel is just two hours drive from Reykjavik. It’s situated on a lava field next to the ocean and there are plenty of sightseeing activities in the area.

The Búðakirkja Church, sometimes called theBúdir Church is just as short, even walkable, distance from the hotel.

Feature Image Details

For these images, I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens: If I had to pick one lens and one lens only, this lens would be at the top of the list. I see things from a wide angle perspective. There is an entrance gate that detracts from the image that I edited out in Photoshop. It is between the highest rock walls on the very far right. You can see it in the images below. If I stood a bit further to the left, that would not have been necessary.

The exposure on most of these shots was 13 seconds at F4.5 at 24mm, ISO 2500.

 

A Peek Inside

The church is locked. I took that image through a church window, similar to the one you see on the opposite side, after clearing off all the smudges with lens cleaning tissues. It is an HDR blend of multiple exposures blended together in Lightroom and Photoshop. To take this image, the lens of my camera was right on the window, and I do mean that literally. If you break the window attempting this, don’t blame me. That shot was at 28mm.

Front Lock

Church Details

The sign says the first church was built there in 1703 by Bendt Laurdisen. It was later demolished and rebuilt. In 1816 the parish was abolished and the church was dismantled. One of the ladies of the parish fought strongly for a new church and eventually received a royal permission to build a new one, which stood ready in 1848. In 1987, it was reconstructed and consecrated the same year. Among the valuable possessions of the church are a bell from 1672, an altarpiece from 1750, an old silver chalice, two messing candlesticks from 1767, and a door ring from 1703.

A closeup look at the door ring image in my shot above says “1951”. Perhaps that is a replica of the 1703 door ring.

Exposure

It might not look like it but I underexposed the Northern Lights images. It is very easy to do at night. The display viewfinder looks good, but it isn’t. Trust the histogram, now what your eyes see.

I could have used at least one more stop of light on these shots. Instead of 13 seconds, I should have done 20 seconds.

Underexposed images looked really blotchy but I used Topaz Labs Denoise to smooth out the colors. The tradeoff was a loss of sharpness.

For these kinds of images, one needs to adjust the shadows and highlights negative. Otherwise, you will lose stars.

Night Rule

The longest exposure you can take without stars trailing (looking like streaks instead of pinpoints is governed by this equation.

  • ET = 400/FL
  • ET = seconds
  • 400 is a constant by observation
  • FL is the focal length used in mm

In this case, I was at 16 mm so I could have gone about 25 seconds. That would have really brought out the shadow details much better. Also, I could have bumped the ISO a bit, to say 3200. A combination of 20-25 seconds at ISO 3200 would have been about right.

Obviously, you need a tripod for this.

Long exposures at night are typically not extremely sharp (think wind, moving lights, very dark shadows, etc). Northern Lights are also moving. If they are moving fast, and the exposure is too long you will get a blurry mess. Thus, there was merit in attempting to keep the exposure time down.

A faster lens can help, but that is at the cost of depth of field. Everything is a tradeoff.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

Iceland

Please also see Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Búðir for shots taken right on the hotel property.

Iceland is a fabulous destination. I have an entire series called Iceland in 16 days.

Scroll through my Mish Moments Home Page until you find them. I discuss where to go, where to stay, and what to see. I also have photo tips on many of the best locations.,

Interested in visiting Iceland?

Please see my Iceland Guide. It lists our complete itinerary for a 16-day summer solstice trip.

Please Subscribe: Click to Subscribe by Email.

If you like this article, please share by email or use one of the share buttons beneath the article.

You can also follow me on Twitter! I have both an economic forum and a photography forum.

  1. Photography: MishMoments
  2. Economics: MishGEA

MishMoments is a subset of MishGEA. Those interested in photography only should follow MishMoments.

Please follow. I do not give away or share email addresses!

Thanks!

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Búðir

In March of 2017 my wife Liz and I went Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) hunting in Iceland. It’s a popular destination for chasing the Northern Lights hunting, but the results are often mixed. We were in Iceland for 8 days but only saw the lights twice, and only one of those was particularly memorable. Iceland can be cloudy for a week, and unless it’s a clear night, you just will not see them.

We caught a fabulous display on our second to last day in Iceland. We stayed at the Hótel Búðir which I highly recommend. The Hotel is just two hours drive from Reykjavik. It’s situated on a lava field next to the ocean and there are plenty of sightseeing activities in the area.

All of these shots were taken right on the hotel property.

Feature Image Details

For these images, I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens: If I had to pick one lens and one lens only, this lens would be at the top of the list. I see things from a wide angle perspective.

The exposure on most of these shots was 13 seconds at F4.5 at 16mm, ISO 2500.

 

In the image immediately above, you should be able to spot the constellation Orion on the lower left (it is setting). Also, see if you can find the Big Dipper in the upper right. In the feature image the bright light above the volcanic cone is the setting crescent moon.

It might not look like it but I brutally underexposed all of these images. It is very easy to do at night. The display viewfinder looks good, but it isn’t. Trust the histogram, now what your eyes see.

I could have used at least one more stop of light on these shots. Instead of 13 seconds, I should have done 20 seconds.

Night Rule

The longest exposure you can take without stars trailing (looking like streaks instead of pinpoints is governed by this equation.

  • ET = 400/FL
  • ET = seconds
  • 400 is a constant by observation
  • FL is the focal length used in mm

In this case, I was at 16 mm so I could have gone about 25 seconds. That would have really brought out the shadow details much better. Also, I could have bumped the ISO a bit, to say 3200. A combination of 20-25 seconds at ISO 3200 would have been about right.

Obviously, you need a tripod for this.

Underexposed images looked really blotchy but I used Topaz Labs Denoise to smooth out the colors. The tradeoff is a loss of sharpness.

Long exposures at night are typically not extremely sharp (think wind, moving lights, very dark shadows, etc). Northern Lights are also moving. If they are moving fast, and the exposure is too long you will get a blurry mess. Thus, there was merit in attempting to keep the exposure time down.

A faster lens can help, but that is at the cost of depth of field. Everything is a tradeoff.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

Iceland

Iceland is a fabulous destination. I have an entire series called Iceland in 16 days.

Scroll through my Mish Moments Home Page until you find them. I discuss where to go, where to stay, and what to see. I also have photo tips on many of the best locations.,

Interested in visiting Iceland?

Please see my Iceland Guide. It lists our complete itinerary for a 16-day summer solstice trip.

Please Subscribe: Click to Subscribe by Email.

If you like this article, please share by email or use one of the share buttons beneath the article.

You can also follow me on Twitter! I have both an economic forum and a photography forum.

  1. Photography: MishMoments
  2. Economics: MishGEA

MishMoments is a subset of MishGEA. Those interested in photography only should follow MishMoments.

Please follow. I do not give away or share email addresses!

Thanks!

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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

On our way from the Reykavik Sun Voyager Statue at 3:30 AM for the hotel and a 10:30 AM flight, I had to pull over a second time to take images of the Harpa Concert Hall.

Feature Image Details: Canon 24MM Tilt-Shift Lens, F/16, 1/40th of a second.

The sky was on fire. Here is a second image of the concert hall, from closer in.

harpa-concert-hall-reykjavik-iceland-108

24MM was just not wide enough to bring in the entire image. I was standing on a concrete pillar away from the building as high as I could get to minimize the need to shift.

Even though the building was obscurely designed with weird angles (on purpose), pointing a wider lens up to bring in the top would have distorted the rest of the image in an observable manner. In retrospect, I might have tried taking a second image of just the top of the building and blending the images in more of a 4×3 format instead of 3×2.

A still better idea would have been to use a 17MM Tilt-Shift Lens instead of a 24MM tilt-shift lens. I now have both, I didn’t then. If your decision is between the two, get the 17MM lens. It’s far easier to crop an image than it is to add what isn’t there.

The feature image was taken at 4:30 AM. Our flight was 10:30 AM. We only got a couple hours sleep, but these images were well worth the cost of no sleep.

I hope I have convinced you to take a trip to Iceland. We are going back.

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Next Up: Back to the US, Freckles the Cat.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 16, Reykjavik Sun Voyager Statue

This was our final day in Iceland. We were out past midnight at the Brúarfoss Waterfall on the Golden Circle, the day before our 10:30AM flight back to the US.

On the way back to the hotel, we passed the Sun Voyager statue. When we passed the statue, the sky was gray, but there were interesting clouds. There was also a hole on the horizon. This was a perfect setup.

No better conditions exist than a break in the clouds on the horizon, with lots of clouds above. There was no guarantee the sun would hit a hole on the horizon. The clouds may have dissipated, moved, or completely blocked up.

As tired as I was, and despite a morning flight, I had to pull over and wait. The wait was worth it.

Feature Image Details:Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 20MM, F/11, ISO 100 for 1/5 second

I took other angles but liked the angle of the sun reflecting off the Sun Voyager statue the best. Here is a Sun Voyager slideshow. Click on any image to play.

Notice the break in the clouds on the horizon. The sky was gray but I noticed the break and pulled over hoping the break would last and it did. After finishing these shots, it was 3:30 AM, and we had a 10:30 AM flight.

Off to bed? Perish the thought. There’s still time left.

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Next Up: Reykavik Harpa Concert Hall Sunrise

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 15, Brúarfoss Waterfall – Golden Circle

Feature Image Details: Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 28MM, F/13 for 1/4 second at ISO 100.

Photography tours often speak of  “secret waterfalls” or secret places. This is one of those locations. Brúarfoss is difficult to find, even with instructions. I certainly would not have found it, or even heard of it without instructions.

I talk the need for instructions in my Iceland Guide

Planning a Trip to Iceland.

We planned our trip starting with an eBook Forever Light: Landscape Photographers Guide to Iceland.

If you are planning a trip to Iceland, get the book.

Forever Light gives instructions to Brúarfoss. Now that you have the name, you can likely find instructions elsewhere, but the book is well worth it regardless. Note: I had the first edition. The above links to the revised edition.

We found the spot on our first attempt, using the second of the two ways noted in the eBook. When we arrived at the designated parking spot, it did not look as described. The parking are was on the left, not the right. When I stopped to ponder the situation, I saw some people off in the distance walking. I presumed they were headed to the falls and parked.

To the Forever Light instructions, I will add there was a fence on our right and we followed a very narrow rutted path (one shoe wide) to a the main trail that we had to hop a fence to get to. Thereafter, we just followed the trail.

You come out of the tail into an opening and a bridge over the river. Remember the spot or you might take the wrong trail back. This sounds more difficult than it was, and reading the instructions again now, I am not sure I would have tried.

The book cautions that no one found the location on their first try, but we did, without a Garmin. We went once during the day, then returned for sunset. From where we parked, the waterfall was 20 minutes or so away. The makeshift trail and the main trail were both level. The hard part is making up your mind to try.

Slideshow of Brúarfoss

The images on the left were takes mid-afternoon in the stream beneath the bridge. Yes, I got wet. Yes, it was cold.

The images on the right were taken at sunset, standing on the bridge over the river. Beware of vibrations. It is very difficult to get sharp images if anyone else is on the bridge.

The horizontal image with the very silky water was taken with a Canon 100-400 MM F 4.5-5.6 L Lens at 112MM, F/13, for 13 seconds at ISO 100. You cannot get this shot, if people are walking on the bridge. Even 1 second images will be ruined if people are walking about. I cropped that image slightly, so I could have zoomed in further.

The water really does look blue. The color is different mid-day than at sunset.

It was about midnight when we took the sunset images. We were 20 minutes away from the car, with perhaps 90 minutes to get back to the hotel, with 10:30 AM flight. Nonetheless, my wife Liz volunteered to stay for sunrise. I wanted to, but I had a nagging feeling it was best to go back to Reykavik.

This might sound crazy, but I have learned it is best not to fight strong intuitions. So, off to bed, or so I thought.

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Next Up: Reykavik Sun Voyager Statue

Mike “Mish” Shedlock