Iceland in 16 Days: Day 9, North Iceland, Hofsós

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We spent the night in Sauðárkrókur, the largest town in the Skagafjörður fjord region in northwest Iceland. There was a music festival going on, and the town was overflowing. Every restaurant was packed and wait times were as long as two hours. Campers were everywhere.

We escaped to nearby Hofsós, one of the oldest trading ports in northern Iceland dating back to the 16th century. Hofsós, with a population of about 200 individuals, is located 37 KM east of Sauðárkrókur.

Feature Image Details: Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 40MM, F/16 for 1/6 second at ISO 160

Slide Show of Hofsós

Click on any image to play slideshow of larger images.

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Up Next: Up next: Beautiful Sauðárkrókur

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 9, North Iceland, Glaumbær Heritage Site, Skagafjörður

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The Glaumbær Heritage Site is complex of buildings that depict life in rural Iceland 2nd half of the 19th century to the half of the 20th century.

Feature Image Details: Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 67MM, F/16 for 1/80th of a second at ISO 125.

The Heritage Site was not a specific destination we had in mind. Rather, the site was one one many interesting places we stumbled upon on our Grand Circle Tour of Iceland. See my Iceland Guide for information about 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.

Here is a slideshow of images from the heritage site.

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Up Next: North Iceland, Hofsós Fishing Village

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 9, North Iceland, Skagafjörður

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After a long night’s sleep in Akureyri (one of very few on the trip), we set out for Saudarkrokur, the largest village in the Skagafjörður fjord region of Northwest Iceland.

Along the way we stopped to photograph, farms, streams, and historic sights along the way.

This is a farm outside of Akureyri . The dandelions were in full bloom.

Image Details: Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 28MM, ISO 125, F/16 for 1/80 second.

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Up Next: North Iceland, Glaumbær Heritage Site.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 9, North Iceland, Akureyri

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For the second consecutive day we went whale watching. Akureyri is situated  in a long harbor, and the water was much calmer. But the whales were not as playful. I captured no usable images.

Back in town we went scouting around, and I captured the above image of Akureyri from across the bay. It’s safe to assume I got wet taking this shot, the third time this trip (more coming up). In this case only my shoes got wet.

Image Details: Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 19MM, ISO 125, F/16, for 6 seconds

For whale watching tips and an image of a humpback whale breaching, please see Iceland in 16 Days: Day 8, North Iceland, Husavik, Whale Watching.

For general Iceland tip, please see my Iceland Guide. The guide is packed with information about 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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Up Next: North Iceland, Skagafjörður

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 8, North Iceland, Husavik Moonset

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After watching whales put on a magnificent display, we returned to harbor. I did not have a tripod handy, so I balanced my camera on a railing by the pier.

Feature Shot Details: Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 105MM. ISO 200, F/13, 1/30th of a second.

This is an image of a moonset over the harbor, right at sunset, shortly after midnight. 1/30th of a second is really pushing things for hand-held photography at 105MM, but I am very steady. I also balanced on a railing and turned image stabilization on.

Without stabilization, the rule of thumb is 1/focal length. In other words, I needed to shoot at 1/100th of a second not 1/30th for a sharp image.

I believe the rule of thumb is too generous. 1/200th would be my standard. Stabilization would bring that down to 1/100th or perhaps 1/50th of a second. The rail helped. This is a sharp image.

99% of the time, if not more, I have stabilization off.  I always have stabilization off when I am on a tripod. Stabilization can ruin long exposures because the camera is hunting for induced movement that isn’t present.

After returning from whale watching, all the restaurants were closed. Normally they wait for the returning boats, but all the operators stayed out long because the wales were extremely active, breaching (jumping) all over the place.

One restaurant was still serving spaghetti. It was the only item they had left. It was the worst spaghetti I ever had, covered in some sort of yellow clam sauce. I deemed it inedible after tasting a bite. My wife Liz did not even try. We went to a gas station for some snacks and a slice of pizza.

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Up Next: Akureyri

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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

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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.

Autofocus

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

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 7, North Iceland, North Iceland, Hverir Geothermal Area

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After photographing Goðafoss at sunset and sunrise (see Iceland in 16 Days: Day 7, North Iceland, Goðafoss Waterfall) we drove back to Reykjahlid.

I dropped off my wife Liz at the hotel and went on to the Hverir Geothermal Area. If I had to do this again in two nights, I would have spent sunrise and sunset at Selfoss/Dettifoss, then sunset at Goðafoss, then scramble to get back to Hverir for sunrise.

These images were taken an hour or so after sunrise. The light was still beautiful, but I have visions of of pink steam rising from these vents at dawn. I do not know if that happened or not.

Feature Image: Canon 14MM F2.8 L Lens, F/16 1/10 of a second at ISO 100.

I cannot say enough about Canon’s 14MM lens. It is beautifully sharp, and fast, with a maximum aperture of F2.8.

Super wide angle lenses like this require a different approach.

  1. You have to be right on top of your subject
  2. You need something interesting in the foreground
  3. You need something interesting in the background (typically the sky or mountains)
  4. It is critical to pick a spot where everything is in focus

Hverir Geothermal Area Slideshow

Click on any image for larger images in slideshow fashion.

The feature image and the last two images above were shots with a Canon 14MM lens. I am inches away from that steam vent in the final image. The other images were taken with a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at varying focal lengths.

Depth of field on Canon’s 14MM lens at F16 is amazing. I used manual focus (as I normally do with landscape photography) to ensure focus is where I want.

As I pointed out in my Iceland Guide, it would have been better to spend a minimum of three days in the Reykjahlid/Lake Myvaten area. There is much to do and lots of things we did not see.

However, we had prearranged plans in Husavik.

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Up Next: Whale watching in Husavik

Mike “Mish” Shedlock