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

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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

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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

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 10, Westfjords, Kelp on Rocky Shore Near Ísafjörður

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The drive in the fjords to Ísafjörður was very scenic. We stopped many times along the way to photograph kelp glowing in the sun. This image was just before sunset.

Feature Image Details: Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 17MM, F/16 for 1/8 second at ISO 100.

Positioning the sun right along the edge of a mountain or just behind, but peeking out of any object makes of a diffraction star, and the Canon 16-MM F4 lens does an excellent job. Best effect is when stopped down. Typically I use F16. F22 is not as sharp.

To get this image right, I manually blended several exposures using layers and layer masks in Photoshop. I await a version of Aurora-HDR for Windows to do this in a more automated fashion.

The easiest way to take multiple exposures with a Canon EOS 6D or other similar camera is to setup a custom function for taking multiple images. I take three images, at +0, -2, and +2. If I need another image or two I typically bracket in one direction.

Once again it was very late in the evening and we still had quite a bit to go to get to our hotel in Ísafjörður.

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Up Next: Town of Ísafjörður

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 10, Westfjords, Hólmavík

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The wind was howling when I took the images on this page. I had to hold on to my tripod as the 40 mile an hour winds would have otherwise blown it over. The waves are along the shore somewhere near Hólmavík.

Feature Image Details: Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 55MM, F/16 for 0.8 seconds at ISO 100.

The howling winds made some interesting cloud formations. This cloud seemed like it was a mile long.

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Image Details: 24-105MM L lens at 24MM, F/10 for 1/10th second at ISO 100.

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I am not quite sure the name of this church. It was somewhere between Sauðárkrókur and Ísafjörður. I believe near Hólmavík. If someone knows, please send an email.

Image Details: 24-105MM L lens at 35MM, F/9 for 1/400th second at ISO 100.

We had dinner in Hólmavík and set off to Ísafjörður for the night.

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Up Next: Glowing Kelp at Sunset

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 10, North Iceland, Sauðárkrókur

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On our way back from Hofsós to our hotel in Sauðárkrókur, we stopped to photograph these scenes just outside of town, right at sunrise.

Feature Image Details: Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 58MM, F/16, 1/13th of a second at ISO 125

About the only thing I would do different on this shot is bump up the ISO to 400, in order to better freeze the small water bird.

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Above Image Details: Canon 24-105MM L lens at 55MM, F/16, 1/10th of a second at ISO 125

Most of my images on the trip were shot between 10:00PM and 4:00AM with images of the same place shot just before and just after midnight. I labeled these images day 10, but I could just as easily called them day 9 as we had not yet gone to bed for the evening.

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Up Next: West Fjords

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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