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 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, 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.

Please Share!

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

Much more coming: Click to Subscribe by Email.

Next Up: Gullfoss Waterfall, Golden Circle

Mike “Mish” Shedlock