I’m itching to process more of my photos from my most recent trip to Africa. Alas, I’m at my desk working on a presentation. A beer will be required when we knock off tonight, so here’s one of my ready to go photos from my trip to Iceland in June 2012.
On my first night in Iceland I stayed out, excited by the lack of darkness, until I got too cold to go any further. On my way back to our guesthouse I decided to stop and take some more photos of the flowers moving around in the biting wind. I wanted to show the flowers’ movement so I stuck with a small aperture to let them blur and fired off 7 exposures ranging from -3 to +3.
I’ve been trying to avoid posting images from the same place day after day. However, I’ve realised that I’ve got far more pictures from Iceland than anywhere else, and I won’t get to do anymore traveling until the New Year. So you’ll be seeing a lot of Iceland photos for the next couple of months.
In this shot, I’m stood atop the lighthouse featured in a number of earlier posts (here, here, and here). While set up to take this picture I got the scare of my life. It was about 3am and there was no one around. Then suddenly I felt the need to turn around. I spun around and discovered to my horror a man climbing through the hatch in the roof. I couldn’t help myself and a stream of expletives escaped my mouth. We spoke with him briefly. He was Icelandic but not from the area. He never really made it clear what he was doing up there. I left him up there after I finished taking the photos.
The weirdest part is, the only way to get into the lighthouse is via the path in this photo. As you can see, I had a good view of the only approach and was watching it very closely as I was photographing it. I didn’t see anyone approach the lighthouse. He just appeared out of nowhere. Come to think of it, this probably would have been a good post for Halloween night.
Straight out of Keflavik, Camera Blazing
It seems like a lot of flights to Iceland arrive in the middle of the night. During the long days of summer this means arriving under the midnight sun. As I landed I was desperate to get out of the airport and break out my camera as the sunset lit the sky. Luckily, I was booked into a guesthouse in a picturesque little place called Gardur. There’s two lighthouses there so you can happily fill your first night in Iceland shooting.
Today’s Photo: Approaching the old Lighthouse, Gardur
As I approached this lighthouse I didn’t expect that we’d actually be able to go up to the top of it. Then, my travel buddy disappeared through the open door. Climbing to the top was pretty tricky with my camera, backpack and tripod. It’s a series of ladders with little openings in each floor to climb through. There’s some strange art installations inside as well. All in all, it was pretty creepy.
Today’s Photo: The Dark Lighthouse
This photo makes me want to get back to Iceland as soon as possible. The plan for my next trip is to turn up there for a longer period of time with a tent and not much of a plan. I want to wander, go to where the good light is and wait for the good light in places that deserve it. There seems to be campsites everywhere in Iceland so finding somewhere to crash should be easy as plugging campsite into the satnav.
This shot is from my first night in Iceland. After arriving at midnight, I discovered that this beach was just a short walk from the guesthouse I stayed in. It was handily scouted by my travel buddy who had arrived a day earlier. The lighthouse is actually no longer used so it seems fitting to leave it in the dark. A newer one is located just off to the right. You’ll get to see photos of it one day as well.
The Technical Bits
Camera: Canon 5d Mk II
Lens: EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM
Exposure: 1.6, 6, and 25 at f/18
Taking the Photo: I wandered the beach searching for a good foreground for this shot. The rocks looked promising and when I stumbled across this patch of larger, moss drenched stones I set up my tripod. The camera was placed at about half my height to get close to the rocks and capture the detail in the moss. You’ll have to click the image and view it larger to see the details. I actually shot bracketed shots from -4 to +4 because the sunset was so intense behind the lighthouse. As you can see above, I only went with -2 to +2, which I’ll explain next.
Processing: This is one of those photos that I’ve tried to process numerous times but failed. I have a similar shot, here, that I was never quite happy with. The sky and the lighthouse just never looked quite right. I felt like I was sacrificing colors and detail in the sky to bring out details in the lighthouse, which just blended into the sky. This time, I took a different approach and decided to let the lighthouse remain as a silhouette. The rocks in the foreground are much more interesting than the details of the lighthouse anyway. Now, I’m very happy with this shot.
I probably could have achieved this affect with an off camera flash, which I don’t yet own. One of the useful parts of HDR is that you can adjust your lighting once you’ve gotten home. Of course, this has limitations so I’m planning on buying a couple of off camera flashes and figuring out how to use them. That way, in a situation like this I could take my usual bracketed photos, but also use a bit of flash. Then, I can just use whichever method worked out better and maybe save me a bit of head-scratching once I get home.
Software: Photomatix, Photoshop, Topaz Adjust, Noiseware Pro
Arriving in Iceland at midnight, in the middle of June, immediately makes you realise you’re entering a surreal land. As the flight begins it’s descent you can see the vibrant colors of sunset around you. The colors continue long after you’ve left the airport. Long enough that you can travel 20 minutes to your accommodation, drop off your bags and wake up your sleeping travel mate, that got there a day earlier, and still be able to take photos of the unending light!
This beach was walking distance from our guesthouse in Gardur so we made our way straight there. I spent at least two hours taking photos that night, despite my total lack of sleep, and didn’t even begin to feel tired. The air was crisp with a slight scent of sulphur from nearby springs. We even managed to climb up the lighthouse pictured in the distance here. It afforded a great view back across the landscape, including the newer, still-functioning lighthouse nearby.