Photographing Iceland – What You Need to Know (Part Three)
For those of you waiting patiently for the last in this 3-part series, here it is! As some of you may know we have been a bit side-tracked with the birth of our baby girl, Charlotte, in the last 5 weeks – and I can’t say I’ve mastered the art of one-handed typing just yet!
This last post was going to be a summary of the key points of the previous two articles, but I think it may be more beneficial instead to run through an equipment list and some last minute tips. You can find information on general logistics in Part One and some suggested itineraries in Part Two; these will open in a separate window.
What to Bring
Every photographer has different interests, but I will assume that since you are following this blog and have gotten this far in the series that you are primarily interested in nature landscape photography. Most of the time the wide angle lens is my lens of choice, and its attached to the camera body about 90% of the time. However, you will find that the vast landscapes in Iceland sometimes require a mid-zoom, or even a moderate telephoto lens to capture details that you will lose in a single wide angle composition. Here’s a list of some of the key items that we brought along:
Camera body: Yes, a bit silly, of course you need one of these. If your’s isn’t weather-sealed, you will need to take extra care in the damp environments of the waterfalls you’re going to shoot, and the salty black beaches you’ll be wandering along.
Wide angle lens: Self-explanatory.
Mid-zoom/telephoto lens: Use the mid-zoom (e.g. 24-70mm) for taking multiple frames to stitch into a panorama, and the telephoto (70-200mm) to really hone in details in the distance. Dylan sometimes even used a 2x extender attached to the telephoto to get SUPER close-ups.
Polarisers: These are pretty much permanently attached to our lenses. Great for cutting out glare and increasing saturation and contrast, and one of the filters whose effect cannot yet be replicated by software.
Tripod: Essential for long exposures and getting crisp, sharp images. If you have a fancy one with legs that can be extended any which way and/or lowered to ground level, it will also allow for unique angles and compositions. We use a tripod for about 95% of all our images.
Graduated Neutral Density filters: A must for controlling exposures, especially for dawn and dusk shooting sessions. We each have a set of 3 that roughly add up to 9-10 stops between them: my favourite is the Hi-Tech 4-stop soft, whereas Dylan likes to stack a 3-stop and 2-stop combo.
Neutral Density filter: For those totally boring scenes in the middle of the day, but you won’t have time to return to – sometimes the ND filter can make a difference. We have a 9-stop and a 10-stop ND to use with the appropriate lens.
Raincover: You MUST have one of these to shoot the waterfalls and geysirs. After having to send our 5DMkII for repairs following our first trip to Iceland, we used a raincover any time we got within 50 metres of any water (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I wanted you to realise how important this point is!). Even if your camera body is weather-sealed (like the 7D is supposed to be) I still wouldn’t take the chance.
And because these really added to our comfort:
Waterproof boots: We lived in our’s. It sure makes things a lot nicer when you don’t have to contend with wet socks and frozen toes. Most of the time, anyway.
Waterproof outers: If you can get your hands on the Goretex Extreme line of gear, you will not regret spending the money on it. These are windproof as well and when worn over your two thermal layers and fleece, you’ll be nice and toasty at 1am shooting the most awesome aurora you’ve ever seen.
- Allow yourself enough time to explore your chosen locations. There’s nothing worse than having to hurry along and wondering if you’d have got the shot if only you had more time.
- Try to scout possible locations if you really find that you have more than enough time on your hands. Try different angles with your setup. Maybe your first location or composition isn’t the best one.
- Don’t forget to book your accommodation in advance if you’re thinking of hiking the Laugavegur Trail at the Ferðafélag Íslands website (http://www.fi.is/en/huts/).
- If you run into trouble with your camera gear, head to Beco in Reyjavik – this store stocks just about everything (the website is in Icelandic, so here’s a link to their Facebook page with their address).
- Make sure you check road accessibility: http://www.vegagerdin.is/english/road-conditions-and-weather/.
- Check the aurora forecast here: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/3
The Absolute Last Word…
Accept that you will return to Iceland. Maybe not for another year or even another 10 years, but you will. It’s inevitable.
Maybe we’ll see you there. 🙂
Posted on October 1, 2011, in How we..., Iceland, Photography and tagged dylan toh, Everlook, everlook photography, How to, Iceland, iceland landscape photography, Icelandic photography, Landscape, marianne lim, Nature, Photography, Travel. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.