As is usually the case when on a photo trip, a moment doesn’t go by without keeping an eye out for a photo-op. Although the usual focus is on the landscape, there are times when other things wander in front of the camera. Iceland has so many different types of sfrom which to choose. Waterfalls, geothermal areas, fjords, lighthouses, churches, black sand beaches, glaciers, mountains, harbors, birds, old farmhouses, and modern architecture just to include a small sampling. And of course the northern lights in the colder months of the year.
So I did my share of seeing different things to photograph, but the difficulty many times, was finding somewhere to get the car off the road!! It seems that most roads are basically a built-up berm with a road at the top with no shoulder or even a flat, grassy area to pull to the side. So quite often something caught my eye, but I was unable to stop anywhere to photograph it, and I simply drove on a bit frustrated.
It was a simple thing to photograph the window at one of the many orange lighthouses throughout the country, but not so easy to photograph the horse in the rusting metal barn. For the lighthouse window, in an attempt to keep the window parallel without the distortion a wide angle lens would produce looking up to it from the ground, I used the telephoto from a distance.
The barn was more difficult only because of the heavy rain and private property issues. I didn’t want to invade someone’s farm, setting up the tripod and being there quite a while. So I grabbed my son’s backup, and keeping it under my parka, walked in the rain to a tall pole nearby. I clicked off quite a few shots, using the pole to steady myself to keep the image as sharp as possible. In the end, with quite a few takes, I had options to choose which pose of the horse worked best.
On the final full day of the trip, trying to end near the airport, I visited Hallgrímskirkja, the famous cathedral in downtown Reykjavik. There were quite a few tourists inside during the short tourist visiting hours that day, and I was jostled by one particular gentleman who seemed to think he was the only one taking photographs. One other consideration in this beautifully simplistic interior, was the color temperature. Because there was so much blue light streaming in through the large side windows on this cloudless day, along with incandescent lighting throughout the interior, I had to experiment with differing white balances to try to get the image to match what I saw. Changing it to 3850K seemed to work best.
The white church at Reynisfjara is kind of famous and during the rain, I used the same method as in the barn, keeping the backup camera under my parka until I found the right position, lining up the gate and church as best I could before taking it out and shooting hand-held.
For the horses below, I thought I would test the stabilization of the new lens by handholding and shooting away. I found it to be amazing, keeping things sharp even though I generally am not very adept at keeping things sharp while taking hand-held shots. It also illustrates things I will take the time to photograph when prospects for good light are minimal.
Lupine was pretty prevalent throughout Iceland, but most of it had yet to flower while I was there during the last two weeks of May. But this small meadow on the Reykjanes Peninsula came out of nowhere, and with the sunlit crosses of the cemetery beyond, reminding me so much of Ansel Adams’ Moonrise over Hernandez, NM, I had to find a spot to get the car off the road and walk back to take the photograph. If I could have pulled the car off the road right there, the tips of all the flowers would have still been sunlit as a few are on the bottom, and in the small patch on the top right. But I was still happy and was to discover a few more photos as I drove further along this stretch of coastline.
A few weeks later in the year, I imagine that the huge fields of lupine that seemed to stretch for miles east of Vik would have all been in bloom, as well as other large areas I saw which would have provided many hours of photographic opportunities. I imagine that Iceland has much to offer in any season. The difficulty lies in choosing when to visit.