Iceland Day 2

We were hurried out of the truck at 6 am, some braved an Icelandic shower, but their courage was short lived.

We got in the jeep, and our guide took us to one of his favourite, off the map fjords. We  all climbed up a small cliff, to get a view down onto the still lagoon.

I stayed down by the jeep for a bit, loving the glowing little streams, contrasting against the black beach.

I climbed up to the cliff and dumped my bag. The cliff seemed too limiting; there was one obvious shot, that everyone was taking, so I moved on quickly. However, whilst I was up there, I thought I'd still try and put my take on the landscape. Even though it was dark, I stuck on my 10 stop filter and tried some really long exposures, getting it wrong several times, eventually settling on almost 5 minutes exposure.

With the filter still attached, I scurried along the cliff, and tried a slightly less obvious viewpoint from up there.

I scrambled down the edge of the cliff,  and went down to the waters edge, to get my usual seascape game on. There wasn't anything I could really place in front of the sunrise, but the water was quite clear, so I thought about making use of the vibrant blue shells under the surface. Annoyingly there were small patches of seaweed that were set on sabotaging the picture.

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I moved on, to see if I could find some interesting foregrounds, and luckily, just around the corner I found a load of nicely laid out rocks. Getting there was tricky though; walking on big rocks that were feet deep in seaweed, you couldn't tell where the gaps in the rocks were. I kept my filter on, to really capture those deep colourful  blues and oranges.

For this first image, I tried to lead in with the rocks on the bottom left, which takes you up to the orange rock and then to the mountain, which I think works well, but then the middle left is quite empty, meaning that the image is slightly unbalanced.

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I then tried the fail-safe technique of simplifying the scene as much as possible, and these orange tinted rocks seemed like a good target.

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I moved away from the water, wanting to explore more different angles, rather than repeating similar compositions. I saw this big puddle, and did the obvious with it. The eagle eyed among you will be able to spot the other Photographers (still taking pictures from the same spot) on the cliff. I love the blurred streaks of cloud that I picked up with the long exposure, and I was lucky that they fitted in the reflection.

Later that day, we turned a corner in the jeep, and everyone made various gasping noises, as we saw an absolutely glass smooth lagoon, with these serious mountains behind. For a second I thought we weren't stopping there, but luckily at the last minute the jeep dropped off the road onto the sand. As we got there, the usual thing happened of everyone taking the same picture, competing for the same spot and trying to find creative ways of avoiding the presence of their shadow in the picture.

I saw this juvenile cormorant stood at the edge of the lake, which I felt was being personified, as though it was just standing, relaxing and taking in the view.

It seemed I was the only one to bring a proper telephoto, as the others had all got in the landscape mind-set, so I was pretty smug when I could take this.

I really want to start incorporating more people into my landscapes, as it does add a human element, and that kind of thing seems to be very popular lately. So here's a start.

Here was the classic shot that everybody was taking, and whilst it's nice, I just feel that its a bit of a standard postcard shot, that thousands of other people already have - by incorporating people and wildlife you can make the scene appear so much more unique.

As I was walking to the other side of the beach, I looked back, seeing that my footsteps were leading to the small figures under the mountain. I picked up a couple of the bright mussel shells, and scattered them in the foreground to mark the start of the lead in line.

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On the other side of the beach, the sea was so cold, and stormy, that all the spray was forming a thick mist, with the mountains just poking out at the top.

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We continued in the jeep, down the road to Vestrahorn. As we started to park up, a man in a small red car pulled up, and rolled the window down, and started to shout to us about how we couldn't be here or we'd be trespassing on his land. As our guides both knew that this was not the case, they got out of the jeep and started talking to him about it. He demanded that everyone had to pay to be able to get out and take pictures, and we refused, so he started to shove our huge guide, who was clearly of Viking origins, and therefore that didn't exactly stick.

We decided to pay anyway, before things progressed, and then called the police. They showed up pretty quickly, and we went off to take pictures.

As we walked down to the beach, I spotted this puddle that had formed in the dunes, with ice that almost mimicked the reflection of the mountains. I worked really hard on this composition, and then a fair bit of work into the black and white conversion; making sure I had the right channel mixture to boost out the breaks in cloud, and the contrast between grass and sand.

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I got down to beach, and there was a pretty obvious ' place to be '. I set up for a classic withdrawing wave look by sticking on a small stop ND filter, and I was so excited I even got out my graduated ND filter for once.  It took a long time, but eventually I found a angle that wouldn't cut off any rocks, and I managed to get these gleaming rocks for a punchy foreground. I saw quite a few people get really soaked by being overly keen and standing right where the waves came in. Fortunately I stayed dry, and got lucky with this wave.


I paced along the beach, once I knew that I had bagged the shot above, to search for some more unique angles. This really orange grass caught my eye, and also the way it swept towards the mountain.

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