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Tag: Landscape Photography

Grand Valley

Grand Valley

Grand Valley

This grand valley lies near Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island and is a great example of the incredible hils and valleys that make up the Land of the Long White Cloud.

I love the way that the road cutting through the valley disappears into the folds of the surrounding mountains, and the sheer walls of the cliffs.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Vestrahorn

Vestrahorn

Vestrahorn

The first time I saw images of Iceland’s Vestrahorn I knew that I had to visit and photograph this magnificent mountain range. It is simply one of the most spectacular ranges right on Iceland’s south eastern coast.

Vestrahorn is quite accessible from the nearby town of Hofn, and makes for stunning sunset photos in any (every) season.

Vestrahorn requires a wide lens—this images was made with at 8mm on my m43 camera (16mm FF equivalent).

Alternatively it is a great scene for a panorama. In fact, if you wanted to get any closer to the range you would need to go pano unless you have a super-wide angle lens.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Lava, Light and Rhyolite

Lava, Light and Rhyolite

Lava, Light and Ryolite

Iceland’s highland region of Landmannalaugar is notable for the spectacular rhyolite mountains, valleys and hills. It is also known for several surrounding lava fields.

For photographers, these features make for spectacular subjects, but a good photograph has a good subject and great light, and Landmannalaugar is also well known for the spectacular light that can be experienced.

After quite an amazing trek up Blahnukur, we explored the adjacent lava fields, and found several vistas showing both the hills and fields, but the light in this vista really took my imagination. It was simply spectacular.

An all day trip to Landmannalaugar allowed time to explore, and you really need to be able to take the time and let the light conditions progress. Don’t rush.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom
Milky Way over the Lightstation

Milky Way over the Lightstation

Milky Way over the Lightstation

Precisely one year ago we visited Cape Otway on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, staying at the Cape Otway Lightstation for a milestone birthday treat.

There are three or four cottages or studios in historical buildings in which you can stay at the Lightstation. On this occasion, we are pretty sure we were the only guests staying overnight, and given the staff don’t stay on site, we had this incredible piece of history to ourselves overnight.

I haven’t done a lot of night sky photography, but with a clear night and a new moon in a remote location I had to take the opportunity.

Staying overnight provides the opportunity to scout out compositions before dusk, and the use of the PhotoPills app allowed me to plan the time of night when the milky way would be aligned above the lighthouse.

While I am sure that there is a lot of room for improvement, I am very happy with this image. Not only it is a decent image of the magnificent night sky, it brings forth great memories and wonderful imaginings.

Photography is a medium for story telling. This image provokes thoughts of the vastness of the universe, it is a reminder of the danger of navigation along a treacherous coastline. These threads combine—for me—into thoughts of exploration and journey.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Laowa 7.5mm f/2
  • E: Lightroom CC
Storm over Godafoss

Storm over Godafoss

Storm over Godafoss

Godafoss was one of the key photography locations that I was looking forward to seeing and capturing during our visit there in September 2019. I can’t remember exactly how and when I first learned of this stunning waterfall, but it certainly came up regularly as we planned our trip.

We based ourselves out of Akureyri in northern Iceland for a couple of days, and made the journey out there on our second day. Of course the weather was quite overcast, and the distant mountains were completely hidden in the cloud. We still spent some time hunting for composures and hoping for the weather to clear. It didn’t, so we continued on to visit other locations around Lake Myvatn.

While I got a couple of nice images, I was not able to get the image I had in my minds eye—and had travelled half way around the world to capture.

The next morning was our last in Akureyri, and I planned to get up early to try again for the image I wanted, but the weather was even worse, so we had a leisurely breakfast, explored Akureyri and set off early afternoon for our next destination.

Our route would take us right past Godafoss, but the weather was still poor. As we neared the waterfall, we decided to stop anyway. I got the camera gear out, covering it up a raincover.

Suddenly there was a break in the rain, and the cloud lifted just enough to expose the distant mountains. The drama in the sky added to the natural beauty of this ‘waterfall of the gods.’

A little bit of persistence, and an equal measure of luck, helped me to get the photo I imagined.

View this image on my Photo Gallery or Flickr.

Earth’s Extremes

Earth’s Extremes

Earth’s Extremes

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day so I wanted to present an image the shows nature at it raw finest.

This was an image made over a valley between a lava field and the incredibly colourful rhyolite ranges in the Landmannalaugar region of Iceland’s highlands. We visited this location on a photo tour with our guide Kaspars Dzenis.

Clearly the weather was quite overcast, but the muted light only served to bring out the incredible colours of the rhyolite, the grassy valley and the blackness of the lava fields.

We love the Landmannalaugar area, and reviewing these photos is a special opportunity to think back on one of the most special hiking photography experiences.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC
Hjállparfoss

Hjállparfoss

Hjállparfoss

Hjállparfoss is a wonderful waterfall on the road to Landmannalaugar in Iceland’s highlands.

Meaning ‘Help Waterfall’, Hjállparfoss is actually twin waterfalls that feed from a common source, and merge back in a common pool.

Hjállparfoss is easily accessible and well worth a stop. There are several vantage points for the falls, having tighter shots (like this one), or other shots from further back.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC
Valley of the Tears

Valley of the Tears

Valley of the Tears

Known locally as Sigöldugljúfur Canyon, the Valley of the Tears is a stunning canyon nearby Haifoss in Iceland’s Highlands.

Arriving in a dusty carpark a short stroll to the edge of a cliff overlooking the valley exposing the stunning vista seen in this image.

As with so many of Iceland’s amazing landscapes, it is difficult to produce an image the brings to life the country’s rugged and amazing beauty.

Sigöldugljúfur is a lesser visited location for visitors to Iceland, but it is certainly well worth the stop on the road to Landmannalaugar. We were fortunate to be taken to this stunning location by our photo guide Kaspars Denisz.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC
Preparing for Icelandic travels

Preparing for Icelandic travels

Iceland is a small country with so much to see. You could spend years in this island nation and only scratch the surface, so it is essential to spend the time and make an effort to plan your trip.

Fortunately, there is a wealth of resources available today to assist in your planning. This post will provide some idea of the process we followed and the resources we leveraged to plan for our trip to Iceland in September 2019.

Belinda and I started and finished our visit in Reykjavik, and drove the ring road around the island, staying at hotels or guesthouses in Grundarfjörður, Akureyri, Seyðisfjörður, Hofn and Vik, along the way visiting many highlights, including those on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and the Golden Circle.

Glacial Surprise

We had a wonderful trip1, and the success of our trip was built mainly on meticulous planning2, which was critical in allowing us to:

  • Decide on priorities. Although tiny geographically, it offers an incredible array of experiences, which for us resulted in a lengthy initial itinerary. You need to work out what is important to you and assume you may never return so you can pare down that list. For us, diving at Silfra and seeing the magnificent landscapes were vital.
  • Accomodate the weather. Even in-between seasons like Autumn (when we visited) proved insanely variable. Rain, wind and poor visibility will slow your travel, may require you to rearrange your itinerary or entice you to return to a location or remain much longer than you realised.

  • Manage the unexpected. During our trip we experienced a flat tyre on our hire car, found that some roads were not open and we had to take some (rather interesting) detours as well as finding new routes that weren’t on our maps.

  • Take advantage of unplanned opportunities. Around almost every bend and over every crest incredible landscapes would appear and when we could, we would stop and marvel at sites such as a lovely lake with brilliant reflections on the road between Seyðisfjörður and Hofn.

  • Linger longer. We loved Akureyri and Hofn more than we thought. In both cases, our schedule allowed us the chance to stay a bit and take in the location a little longer. This was particularly valuable in Hofn when we checked into our hotel after dark, and awoke the next morning to look out the window and realise we were at the base of a glacier!!

Our planning was for a visit during Autumn, with days of a reasonably standard length, where all roads were open and where the weather was relatively mild. Our next trip will likely be at a different time of year, requiring a whole different level of planning. We will probably go in late Winter/early Spring, meaning much colder weather, shorter days, and many roads that won’t be open.

To achieve all of this, we used a variety of written and online tools to assist in our planning. The following are presented in no particular order but were all important in our pre-trip planning.

Reflections en route

General

  • Jeannie of the Iceland with a View website has a fantastic YouTube channel with plenty of great information on sites, clothing, getting around and many of the beautiful experiences to enjoy.
  • Hrafna is a native Icelander who has a great YouTube channel on the nation from a local’s perspective.
  • Various Lonely Planet guides were useful in our planning. In addition to the Iceland travel guide, we also got a lot of use out of the Best of Iceland travel guide.

Photography

Grjótagjá

I’d have to say that Belinda was initially more intrigued than me on Iceland as a destination, although I was certainly happy to go. When I came to realise the enormous photographic potential of Iceland, I got the bug. Belinda (non-photographer) also found some of the below resources both practically helpful and amazing introductions to places not originally on her must see list

  • One of the first resources that got me thinking about visiting Iceland, photographically, was Elia Locardi’s Photographing The World tutorial series, notably Series 1. These tutorial videos were an epic introduction to how Elia conceived, captured and edited some brilliant images of several outstanding Icelandic landscapes.
  • A companion series to Photographing the World was the Behind the Scenes series released on YouTube. This series was a valuable resource showing the logistics and challenges faced by the weather.
  • Mads Peter Iversen has an excellent YouTube series about Landscape Photography in Iceland, which currently consists of 53 videos. Additionally, Mads Peter has a Google map of Iceland Landscape photography, which proved to be a constant companion for us during our travels.
  • International Photographer’s Iceland map and ebook were brilliant planning tools. The map itself was opened up on our dining table constantly in the months leading up to our travels and helped us in pre-visualising our journey. The ebook was a valuable resource and was where I first learned about Grjótagjá—a cave with a geothermal rock pool that was an easily visited Game of Thrones shooting location.
  • Thomas Heaton is a favourite landscape photographer on YouTube, and also has many outstanding videos. His video about the highlands location of Landmannalaugar opened our eyes to a place to visit that had not been on our radar and was one of our favourite experiences.
  • Brendan van Son is a YouTuber with lots of travel photography videos worth watching, with a particularly useful episode on (recommended photography gear for Iceland) and iconic photo spots
  • James Popsys also had some entertaining videos about his visits to Iceland.

This post provides an overview of some of the main tools and resources we used to plan our Iceland adventures. There are further posts intended to cover clothing, photography equipment, and specific experiences we had along the way.

If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, take the time to plan it out, but leave in plenty of room for the unexpected—whether it is the weather, the sites and scenes or simply the people you meet, Iceland has so much opportunity for adventure.

Visit our Iceland Photo Gallery or our Iceland Photo Album on Flickr.

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  1. We certainly plan to go back again and will visit at a different time of year to get an entirely different experience. 
  2. In particular, Belinda’s research! 
Our Iceland Adventure

Our Iceland Adventure

In September 2019 Belinda and I spent two weeks in Iceland—a trip that we have been planning and anticipating for some time. It was a goal to get there, and now that we have been, it is a goal to go back and to further explore this amazing island nation.

This post is the start of what will be a series describing our adventures, the planning and preparation to get there, the photography opportunities and challenges, gear for travelling and photography, and more. I guess we will keep posting as long as the stories and supporting images allow us to illustrate how much this land of extremes inspired us.

A Land of Extremes

Iceland is a small country with absolutely massive landscapes.

There is nothing average about Iceland—it is a land of fire and ice; micro and macro; light and dark.

From a photography perspective, you have countless opportunities to capture the massive landscapes, or the incredible details.

To enjoy Iceland fully you need to be ready for anything. And everything.

Our Adventure

We flew into Keflavik Airport and collected our hire car before heading into Reykjavik where we stayed for the first few nights.

From Reykjavik we went on a scuba diving adventure in the Silfra Fissure, undertook an amazing photo tour to Landmannalaugar, and did a self-drive tour of the Golden Circle, as well as exploring the city of Reykjavik.

We then set out to drive around the 1,332km of the Ring Road, with side advemtures to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula with the iconic Kirkjufell on the west coast, and Seyðisfjörður on the east coast. We visited Akureyri in the north, and Hofn and Vik in the south.

Our visit in September was timed for the shoulder season—it was not the high season of Summer with the midnight sun, nor was it the icy winter. Weather was variable, with sunny, warm-ish days, and bitingly cold and very wet days.

Reliving the Adventure

We’re home in Australia now, and this series of posts and the images are a chance for us to relive the amazing experiences. We hope you enjoy sharing our experiences.

Aoraki Azure

Aoraki Azure

Driving from Wanaka to Tekapo in New Zealand we were quite suddenly greeted by an amazing view of Aoraki / Mt Cook across the stunning blue waters of Lake Pukaki.

As I worked on this image, a few months later, I was challenged to remind myself that the lake and the sky were incredibly blue. Editing any image requires the photographer to be honest about what it was about a scene that inspired them, and to produce a final image that is true to their photographic vision and the story they are telling.

This image was personally challenging in that regard, but I am happy with this result.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr.

Wakatipu Reflections

Wakatipu Reflections

A trio of images from the Queenstown area of New Zealand, featuring the stunning mountain ranges as a backdrop to the magic foreground of Lake Wakatipu.

The scenery around Queenstown is simply breathtaking and would keep any landscape photographer happy for years.

Wakatipu Reflections

Wakatipu Reflections

Magnificent reflections on Lake Wakatipu. Driving back from Glenorchy to Queenstown we spotted this great vista, smooth surface and great reflections, and pulled over as soon as it was safe to make some photos.

Old Paradise Wharf

Old Paradise Wharf

Roughly half-way between Queenstown and Glenorchy is the hamlet of Little Paradise, Mt Creighton. There’s not much there – basically just a lodge and the old wharf. This last site is a magic foreground for photos.

SUP Wakatipu

SUP Wakatipu

Taken from the Queenstown Gardens with the stunning mountains backdrop to the standup paddle-boarding and other water activities taking place on Lake Wakatipu.